Library Security




Theimportance of security cannot be gainsaid as far as the economicwellbeing and sustainability of any entity is concerned.Unfortunately, recent times have seen an eruption of a wide range ofsecurity threats particularly as a result of technologicaldevelopment such as internet and computers which allowtechnology-savvy criminals to have access to unauthorized areaswithout necessarily having to be there physically. This hasnecessitated that companies and business entities reinvent theirsecurity plans to allow for enhancement of security and safeguard theproperty and sustainability. This is the case for DallasPublic Library.

Likeother libraries in the United States and possibly the world over,DallasPublic Libraryfaces varied security challenges with regard to its print and nonprint collections. Library collections are the bedrock of servicesthat are offered to the community and are crucial assets to thislibrary. In essence, their protection and security would enable thelibrary to provide an effective service in response to thecommunity’s information needs. In the case of libraries, collectionsecurity would revolve around the necessity for providing, securingand maintaining its collection so as to safeguard accessibility,longevity, as well as effective provision of the required services tothe users. The achievement of this objective would, nevertheless,necessitate an assessment of the magnitude of security offered in thelibrary, the breaches of security that have been encountered in therecent times, as well as the possible measures for eliminating andcombating these breaches to enhance the security of the library.

PhysicalPlant Intrusion Property Damage (Interior and Exterior)

Asone of the oldest libraries in this area, DallasPublic Library hasbeen facing immense challenges pertaining to burglary. This shouldcomes not be surprising considering that the facility incorporates awide range of expensive book collections that are extremely rare tofind in other libraries both in the area and in the United States atlarge. Research has indicated that the library has been burglarizedat least four times in the last 6 months, which is quite asubstantial number of times.

Nevertheless,there are a number of intrusion and security alarm systems availablein the market and that should be examined and possibly incorporatedinto the library so as to enhance its security and avert thepossibility of an intrusion or burglary in the future. These rangefrom battery powered systems to hardwired systems that haveprotection from tampering and power cuts. It is noteworthy that alarge number of burglaries occur in instances where there are powercuts, in which case the security alarm systems must have theprotection against tampering and power cuts (Shuman,2001).These alarm systems should have audible sounds that go beyond thearea where the intrusion is occurring and connected to the electronicsystem of the library so as to allow the individual monitoring thealarm system to know when a burglary is occurring and where it istaking place. Also crucial, in this case, would be a backup power, aswell as secured communication lines, so as to ensure that thesecurity is running at any given time and that other people canmonitor and respond if it is necessary.

Onthe same note, the exterior perimeter pertaining to the librarybuilding must be fully alarmed including its windows, hatches,exterior doors and ducts, particularly where the openings open to theexterior side. The likely points of entry should have a magneticcontact fitted on them, in which case in instances where the contactis broken, the monitoring station will be alerted by the station(Shuman,2001).Of particular note is the importance of installing the alarm contactson a protected side of the point of entry, while the exteriorsurfaces that have glass, including skylights, panels and doorsshould have detectors that would either sense motion or breakingglass (Shuman,2001).

Inaddition, there is the possibility that individuals would access thelibrary during legal hours and through legal means but still havecriminal intent of obtaining and possibly stealing some materials. Inessence, it is imperative that a closed circuit television (CCTV)security monitoring system is incorporated in all areas of thebuilding. This is particularly in areas that incorporate materials ofhigh value or in special collection storage rooms, as well as walk-invaults (Shuman,2002).Of course, the safes and walk-in vaults are to be located in areasthat are alarmed and locked in all times so as to prevent thepossibility of access by unauthorized individuals.

Further,it is imperative that the library integrates and uses an electroniccontrolled access system that would restrict and control access tothe secured areas that incorporate high value and sensitive material(Shuman,2002).These systems would be composed of identification badges (which couldbe fob or proximity cards), a control, a door reader, as well as ahost software application. To protect the books and collections frombeing taken outside the library without proper authorization, it isimperative that each of them have a magnetic ribbon that wouldactivate the alarm at the points of exit so as to alert the libraryofficials (Shuman,2002).These ribbons should be sufficiently hidden to prevent theirextraction and elimination from the books.

InformationRecords Security

Asstated, it is imperative that access to the secured areas thatincorporate high value and sensitive materials is controlled andlimited. The visitors should be restricted using alarms, key issue,registry, as well as security escort entry requirements. This shouldbe complemented with a requirement that visitors positively identifythemselves and exhibit a clear need to sign in and out, visit, aswell as be accompanied by qualified security personnel (Shuman,2002).

