Creating a safe haven for university students: How are we doing? Too frequently and often too late, academic librarians learn of patron experiences involving

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Nov 20, 2013 (3 years and 4 months ago)

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Creating a safe haven for university s
tudents: How are we doing?



Too frequently and often too late, academic librarians learn
of patron experiences involving

problem patrons,
misdemeanor criminal activity
, or poorly secured areas. Regrettably, these
experiences

can irrevocably diminish perceptions of access
to the vibrant learning spaces and
services offered by our institutions. This article assesses the current state of
secu
rity personnel
staffing
and
patron security
issues
at
25

public
,

four
-
year universities in two southeastern states.


KEYWORDS:
a
cademic libraries, access services, circulation services, library as place
,
o
rganizational models
,
sec
urity
,
staffing,
problem p
atrons





Mark Sanders

Assistant Director for Public Services

Joyner Library
-
Mail Stop 516

East Carolina University

sandersm@ecu.edu



The author would like to than Justin Kingery, graduate assistant at East
Carolina University, for
his research aid.


1


INTRODUCTION


The role of
access services

is constantly shifting
along
with our patrons’ evolving
expectations regarding learning spaces, technology and services
. Too frequently and often
too
late,

academic

librarians learn of user experiences involving problem patrons, misdemeanor
criminal activity, or poorly secured areas.
Regrettably, these experiences can irrevocably
diminish
the perception
of access to the vibrant learning spaces and
servi
ces offered by our
institutions
. Most libraries already work hard at outreach to bring in users.
Once inside,
e
stablishing a haven
of safety for patrons
must
be of paramount importance to libraries
.


Although no

library

is completely free of security
concerns,
serious crime in academic
libraries in the United States

is rare

overall
.
Given

the
millions

of visits they receive annually
,
academic

libraries are
very

safe spaces
.

The

extent of criminal activity in

academic libraries
tends to be primarily m
isdemeanor in nature
--

larceny, vandalism, disturbance of the peace,
and various forms of misdemeanor indecency. However, these incidents can combine to create
an atmosphere of insecurity. As Shuman noted, people have a basic need to feel safe and
secure
. If they do not, they will go elsewhere to satisfy their information needs

(1999).

Libraries
are already experiencing students’ exclusive reliance on free, online information

of dubious
quality
. Taking
proper
inventory
of security
and proactive care
can
help libraries avoid further
erosion of their user base.


This article p
resents

the results of a survey of the curre
nt state of l
ibrary patron security
at the 25

public
,

four
-
year universities in North Carolina and South Carolina. How are
the

libraries
served by security personnel?
How are

patrons
made aware of potential dangers and
ways to protect their persons and property
?

How do patrons
report security issues when they
encounter them?

What are the common
patron

security incidents which have been r
eported
recently in our university libraries?
Lastly,
what changes have recently been made or

should be
made

in the future?


2


LITERATURE REVIEW


In his article, “The Correct Mindset,” Charles Reed points out that libraries are no longer
“simply qu
iet place
s to study and to read


(2008).

Changes include 24/7 access, cafes, exhibits,
and a proliferation of collaborative and individual learning spaces. The
se

changes present
challenges for those who must secure the facilities and their users. Reed’s article s
uggests
solutions based in architectural design, access control, and video surveillance, suggesting that
library administrators take full advantage of developments that have occurred in
the
sec
urity
systems field since 2001
.


Betty Braaksma

describes the ways in which the Thunder Bay Public Library in
Ontario

handled increasing security concerns by forming the Thunder Bay Public Library's Security Task
Force

(1998)
. Although the impetus for this was an increase in serious and frightening
enc
ounters with patron
s in a public library, the
article was important
to all types of libraries
because, prior to this, most writings on library security concentrated largely on the security of
the collections rather

than
staff and user safety
.

Herbert McGui
n’s case study of security at
Sims Memorial Library at
Southeastern Louisiana University emphasizes the helpfulness of a
visible, uniformed, full
-
time security officer. He also discusses the importance of administrative
support and engagement of library st
aff in improving s
ecurity

(2010).

