Monday, September 17, 2007

Book Thieves targeted at colleges & universities

Click on the title to this post to read an article from USA Today, Sept. 17, 2007, about various colleges and universities' efforts to thwart book theives.

Do you know how much your library spends to replace lost and stolen items each year? We designated a code in our library automated system to track such replacements and I was shocked at the size of the bill. We have full security with Checkpoint. We have only one entrance/exit open to the public. So it's not lack of security effort. But I have suspected some years that the students who work the night shifts on Reserve are helping themselves and their friends to reserve books. It's not every year, thank heavens. And let me hasten to add that most of our student workers are terrific: reliable, trustworthy, and great workers. But...

How else to explain when we lose thousands of dollars worth of reserve books from an area that is locked at night, and otherwise staffed all the time we are open with at least 3 or more people?

On the other hand, every library I have worked in has theft problems. It goes with the territory, sad to say. We have had items stolen out of staffers' desks. We have even had a locked cash box torn out of the wall it was installed in. There wasn't that much money in it, but it tells you somebody felt quite secure making a good bit of noise and mess. And somebody knew where it was and what was inside.

That one sounds like an inside job -- possibly the University police have somebody on staff with a drug problem? I can't get them to take that possibility seriously. How paranoid should I be? I don't want to alienate the good guys, but geez! The broken lock box doesn't sound like a casual thief or an outsider, does it?

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