Inthe case of records and information, a large proportion of it hasbeen converted into electronic or digital format. It is noteworthythat this information is usually confidential and sensitive to theexistence of the library. One of the key strategies for safeguardingits security is limiting the number of individuals who have access tothe physical locations of the machines usually used in accessing therecords (Shuman,2002).This will involve the use of special codes and badges at the door,ensure that only authorized individuals have access to the locations.These could be complemented by eye-scan security systems orfingerprint scans. On the same note, it is imperative that thedigital systems incorporate log-in codes and usernames, which areusually changed on a regular basis to ensure that no hackers canaccess them easily. Even in instances where they are protected usingusernames and passwords, it is imperative that the documents bezipped and encrypted to ensure that they are not easily accessed byunauthorized individuals (Shuman,2002).The installed systems should not allow for remote access toinformation and records unless the individuals are carrying a devicethrough which a non-recurring one-time password will be supplied.Further, it is imperative that the systems allow for automaticsigning out in instances where the machine or logged-in system hasnot been used for more than 10 minutes. The access to the records orthe system will require signing in again (Shuman,1999).This prevents the utilization of an authorized individual’s accountto access the records and information without his or her consent. Onthe same note, it is imperative that the systems must allow for theselection of the number of consecutive failed logons that wouldtrigger the suspension of access.


Ithas been quite rare to have individuals assaulted within the premisesof the library. However, there are numerous instances where personalitems are stolen when individuals leave them unattended. As much asit is the responsibility of the individual to make sure that theproperty is not left unattended, it is imperative that the libraryassists in this regard. First, the library should install personalsafes with keys being given to the clients to ensure that they canput their items in there if they are not going to be out for long.Second, the safe’s area should be manned by security personnel toensure that they are not broken into. Third, it is imperative thatthe library increases its security personnel who would be going roundthe library to ensure that there is reduced possibility for personalassault. This would complement the security cameras that would bemanning all parts of the library.

EmergencyPlanning and Response

TheLibrary invites quite a number of people every day. As much as it hasnever experienced any major emergency situations, it is imperativethat an emergency plan is put in place. One of the greatest risks tolibraries and archives remains to be fires. In essence, it isimperative that a fire and emergency program is integrated into itsprotection policy so as to prevent, as well as mitigate losses.First, it is imperative that the library incorporates a reliable andearly warning detection and annunciation system (audible alarm signaland visible strobe lights), with distinguishable and clear signalsthat can be easily comprehended by every user in the libraryincluding the disabled (Shuman,1999).Currently, the exits in the library are considerably sufficient incase of a fire emergency. However, given the fact that they areequipped with magnetic and electronic devices, it is imperative thatthe devices release in case of loss of power or fire evacuationsituation.

Inaddition, it is imperative that all electrical appliances areproperly inspected before use and installed with timers in case ofheat generating appliances. The fire detection systems should becontinuously monitored from separately located stations. In case anuncertified monitoring facility has to be used as a result of localnecessity, it is imperative that it is done with the fire protectionauthorities or local securities’ approval, which should becomplemented with regular on-site inspections to safeguard itsadequacy.

Stillon this, it is important that fire service approved fire-fightingequipment is installed, including portable fire extinguishingequipment. These should be inspected on a monthly basis and subjectedto maintenance and tagged by authorized fire extinguisher maintenancecompanies in line with NFPA Standard 10. These equipments should beplaced in strategic places throughout the library. Further, thelibrary staff should be offered the necessary training pertaining tothe appropriate usage of these equipments.

Tocomplement these, it is imperative that the library sets up anautomatic fire suppression system particularly considering that alarge proportion of its items in the facilities are combustible(Shuman,1999).It would be recommended that a cross-zoned and wet-pipe watersprinkler extinguishing system that is specified for minimumsufficient release of water is installed all over the libraryparticularly in areas that stand a high risk of having a fireincluding its mechanical rooms, kitchen and work-spaces that useelectrical equipments. In choosing the fire suppression systems, itis imperative that the selected equipments be in line with thegovernment rules and regulations particularly with regard to the foamor extinguishing agent (Shuman,1999).For instance, Halon 1301 fire extinguishing systems have been bannedin line with the NFPA Standard 2001 on clean agent fire extinguishingsystem.