Senyah

and Lamptey
’s
case study of pers
onal security and safety in Ghana’s
Kwame Nkrumah University of Science
and Tech
nology Library echoes Mc
Guin and emphasizes the need to deploy

sec
urity personnel
to patrol both
inside

the library and outside the building, not merely guard

the library’s entrance
and exit

(2011).



Raffensperger

explores whether urban academic libraries
are
more dangerous than their
less urban counterparts

(2010)
.

The author uses data gathered under the
Jeanne Clery
Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crim
e Statistics Act or “Clery Act”,

as well
as

Federal Bureau of Investigation data on crime reported on college and university campuses.

As he notes li
braries
do not consistently collect or report incident

data. Nevertheless, the
3


campus
-
level data can provide a foundation for
a broa
d framework for risk assessment.

Ra
ffensperger concludes that “
local conditions vary significantly.




Guidelines for best
practices in patron security are ample and
readily
available. Many
handbooks hav
e been developed
and published by professional organizations such as the

American Library Association (ALA) and Association of Research Libraries (ARL).
A good
starting point

is the SPEC (Systems and Procedures Exchange Center)

survey conducted by
ARL

in which 45 institutions responded to questions about how they assure the safety and
security of their patrons and collection
s

(1999)
.
The kit contains the survey results and
rep
resentative documents, including general policy statements, rules, emergency manuals,
incident forms, and training aids. Somewhat surprisingly
, the
m
ajority of libraries
were

not
happy with their current security programs and most planned future changes.


One would think
that such an important campus consideration as security programs would be satisfactorily
addressed as among the most fundamental concerns.


Shuman’s
previously cited “Librar
y security and safety handbook”

remains refreshingly
relevant
despite being published a little more than ten years ago

(1999)
. It provides valuable
checklists for addressing expectations of patron behavior, establishing security procedures,
training staff, and managing legal issues. Rich, practical examples of both

real and hypothetical
situations are presented to highlight specific issues, as well as text boxes,
sample policies,
a
glossary and extensive bibliography from the 1980s and 1990s. Future issues such as
subliminal warning messages and biometric passwords
have not materialized yet, but are topics
that persist in consideration (however
dystopian

they appe
ar

at first glance).
Both of these

text
s
are
good introduction
s

to methods for approaching a general security framework.


A similar
overview of
the issues
can be found in “Protecting library staff, users,
collections, and facilities”, which was published in the series “How
-
to
-
do
-
it manual for libraries”

(2001)
. Within its coverage of such a broad subject are useful chapters on environmental scans
and patron

security. This work is unique in two ways. It includes a short chapter dedicated to
4


security planning during special events located adjacent to libraries such as

cultural
celebrations, sporting events, VIP visits, concerts, and conventions. It also giv
es information
about personal safety, not just building and collections safety, during emergencies and
disasters. This is time
ly information given the
snowstorms, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and
other extreme weather events experienced across the Unite
d States since 201
0 (Tigay, 2011).

Solutions to patron security issues are provided according to an i
ntensity scale ranging from low
to medium to high
. At the low end are policy statements, which should anchor any security
framework, and staff training.
At the other, more expensive end, are security professionals and
electronic surveillance systems. The most critical factors for framing a patron security
ecosystem are summarized as: location, budget, governance and the size/type of library.


One of the m
ost recent
ly published guides to
ensuring patron security is “The library
security and safety guide to prevention, planning, and response”

(
Kahn,
2008)
. Divided into
three major sections, the publication examines building security, collections and equipme
nt
security, and patron and staff safety.

The r
ecommendations for s
taff behavior
al guidelines when
confronting problem patrons
,

and suggested s
equen
ce of reporting problems to the appropriate
personnel
,

are

helpful

for establishing clearly defined procedures.
Equally valuable are the
layouts of recommended library security personnel qualifications and the process for cultivating
relationships with community public safety offices such as the police and fire departmen
ts.

T
he
appendices
provide a generous sample of
resource organizations and
checklists, with a
particular focus on insurance aspects.


Overall, the existing literature on patron security provides an abundant source of
baseline recommendations for a securit
y framework to address the common issues confronting
libraries in the area of security personnel staffing, problem patron behavior, and procedures to
create a safe environment.
The Buildings and Equipment Section of the Library Leadership and
Management A
ssociation (LLAMA) of ALA recently published a “Library Security Guidelines
Document”, which suggests industry standards and recommends best practices from experts in
5


the field of library security

(
2010).
A distillation of
considerations and questions for

university
libraries are
:


1.
How are the surveyed

university
libraries served by security personnel?
Are
there library
-
based

security
personnel
or a
n exclusive

reliance on campus police

or law enforcement
external
to the library
?

