I’ve had a book on hold with the St. Louis Public Library for about five months now, and today I finally got around to asking a librarian where it went. It turns out that it’s been marked in the computer as “IN TRANSIT” for two years now. She called the two relevant branches and had them do shelf checks, and it turns out to have been shelved at the destination library all this time, gathering dust, but never entered in the computer. This is now fixed, and I should have it tomorrow.
It doesn’t surprise me that books occasionally don’t get scanned into the computer before being shelved. What surprises me is that no one noticed until now. Library transfers normally take just a few days; I would have expected the computer system to notice when a book was supposedly “in transit” for a week or more, and notify a human to figure out where it went. If nothing else, I’d assume a library would want to keep track of which books have been lost so they can buy new copies.