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Subject: Security


From: Guy Baxter <g.baxter>
Date: Wednesday, April 25, 2001
Ko de van Watering <ko.vandewatering [at] kb__nl> writes

>Recently we had a case of theft of precious maps from books in our
>rare book collection. This has caused curators and library staff to
>start looking desperately for means of safeguarding the books in the
>special collections reading room.
>Someone has suggested to start weighing the books before and after
>(use). Is this a viable option and does anybody really employ this
>system? I was told that the British Library uses such a system but I
>have been unable to get any information on this. I still would
>prefer checking the books carefully before and after use.

The Museum Archives section of the National Art Library at the
Victoria and Albert Museum has, for many years, used a reading room
security system based on weighing documents on issue and return.

We find that this system, although not 100% foolproof, suits our
needs very well if used in conjunction with other security measures
in the reading room. It deters theft and allows us to check
documents quickly. We combine the weighing system with the following
measures: only one file is issued to a reader at a time; the reading
room is constantly supervised; readers are asked to leave coats and
bags at the entrance and we check their notes/papers if there is any
discrepancy in weight; readers must sign for each document they
consult; readers must produce proof of identity.

No system is entirely secure, and I am aware that library special
collections have different needs from archives: the special
collections of the National Art Library use a system based on
continuous close invigilation. We also have the advantage of limited
numbers of users. However, the system that we employ is as safe as
any that I have encountered.

I would be happy for any colleagues who have further enquiries to
contact me off-list.

Guy Baxter
Archive of Art and Design
Victoria and Albert Museum
23 Blythe Road
London  W14 0QX
+44 20 7603 1514
Fax: +44 20 7602 0980

                  Conservation DistList Instance 14:57
                  Distributed: Friday, April 27, 2001
                       Message Id: cdl-14-57-009
Received on Wednesday, 25 April, 2001

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