2.
What are the
types of written documenta
tion related to patron security?

3.
What guidance is provided to students to protect their persons and property?


4
. What are
the
most

common

student
security

issues that security personnel encounter?

5
.
W
hat changes have recently been made or
are desired
?


METHODOLOGY


The considerations and questions
distilled
from the literature
provide a useful approach
to survey the current state of security in our university libraries. To
take a small
measure
of
how
we are doing, the author
s

researched the answers

to these questions at
the
public, four
-
year
university libraries of two southeastern states
.

Data was

collected

fr
om representatives of
25

in
stitutions in
N
orth Carolina and South Carolina

(See:
Appendix 1
)
. These states contain
a
total of
27 public, four year institution
s
;

however
,

data was unavailable for two institutions which
did not respond to inquiries for information.
For the purposes of this research, classification as
four
-
year, public university
and total FTE is taken from the 38
th

edition of
The College Blue Book

(2011). Security personnel are defined as employees whose duties consist solely of ensuring
security and do not perform any other service or work within the library. It does not count
staff
members who are designated as security supervisors or liaisons in addition to their regular
library duties.


Surveys were conducted by phone
or email with the person judged to be in the best
position to speak to the library’s security issues, which o
ften depends upon whether the library
6


has
library
-
based
security staffing or relies exclusively on campus police

or law enforcement
external to the library
.
In the case of
library
-
based security staffing
, the security supervisor was
usually contacted. In

cases where the library relies
exclusively
on
external
security, the
appropriate contact was usually someone in Access Services
/Circulation
, Facilities or L
ibrary
Administration
.
The collected data includes:
the
categories of security staffing; documenta
tion
related to patron security;
guidance given to patrons (mostly students) about potential danger
s
and ways to report incidents;
common issues
and concerns for patron safety;
and recently made
or desire
d changes to improve security.
Although some of the surveyed institutions have one or
more departmental libraries, for the purposes of this research the questions concerned the
facility considered to be the main library on campus
.
A list of the survey questions appears in
Appendix 2.



FINDINGS

AND DISCUSSION


The first question concerning the
composition an
d organization of
personnel providing
security
for the library
yields

answers which are strongly correlated to th
e university’s

enrollment

(see Table 1)
.
Student enrollment at

the 2
5

universities can be neatly subdivided into three
ranges based upon full
-
time equivalent (FTE): 0


5,000

FTE

(9

institutions); 5,000


10,000
FTE
(6

institu
tions); and 10,000


30,000
FTE
(10

institutions).
Table 1 sho
ws the c
omposition
of
library
-
based

security personnel staffing
during at least part of the regular semester operating
hours
, not necessarily all of the operating hours.
It is important to note that
library
-
based
security s
taffing in some libraries only covers the late
-
shift hours.


Of t
he
ten
institutions with
more than 10,000 FTE,
nine

report having
library
-
based
security personnel during

at least part of

the
regular semester
operating hours.
Out of

the

nine
libraries
, six
report maintaining
library
-
based
staffing
during
all

regular semester operating
hours.

Interestingly, the three largest institutions
based upon FTE
do n
ot provide

library
-
based
security during daytime hours.
At first glance, it would seem that the largest institutions would
7


have the most comprehensive secu
rity coverage.
Instead, they only provide library
-
based
sec
urity personnel during the
early evening and
late
-
shift operating hours. At a
ll other times
these three universities rely exclusively
upon campus p
olice external to the library.


On
e large
univer
sity
library
with no

regular
library
-
based security reports

that
it does
employ private security based within the library for the late
-
shift during the two weeks prior to
exams.
The decision to provide late
-
night on
-
site security only during exams was made

in
recent years due to budget cuts.

Among these
ten

largest
i
nstitutions, only three report

having
library
-
employed
security
. Two of these libraries combined library
-
employed security with
private security during the late
-
shift. One library relies excl
usively upon library
-
employed
security, having two guards on
-
duty during all operating hours.


