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My Camera Editorial Advisory Board comment published on Sept. 8, 2007:

Boulder’s main public library may not resemble Fort Knox. However, for the steep price tag of nearly $500,000 approved by City Council this week to protect the library’s 387,000 books, DVDs and CDs, it might want to look that way. Appearance is a deterrent as is already known from the effects of the current installed gates. Still, Boulder began investigating a new technology, Radio Frequency Identification, or RFID, in February 2006. It has gates, sensors and tags somewhat like other systems. It also allows for speedy, multiple check-out scans and can manage the library’s inventory from check-out to check-in and reshelving.

Security benefits are far less clear. I found it extremely interesting that libraries who responded to the Feb. 22, 2006, Library Materials Security questionnaire with absolutely no security systems found loss rates from theft only between 2 percent and 3 percent. That’s only a little higher than Boulder’s 0.15 percent loss rate last year. So, if Boulder did nothing at all, it’s likely most people will continue to stick to the honor system.

Then, there are two other points to consider brought up by survey responders. Edward A. Scott for the U.S. Air Force Academy’s library said library security systems are, at best, intimidation of the timid, and those intent on stealing will find ways to get around any security system. Others added that more losses in libraries come from unreturned check-outs than from theft.

If these representatives from Colorado libraries are right, and I believe they are, Boulder should look less to expensive security systems to prevent thefts and more to recovery services for its no returns. Douglas Country Libraries has already blazed the path there.

*This title was not part of the original Camera publication.


Source: Daily Camera


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