How to Protect Your Library Assets from Book Theft and Threats
Library thefts are on a steady increase with reports of significant numbers of items either lost, stolen, or mysteriously missing. Our libraries are valuable institutions that provide access to information, education, and culture for everybody. However, libraries are now facing the challenge of how to best protect their materials from damage, theft, and natural disasters.
The National Library of Wales has been the most recent institution to report a significant amount of either lost, stolen, or missing library materials. Over 1,200 items are said to have been misplaced, including historical documents, maps, and paintings which the library has described as an “important and unique collection relating to legal administration of Wales before 1830.”
So How are Libraries Combatting Book Thefts?
In hopes of recovering some of the missing materials, libraries around the globe have taken part in ‘Book Amnesties’. Libraries in Peterborough, UK recently waived fines in hopes of recovering over 22,000 missing books.
Of course, book amnesties do their job in attracting library books back to their shelves, but libraries are still reporting red flags about books missing from their collections. West Hartford Library in Connecticut, USA has launched an investigation into missing books after new copies and editions have been noticed as missing. And Larchmont Public Library in New York has finally located a missing book after 90 years! Thankfully the $6,400 fine was waived due to the book being marked as ‘lost’ 30 days after the original due date, back in 1932.
With books mysteriously going missing, library stock is becoming limited, denying many patrons the opportunity to use public services that should typically be available to everyone. At D-Tech we’re passionate about driving libraries forward and supporting them to deliver equal opportunities to all members of the community. So, to help in these recent developments we’ve put our research hats on and have taken a deep dive into how libraries can keep their materials protected against threats to ensure stock is available for all patrons.
What is the most stolen library book in the world?
Did You Know?
When it comes to the most stolen library book, there seems to be a dispute. Coincidentally, some say, “The Guinness World Book of Records” holds the title, yet some of the classics such as Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” and Mark Twain’s “The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn”.
Here are some top tips on keeping your library assets safe!
1. Install a security system
Implementing a comprehensive, secure security system instantly gives you peace of mind when securing your valuable equipment. Alarms, gates and cameras to focus on potential areas of risk can reduce the risk of stolen library stock, and the pricey task of restocking your shelves! Libraries can also opt for specialised software, security systems, and databases that allow easy and accurate inventory tracking, making it easier for staff and librarians to keep on top of stock numbers.
2. Run a risk assessment
If you’re unsure of the risks you face, then running a thorough risk assessment can unlock the knowledge you need and help you understand the risks your stock faces. Different materials may be more valuable than others, such as legal documents, historical maps or extremely rare first editions of manuscripts.
Books from rare archives collections, or collections of national and cultural importance will obviously face higher risks and have more importance. If your library is home to some precious materials, it may be worthwhile appointing a security guard for that extra bit of security.
Vandalism, fire, water, pests and mold from direct sunlight can all make library materials vulnerable to damage. Conducting a risk assessment can help you pinpoint some of the immediate threats and flag up any potential threats in the future.
3. Temperature Control
Of course, security systems do their job in keeping library materials safe, but there are still other preventative measures you can include to be ready for anything thrown your way. Smoke detectors, sprinklers, and extinguishers can ensure you have the upper hand in protecting your stock against fire.
And air conditioning units, dehumidifiers, and fans to keep moisture-creating bacteria at bay eliminate any pests, mold, or high humidity damage.
Additionally avoid storing books and other media in places susceptible to leaks, dampness, or warping.
4. Educate, Educate, Educate
Perhaps the most important measure to take when securing library assets is making your community aware of the new culture you’re creating.
Educating your patrons and staff can sound like a routine task, but there are ways you can inject some creativity. Why not run workshops or interactive seminars on how to handle, store, and display your library materials?
Making sure members of your community are equipped with the necessary knowledge on how to look after library stock and how to respond to any damage, vandalism, or theft can help your patrons and staff protect your library and understand the rules, expectations, and consequences for damaging library stock.
5. Emergency Planning
58% of libraries in the US do not have a plan in place for emergencies or disasters, as reported by Syracuse University. And out of the 18% of libraries that do, staff are not trained to carry it out.
Being prepared for emergencies and disasters is essential when protecting your library stock, archives, patrons, and employees.
During emergencies, libraries have connected communities and supported the most vulnerable members which would not be possible if not for their own plans of action, for when disaster strikes.
Industry-leading organisations such as the American Library Association (ALA), Libraries Connected in the UK, and the British Library offer resource guides that include valuable insight and help libraries best prepare in the event of an unprecedented emergency.
We must keep our libraries safe, nowadays entire communities rely on libraries to provide social interaction, education, and connection. By creating a safe environment and a culture of respect for library stock, our public libraries will continue to thrive and deliver seamless patron experiences for all library service users.
D-Tech International offers a style meets security system solution that instantly allows for peace of mind on the safety of your library stock and archives. Fitted with RF (radio frequency) and RFID (radio frequency identification) technology, the secureIT range fits seamlessly into any library aesthetic, delivering a sleek and secure detection system. Offering multiple capabilities for different requirements, D-Tech can elevate your library security to ensure your library materials are safe.
Get in touch on our website for a free, no-obligation live demo.
As innovators of library technology for over 20 years, D-Tech International is always operating at the cutting-edge to develop the next generation of enhancements – speak to one of our experienced and friendly team to find out how new technologies could transform your patron experience.