Three

of the 15

libraries

with an enrollment
fewer than 10,000 FTE
report having library
-
based security personnel

during any of the operating hours.
Among these
libraries: one
has
campus police based in the libra
ry during all operating hours; one
relies upon a patrolling private
security gu
ard from 5:00 p.m. until closing; and one relies
upon a patrolling campus police
officer after service desks have closed. All

other institutions rely exclusively upon campus
police
or law enforcement
external to the library during all operating hours.


Several
libraries who have no
libra
ry
-
based security report that
staff and/or students
are
charged with making periodic patrol
s
of the building to monitor activity.
This effort is most often
applied

to make a library
security
presence known

throughout the building
.
O
ne library
reports
that
there are designated security supervisors within the circulation department

who perform
scheduled rounds
. The Head of Circulation at this institution
noted
an advantage library
staff
members have
over sec
urity personnel. Library staff can
recognize
suspicious behavior
and
anomalies
that would
otherwise
appear innocuous to a layp
e
rson. A real life example cited
was
a young patron who app
eared to be browsing the stacks,
but was
actually

spying on females.
He was discovered when it was noticed his browsing included an aged set of foreign language
chemistry journals which were not i
ndexed online.


8



Libraries report that security personnel are frequently charged with miscellaneous duties
in addition to their primary job responsibilities. Maintaining a master key to open doors as
needed is f
requently
mentioned
,

but
o
nly
two of the li
braries with dedicated library
-
employed
security report having security personnel maintain
full
responsibility for
control and issuance of
keys to staff
.

More often it is the responsibility of campus police or a Facilities or Administration
unit within th
e library. Similarly, most lost and f
ound procedures and inventory are maintained
by
staff in Access Services. Two l
ibraries report that they give to campus police any
valuable

items turned in to lost and found.
However
,

the security personnel assume fu
ll responsibility for
the operation of a lost and found service
in
two of the
libraries

with library
-
employed security
.


In response to the question about

the

types of written documentation related to patron
security
, 18 of the 25 surveyed institutions have policies proscribing behavior guidelines for
patrons. These guidelines describe permissible and impermissible conduct, noise levels,
hygiene,
age requirements,
and other user expectations.

Security may refer to t
he
s
e

documented policies when incidents arise that disrupt the library environment and address the
situation appropriately.
Inappropriate computer use is another area of concern for academic
libraries since viewing obscene mate
rial can create a hostile
environment for

many library

patrons

and is a concern for both administrators and parents
. Although this issue is more acute
in public libraries, academi
c libraries are not immune
. In fact, given the delicate balance
between academic freedom and patently

offensive material, it is even more important to
precisely outline what is acceptable and unacceptable in the university library environment.
Somewhat surprisingly, even more libraries have separate policies proscribing appropriate
computer use than
thos
e with a policy of generally
appropriate behavior.
Of the 25 libraries
surveyed, 21 provide a specific policy
which addresses

appropriate computer use.



A
ll libraries report
that
a
n incident

report is created when
serious
security incidents arise

which
require a response
.
However,
the
way in which
incident reports are disseminated varies.
Incidents documented
by
library
-
employed security or private security

are always sent to the
9


library’s administration and
may be forwarded to campus police. Converse
ly, incident reports
documented by campus police
always become part of the department’s records, and may be
forwarded to library administration. There appears to be no common best practice among the
libraries surveyed, but instead the dissemination of inc
ident reports
varies depending upon

the
security staffing framework of the institution and institutional guidelines.
Consistency is noted
among a
ll libraries that employ private security
.
Th
ese
libraries
report that they provide
documentation which falls

under the umbrella of “post orders”. In other words, the library
provides a checklist of expectations for the security firm’s execution of job responsibilities and
response to security incidents.


Guidance
provided to students
includes ways
to protect th
eir persons and property
, as
well as how to report security concerns. Warning s
ignage such as flyers and table tents

are

w
idespread
in libraries
. These physical items
are among the cheapest and easiest to
implement. However, in this age of ove
r
-
signage and
signage pollution,
their
meaningful impact
is debatable. Several
libraries
surveyed
report

additional innovative ways in which to warn
students to not leave their belongings unattended
and raise awareness of their surroundings.
These includ
e images of unsecured laptops on screensavers and plasma screens
,

as well as
friendly reminder notes left on unattended belongings.

