Video Surveillance for Libraries
Libraries are an essential cultural institution - we use them at every stage of our lives, and their facilities make large bodies of books, research materials, and the internet available to the public for universal use. Video surveillance and security cameras are great security tools for libraries, as they can protect large areas of space and allow librarians and staff to immediately check in on concerns from the reference desk or office.
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How Security Cameras can benefit Public Libraries
Security – Patrons of all ages and types use libraries every day. Security cameras placed around the library can help keep them safe while reading, researching and browsing.
Prevent theft – It doesn't matter whether it's a Gutenberg bible or a Judy Blume book - every part of a library's collection is valuable. A video surveillance system working in conjunction with a barcode and magnetic book control system could help prevent book theft.
Flexibility – IP video systems allow users to place cameras where they are needed, and reconfigure them on a whim. Libraries, especially those that host community events, author readings, or children's book clubs, could benefit from the flexibile security that IP video provides.
Remote monitoring – Video surveillance systems that use IP cameras and a Network Video Recorder (NVR) allow libraries to broadcast their surveillance footage over the internet. This allows management and security to check in on libraries at any time should security concerns arise. The broadcast function could also be used to archive speakers or special events at the library.
Potential Risks of Library Security Cameras
Privacy - Library surveillance cameras should only record public areas like stacks, reading areas, conference rooms, and circulation desks. Keep cameras out of restrooms and breakrooms to protect the privacy of employees and patrons.
Considerations for Library Security Camera Systems
Libraries can vary widely - personal collections, public libraries, law libraries, science libraries, presidential libraries, even the Library of Congress all have different security needs. Consider the following when setting up a library surveillance system:
- What do you consider to be your most pressing security issue?
- Do you have any rare or valuable items in your collection?
- What type of security system do you currently have in place?
- Have you had any security threats in the past year?
Setup advice for Municipal Library Video Surveillance Systems
- Place cameras near entrances and exits to get clear photos of patrons as they enter and exit
- Cameras placed over stacks can help give a quick survey of an area, place other cameras closer in to give a more detailed look.
- Place cameras around valuable items like rare books and displays