Theft, Vandalism, and Security in Libraries and Archives

Authored by: Sydney C. Van Nort

Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science, Fourth Edition

Print publication date:  November  2017
Online publication date:  November  2017

Print ISBN: 9781466552593
eBook ISBN: 9781315116143
Adobe ISBN:

10.1081/E-ELIS4-120053499

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Abstract

The scope of library theft is difficult to determine because accurate statistical data regarding annual losses of library materials in the United States are not available. Possibly over $25 million worth of library materials continue to come up missing from American library shelves, and the unauthorized accessing, and possible tampering, with digital collections or administrative records can be a problem as well. Book dealers can be effective allies in combating library theft, whether the perpetrator is a patron or a staff member. The notorious cases of theft by Daniel Spiegelman from the Columbia University Rare Book and Manuscript Library collections and of Stephen Carrie Blumberg, whose collecting mania spurred him to help himself to items from 327 libraries, are summarized. These cases illustrate the difficulties of detection or deterrence without the effective application of legal statutes and sentencing. The importance of the implementation of consistent security measures, whether it is the installation of security systems or policies as a planning process for the prevention of this type of disaster, is stated. Some suggested measures for theft prevention mentioned here are the installation of alarm systems, video surveillance, patron searching upon exiting, materials marking, and the use of colored photocopy paper. The need for effective communication among librarians and book dealers for the reporting and possible prevention of theft losses is noted.

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