Security measures ward off book vandals, libraries say
Even though the destruction of library material and other public documents remains a challenge for Jamaica’s Library and Information Association, the implementation of high-tech security initiatives at local libraries has led to a decline in book vandalism.
Speaking at a Gleaner Editors’ Forum held at the newspaper’s central Kingston offices, David Drysdale, librarian at the University of Technology (UTech), Jamaica, said that he recalls that the destruction of library material was more prevalent years ago.
“We have security systems to protect or print resources, and so we have seen far less attempts at mutilating books. In the past, before the systems, you would see textbooks that are heavily used with missing pages. The students tear them out,” said Drysdale.
“It still happens, but the incidents are fewer and far between these days. The fact is that they (students) don’t know exactly where the security tape is inside the book ... , and the alarm will still go on,” said Drysdale, referring to sensors at the library exits.
The decrease in material and book destruction is also being felt at public libraries, but according to Kishma Simpson, director of the Public Library Network, employees at the island’s 116 libraries must remain vigilant.
“Because of the technology that we have, persons find it much more convenient to copy or take a picture of the information that they want with their smartphones,” she said.
“Back then, it would have had an impact on the availability of material, particularly if you don’t have multiple copies of the publication available,” she said, noting that librarians and record keepers spend huge sums and much time to preserve books and other documents each year.
“Our books are freely available to our users, so you may have occurrences that we may not be able to identify who is responsible for the destruction,” she said.