OSHAStandards on

Themost relevant OSHA standards for library systems revolve around thesignaling systems that should be put in place to safeguard the safetyof employees and clients alike. The OSHA standard 1910.165 governsthe workplace alarm systems, as well as evacuation procedures and isdesigned to reduce the severity of injuries and accidents throughensuring that the alarm systems are appropriately maintained andinstalled, meet the established requirements for performance and, inplace to alert the employees of the emergencies in the workplace. Thelibrary would be required to offer an early warning for emergencyaction, as well as reaction time that would allow the employees tosafely escape the work place (Craver,2002).According to the OSHA standard 1910.165 (b)(1), the alarm system isrequired to offer a warning for required emergency action andreaction time for the employees’ safe escape from the immediatework area or workplace. In the 1910.165.(b)(2), it is required thatthe alarm will be perceivable above the ambient light or noise levelsby all people in the affected area of work, with tactile devicesbeing used to alert individuals who are incapable of recognizing thevisual or audible alarm (Craver,2002).In addition, the standard 1910.165 (b)(3) necessitates that the alarmwill be recognizable and distinctive as a signal for evacuating thework area or the undertaking of actions that are designated in theemergency action plan. This is complemented by Standard1910.165(b)(4), where the library is required to offer theappropriate ways of reporting emergencies and the posting ofemergency telephone numbers in conspicuous locations to allow forreporting of emergencies (Craver,2002).

Hiringand Training

Whileit may be difficult to state whether the library has been havingproblems with its employees, the fact that there have been severalburglaries and thefts in the last several months means that there isa lapse in the security area. This would necessitate an examinationof the hiring and training of security personnel. With regard tohiring, the normal procedures for inviting applications through thenews media, examining the credential of the applicants, inviting themfor an interview and then selecting the appropriate ones would beapplied (Craver,2002).However, it is imperative that a comprehensive background check iscarried out where the former employers, school administrators andeven local leaders are visited and talked to about the candidates.This will ensure that a proper picture pertaining to their personalbehavior and capabilities is obtained prior to hiring them so as togauge their appropriateness for the security positions.

Irrespectiveof their backgrounds, staff members have to be givenlocation-specific training to allow them to perform in the newpositions. The training provided in this library should incorporateinformation pertaining to the things that different or distinctive toit, including vocabularies and codes or even the use of securityequipment and locations of the same (Craver,2002).In addition, there are situations where the equipment used in thelibrary will be different from those used in other areas, in whichcase it is imperative that the new entrants are provided with suchtraining. This would go a long way in ensuring that the new employeesperform in the most desired manner.


Giventhe importance of the library to the community, it is imperative thatvaried security concerns are addressed. First, the layout seems a bitcrowded and may require some form of realignment to enhance theamount of space in the library. This will reduce congestion, ensuresecurity for both the people and book collections in the library. Inaddition, it is imperative that sufficient security personnel aredeployed in the library to ensure that there is limited chance forassault and theft within the premises. Third, collaboration betweenthe security agencies in the library and local security and emergencyagencies would be imperative to ensure that the security plans are inline with the state rules. Lastly, it is imperative that there iswidespread consultations with the local security experts is effectedto ensure that the security plans and equipment used are the best andup to date.


Craver,K. W. (2002).&nbspCreatingcyber libraries: : an instructional guide for school library mediaspecialists.Greenwood Village: Libraries Unlimited.

Shuman,B. A. (1999).&nbspLibrarysecurity and safety handbook: Prevention, policies, and procedures.Chicago: American Library Association.

Shuman,B. A. (2002).&nbspCasestudies in library security.Westport (Conn.: Libraries Unlimited.

Shuman,B. A. (2001).&nbspIssuesfor libraries and information science in the internet age.Englewood, Colo: Libraries Unlimited.

An example of the security door that would be required at DallasPublic Library.


Security Cameras required at vantage points particularly in areaswhere high-value collections are stored.


This being an impression of Boots Library, it also forms a picture ofthe realignment of Dallas Public Library. It is noteworthy that theDallas Library has only the outer walls as permanent, while the innersections are divided by cardboards. To enhance security, it would beimperative that they take a similar alignment as Roots Library.


Electro Magnetic Ribbons being put in place in the books to allow fordetection once anyone exits the library with a book.