Similarly, patrons most often report
security concerns in person.
Yet a
nother innovative way
which takes advantage of popu
lar
technology
is Instant M
essage

(IM)
. Nearly a quarter of libraries surveyed report that students
have used

IM to notify library staff of concerns
, either directly
to security personnel
or via a
n IM
to a

reference librarian. A noted advantage is not on
ly the ease and anonymity of this
communication
method, but also the avoidance of having to physically leave an area and/or
personal belongings to notify security

in person
.


Libraries were asked to list the
most common student security issues that securit
y
personnel encounter

(
see Table 2). Predictably, theft
and simple larceny
is cited most often. It
is mentioned by 16 of the 25 libraries surveyed. The issues immediately following theft are
10


perennial concerns for libraries: graffiti,
suspicious persons
/trespass
, and noise.
Interestingly,
although 21 libraries confirm having a computer use policy, only three libraries mentioned
inappropriate computer use as a common security issue.
However, several noted that it had
been a past problem that was success
fully addressed by reconfiguration of computer seating
arrangements and access permissions for non
-
university affiliates.
Perhaps
these strategies,
coupled with
the widespread establishment of computer policy documentation
,

have
successfully
prevented greater
frequency of the problem
.

Another surprising finding was the
mention of medical issues
by three libraries
as a
common
security concern. Security personnel
are often first responders to libraries when there is a medical emergency. Altho
ugh security is
often classified in the category of enforcement, it nevertheless also deals with
health related
issues.

American Heart Association certification of proficiency in performing cardiopulmonary
resuscitation (CPR) and automated external defibr
illator (AED) application is practically a
necessity for security personnel. Credentialing as an emergency medical technician (EMT) at
the basic level is highly desirable.


The final question posed to libraries asked what changes have recently been made o
r
are desire
d

in the area of security. The most popular response was the installation of video
surveillance cameras. Eight libraries reported that effective deployment of cameras had
recently been successfully implemented or is highly desired. Cameras a
re noted to be not only
a deterrent to crime, but also a

great help in recovery
of stolen items
and conviction

of
perpetrators
.

The proliferation of video surveillance in
university
public areas, not just
in
libraries, appears to be a trend that will
only
increase

in the near future. Cultivating a stronger
relationship with security personnel was cited by seven libraries as a desired change. Stronger
relationships are judged likely to foster greater connections and engagement between security
personnel an
d library stakeholders. Specific areas mentioned are clarifying security duties,
library involvement in the selection and hiring of security personnel, and requesting increased
11


patrols and security presence within the libraries. Only two libraries report
that no changes
have

been recently made or are desired.




CONCLUSION


As Braaksma notes, “t
he public retains a vision of the library as the kind of genteel
Victorian institution that She
rlock Holmes would have enjoyed” (1998).

While this is a quaint
sentiment
, it is n
ot entirely accurate
. Unfortunately, libraries

must
face

very

real and serious
issues regarding

the provision of security at their institutions.
This article has provided an
general
overview of the current envir
onment at libraries in 25 public, four
-
year universities in two
southea
stern states and found that security issues are
indeed being
competently

addressed
.
Only relatively minor infractions were cited as common security concerns. All surveyed libraries
re
port formal coordination with security divisions at their institutions

and procedures for incident
documentation. Nearly 75% of libraries report having formal guidelines for patron behavior and
appropriate computer use.
Efforts

are made at all libraries
to provide patron guidance
to protect
their persons and
property
.

While a stronger relationship with security personnel is desired at
more than a quarter of
surveyed
libraries, none report serious shortcomings in security
efforts.
Some
direction
s

for fu
tur
e research are
to
measure
four year public university
patrons’
perception of
safety and
security

and/or apply the survey to community colleges, which have a
different patron group than universities and therefore likely need different security frameworks
.
Another is to
examine
university
crime log statistics required by the Clery Act to discover
any

correlation between reported criminal activity
with
in and adjacent to university libraries and
whether or not the library has library
-
based security personne
l.



12


R
EFERENCES


American Library Association, LLAMA BES Safety & Security of Library Buildings Committee:.

