MORE than 100 books have gone missing from a museum – sparking a plea for them to be returned.
The research room at The Spring Arts and Heritage Centre is a treasure trove of information about the Havant area.
But its shelves are looking depleted after the disappearance of dozens of precious books, many full of photographs and anecdotes that can never be replaced.
The 100 or so books have gone missing in the past three years.
Peter Minshull, 49, a volunteer from Emsworth, helped to do the audit.
He said: ‘My glasses nearly fell off the end of my nose and my jaw dropped – it was stunning.’
Kate Saunders, heritage manager, said: ‘It was quite frightening when we sat down and totted it all up.
‘I don’t think it’s people coming in and taking hordes – it’s people taking one here and there.
‘I don’t believe there’s a concerted effort to take them.
‘People are probably a bit absent-minded.
‘We are not like the library and don’t have that facility.’
She added: ‘We can’t afford to replace them.
‘The history of Havant books are the most popular.
‘We have very few left of the history of Havant books. Hayling Island is another area that has taken a big hit.’
People are invited to make a small financial donation when they have used the research room.
Mr Minshull said it was important the books are returned.
‘People come in to do research and a lot of the books are very apt for their research,’ he said.
‘Lots of people come in to do family history and their family may have lived or worked here 100 years ago.
‘Some of the books have photographs of businesses and articles about the proprietors and shop workers.’
The Spring is holding an amnesty throughout August and books can be brought in anonymously and put in a box in the museum. Mrs Saunders said no questions will be asked.
She added: ‘At the same time we’d like to invite anyone who has a book or document of interest that they no longer need, to come in and donate it to The Spring’s collection.’
Contact Kate Saunders on (023) 9224 9063 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.