Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Editorial Urges Library Security

An editorial in yesterday's Concord Monitor uses the example of E. Forbes Smiley to push for better library security measures:

"Smiley's career led many of the world's premiere libraries to make security improvements, but most smaller institutions, including many in New Hampshire, remain very vulnerable. Libraries that haven't completely cataloged their collections - a box of papers from a famous person, for example - or taken note of the rare maps and prints that can easily be excised from seldom-read books are easy prey for a knowledgeable thief.

The collections of the world's libraries are in trust for all humanity. The challenge for institutions is to make their contents as accessible as possible while simultaneously safeguarding them. That's not easy to do.

There will never be money enough to provide perfect security or even, perhaps, to catalog every item in a way that makes it accessible to the public online, but the latter effort should be undertaken. Searchable, online catalogs of a library or museum's contents make its easy for honest dealers, other museums, researchers and law enforcement to identify stolen items."

The editorial goes on to urge communities to take advantage of a state grant program which offers up to $10,000 "to improve the storage conditions, security, conservation and microfilming of town records. Every community should take advantage of the program to catalog what they own and to take steps to foil thieves like Smiley."

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