Collection security issues in Malaysian academic libraries: an exploratory survey.

Author:Maidabino, Abass Atiku


Libraries must be safe from security threats and vulnerability. University library collections are broad and varied. University libraries support the educational community through access to the collections. Borrowing privileges is an important means of giving access to library collections for personal, educational, and socio-economic advancement. Gelfand (2005) calls the library, "the only centralized location where new and emerging information technologies can be combined with knowledge resources in a user-focused, services-rich environment that supports today's social and educational patterns of learning, teaching and research." Library services can only be achieved through the availability of library collections. Anunobi and Okoye (2008) state that, "academic libraries are faced with hybrid challenges of managing resources and are challenged to acquire the necessary skills." One challenge is the issue of collection security for print and non-print resources.

Chaney and MacDougall (1994) state that, "collections are very vulnerable to abuse of one sort or another and library managers need to keep this characteristic well to the forefront of the library." Ensuring effective use, longevity, and accessibility makes an effective program of collection security necessary. This program must include assessment of collection security issues and the measures use in curbing security breaches. This study explores collection security issues and measures used or adopted by the Malaysian university libraries to curb security breaches. Oyewusi and Oyeboade (2009) discuss the importance of access to collections in supporting the mission of the university. The researchers view the importance of good collections as a pointer to the need for safety and security for those collections.

Collection security refers to a process designed to protect library collections against un-authorized removal or loss. This involves protecting resources against disasters as well as thieves or intruders (Ajegbomogun, 2004). Information security governance is the manner in which information security is deployed (Da Veiga and Eloff (2007). Collection security management in libraries can be conceptualized to mean the overall manner in which collection security policies, programs, procedures, or measures are deployed to mitigate risk and ensure access.

Literature Review

The issue of collection security is of growing concern to university libraries and librarians. As a consequence, there is a vast literature on a range of problems concerning collection security in university libraries. Ugah (2007) considers collection security breaches as formidable obstacles to information access and use. Such acts are serious problems that can result in user dissatisfaction. He identifies major security issues in libraries to include: theft and mutilation; vandalism; damages and disaster; over borrowing or delinquent borrowers; and purposefully displacing arrangement of materials.

Book theft is a major security issue in libraries, particularly in academic libraries, with special collections being the most targeted materials, (Bello, 1998; Olorunsola, 1981). A study conducted by Olorunsola (1987) on academic library security discovered a relationship between high rates of security problems and the growth of the university. Not all thefts are committed by patrons. Some library staff take materials from the library without checking them out. This kind of theft, according to Lorenzen (1996), is one of the hardest to prevent, since library employees know how to defeat the security system. Ewing (1994) describes theft as only one type of collection security breach. Others include non-return of items by borrowers, vandalism, and stock destruction.

Bello (1998) conducted a study on theft and mutilation in technological university libraries in Nigeria, revealing that there is a lack of security in university libraries. Users resorted to delinquent behavior because demand outstripped the supply of library material. This results in competition for resources, which invariably tempts users to steal, mutilate, or engage in illegal borrowing.

Mutilation is the defacement or damage of library materials. Mutilation of academic library collections has been reported by many researchers (Ajegbomogun 2003; Bello 1998; Lorenzen 1996). Mutilation or vandalism occurs when users knowingly tear, mark, or otherwise damage or destroy materials, (Quincy Public Library, n.d). Lorenzen (1996), observes that collection mutilation takes many forms, ranging from underlining and highlighting text, tearing and or removing pages, and tampering with the content. Lorenzen identifies several causes for mutilation, including:

* Students' dissatisfaction or unfamiliarity with library services

* A lack of knowledge of replacement costs and time

* A lack of concern for the needs of others

* Few students think of library mutilation and theft as a crime.

Disruptive behavior is another security issue...

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