(2010). Library security guidelines document. Retrieved from website:

http://www.ala.org/llama/sites/ala.org.llama/files/content/publications/LibrarySecurityGuide.pdf


Braaksma, E. B. (1998). Zero tolerance at the l
ibrary: The work of the Thunder Bay public

library's security task force. Library & Archival Security, 14(2), 43
-
49.

C
ollege blue book (2011). (38th ed.). Detroit: Gale/Cengage Learning.

Cravey, P. J. (2001). Protecting library staff, users, collections,
and facilities : A how
-
to
-
do
-
it

manual. New York: Neal
-
Schuman Publishers.

Intner, S. S., Johnson, P., Morrison, A. M., & Kahn, M. (2009). Studies in library and information

science. New Delhi: Pentagon Press.

Kahn, M. B. (2008). The library security and

safety guide to prevention, planning, and response.

Chicago: American Library Association.

McGuin, H. (2010). The evolution of security at Sims Memorial Library: A case study. Library &

Archival Security, 23(2), 105
-
115. doi:10.1080/01960075.2010.495328

Raffensperger, T. E. (2010). Safety and security in urban academic libraries: A risk assessment

approach to emergency preparedness. Urban Library Journal, 16(1). Retrieved from

http://ojs.cunylibraries.org/index.php/ulj/article/view/16


Reed, C. (2008). The correct mindset. Library & Archival Security, 21(2), 59
-
67.

doi:10.1080/01960070802201334

Senyah, Y., & Lamptey, R. B. (2011). Personal security and safety in academic librar
ies: A case

study of the Kwame Nkrumah University of science and technology library, Kumasi,

Ghana. Library & Archival Security, 24(2), 83
-
102. doi:10.1080/01960075.2011.604642

Shuman, B. A. (1999). Library security and safety handbook : Prevention, poli
cies, and

procedures. Chicago: American Library Association.

13


Soete, G. J., Zimmerman, G., Association of Research Libraries, & Office of Leadership and


Management Services. (1999). Management of library security : A SPEC kit.

Washington, DC: Systems an
d Procedures Exchange Center, Office of Leadership and

Management Services, Association of Research Libraries.

Tigay, C. (2011, September 9). Extreme weather. CQ Researcher, 21, 733
-
756. Retrieved from

http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/




14


APPENDIX 1: INSTITUTIONS SURVEYED


More than 10,000 FTE

Appalachian State University

Clemson

University

College of Charleston

East Carolina University

North Carolina State University

University of Nor
th Caro
lina at Chapel Hill

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

University of North Carolina at Wilmington

University of South Carolina


5,000 to 10,000 FTE


North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State
University

Western Carolina University

North Carolina Central University

Winthrop University

University of South Carolina

Upstate

University of North Carolina at Pembroke


5,000 to 10,000 FTE


The Citadel

Elizabeth City State University

Fayetteville State

University

Francis Marion University

Lander University

University of North Carolina at Asheville

University of South Carolina

Aiken

University of South Carolina

Beaufort

Winston Salem State University



15


APPENDIX 2: SURVEY QUESTIONS



1.
How are the
surveyed

university
libraries served by security personnel?
Are
there library
-
based

security
personnel
or a
n exclusive

reliance on campus police

or law enforcement external
to the library
?

2. What are the types of written documenta
tion related to patron

security?

3. What guidance is provided to students to protect their persons and property?

4
. What are
the most

common student security issues that security personnel encounter?

5
.
W
hat changes have recently been made or
are desired
?



16




Table 1:
Library security staffing at university libraries
(n=25
)


University e
nrollment

in FTE

No security
based in the
library

Campus police
based in the
l
ibrary

only

Library
-
employed
security based in
the l
ibrary

only

Private security
based in the
l
ibrary

only

Both library
-
employed and
private security
based in the
l
ibrary


10,000
-

30,000

1

4

1

2

2

5,000
-

10,000

4

2

0

0

0

0
-

5,000

8

0

0

1

0







Total

1
3

6

1

3

2








Table 2
: Most frequently

cited

security issues

at university libraries


Larceny/T
heft

16

Graffiti

7

Suspicious person
/trespass

6

Noise/Loud behavior

5

Vandalism

3

Inappropriate computer viewing

3

Medical

3