This week we looked at the multiple ways libraries can utilize technology to protect patrons and resources. Protecting patrons’ personal information from identity theft through malware or viruses while on public computers is a feat that many libraries are struggling with. Protecting the library technology is also important to help save money and keep patrons safe from unprotected computers.
Libraries must team with in house technical teams and campus wide offices of technology to help keep technology policy up to date. A library or campus wide computing policy is a good way to handle cyber crime and attacks (purposeful or not) on the technology and patron data. Recently we had a cyber crimes incident in the library I work at. Thankfully because of our written policy and standard operating procedures the person was referred to campus policy and the computer was taken for investigation. Had effective surveillance, security and alert procedures not been in place what could the library have done? The textbook and reading discuses many ways to keep the library and our patrons safe with high tech options as well as low budget, person focused ways to prevent intentional and un-intentional attacks on hardware, software and data. Written policy that is communicated to patrons is the first step. Updating hardware with the current software is the next and providing professional development to IT professionals who handle the malware defense is a great way to ensure the library stays on the defensive to protect resources and data.
In addition to professional development the careful task of purchasing security technology for the library on any budget helps protect people and resources. RFID tags and metallic “tattle tape” are two options for securing library materials and alerting staff if an item is taken out of the library without being properly checked out. The system costs for 3M workstations, security gates and RFID tag creators, readers and self check machines are costly. The library needs to weigh the pros and cons of these systems and determine if the initial cost will benefit their budget in the long run. RFID tags provide an easy way to complete inventory and quickly and accurately check out materials to patrons. RFID tags contain data regarding the book and can be desensitized upon check out by staff or a self check out machine. Our library ran into budget constraints in 2009 and decided to no longer purchase RFID tags for new collections, this was an easy money saver at the time because the library was paying approximately $2 per tag, with almost 2 million volumes the savings would add up quickly. Then in 2012 when the library finally ran out of tags and books were coming to the self check out machine or to the circulation desk there were some issues that arose. We had to purchase separate sensitizers at $1500 a piece for each workstation to re-sensitize the tattle tape in items without RFID tags, our stacks manager had to purchase separate inventory devices and complete inventory by pulling books off the shelf to scan the barcodes instead of running a wand across the entire shelf and we had to put four 3M self check machines in storage because patrons could no longer successfully check out materials on their own as the machines could not handle items with out tags.
Looking at the long-range budget plans should be priority when attempted to secure library technology and resources. Planning for the future of technology and patrons’ needs ensures tight library budgets are not going to waste. Preparing written policy and informing staff and patrons of the policy and the standard operating procedures allows the library to ensure safety of data and library hardware.