Safety and Security of Libraries: Challenges and Opportunities

Safety and Security of Libraries: Challenges and Opportunities

J. John Jeyasekar, Aishwarya V.
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1482-5.ch016
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Library is a trinity of documents, patrons, and staff. The goal of library security systems is to offer a safe and secure environment to this trinity. There are both natural and man-made threats. Trained guards, locks, alarms, turnstiles, safes, security lighting, duress alarms, closed circuit televisions, and RFID are a few well-known security measures. RFID, the latest development, is being used in many libraries. Though some studies state RFID has health hazards, it has a lot of advantages making it popular. Modern library is also a storehouse of digital information and therefore digitized information, too, has to be secured. Information security programmes are also addressed in this chapter.
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Security is a noun derived from the Latin word secures, which means ‘free from danger’. It also means ‘freedom from fear or anxiety’ and it is ‘a state of being secure’. Fischer and Green (1998) write, “security implies a stable, relatively predictable environment in which an individual or group may pursue its ends without disruption or harm and without fear of such disturbance or injury”.

Safety is derived from the Latin word salvus, which means ‘safe’. It is defined as the state or quality of being safe. It is clear that security is generally focused on ensuring that external factors do not cause trouble or unwelcome situation while safety is the feeling of being protected from the factors that causes harm.

They may sound like synonymous terms but on a closer view they have a subtle difference. The person who inflicts harm on the organisation can feel safe but the security is the precautions we take to prevent the crime or harm from happening.

Eden and Matthews (1996), defines a disaster as an unexpected event that may drastically threaten the lives of humans or damage buildings, destroy the information infrastructure, disrupt services, and render documentary materials inaccessible to patrons. Security threats faced by library are both natural and man-made. Few examples of disasters are fire made by fire accidents, flood, bomb blasts and arson.


Threats To Documents

Documents in the library include books of various genres ranging from ancient to latest collection; journals; newspapers; multimedia collection, digital information and so on. Library resources are to be made use to the optimum level and also to be preserved for posterity.

There are both natural and man-made threats that would destroy them and make them unusable to the future patrons. It is a necessity that proper measures are taken to protect them from all possible damages that may or may not happen. Natural disasters pose great threat to the documents that hold endless value to the patron. Since we cannot stop the natural disaster from happening, the least we could do is, prepare to face it properly with lesser damage.

Some of the events that may pose risks to documentary materials include hurricanes, tornadoes, flash flooding, earthquakes, forest fires, volcanic eruptions, power outages, leaking roofs and pipes, chemical spills, theft, arson, bomb threats, and acts of war and terrorism (Eden & Matthews, 1996). The appropriate measures to prevent these disaster, is to plan the infrastructure of the library accordingly to the region’s geographical condition. Ground floors should be avoided when planning to build the library, as it is more prone to get damaged during flooding. Periodic checking of the building must be made mandatory along with the proper maintenance. The choices of materials in which the documents are placed also contribute in preserving them for longer shelf life.

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