MORE than 7,000 books with a total estimated value of £87,500 are missing from Cornwall Council's libraries.
The irrecoverable books are thought to be long overdue, lost or stolen from libraries across the county, a freedom of information request has revealed.
Of a total stock level of 750,800 books, 7,296 were recorded as missing for the financial year of 2012-13.
The council operates 37 libraries across the county, incorporating 33 branch libraries, four community libraries and five mobile services.
A council spokesman said: "Libraries encourage members to return books or other borrowed items on time and in good condition and will send out reminders to encourage them to do so with robust processes in place to follow up on fines or late returns."
The total amount represents an average of 197 missing books per library, at an individual library cost of £2,365.
Torpoint library had the highest number of books recorded as missing in Cornwall, with St Dennis library at the lowest end of the scale. Roche community library had a slightly lower number of missing books than St Dennis, but shares stock with mobile libraries, making the combined figure higher.
Commenting on the number of missing books, the spokesman said: "The figures include missing and overdue books, however, the (library) system doesn't differentiate between lost, non-returned or stolen items.
"Although a book may be listed as missing, this does not mean that they are stolen, as they may have been misplaced within the library."
A replacement fee is charged for books or other borrowed items that are lost or not returned.
Library books and other items can be renewed online or by using the 24-hour renewals hotline on 0845 6076119 (calls charged at local rate).