Security gates added to this year’s library budget
Due to an increase in missing books from the Rosezella Battles Library, Director of Library Services, Christina Rogers is including funds for security gates in this year’s library budget. Since King’s moved to 56 Broadway in 2012, the library has only relied on the checkout system and Honor Code to prevent books from going missing. Like most college libraries, The King’s College library anticipates a missing book rate of two to three percent, according to Rogers. But at the end of the fall semester, more than two dozen books were unaccounted for.
In the Empire State Building campus, library security gates alerted staff if a student attempted to leave with a book that hadn’t been properly checked out. Benjamin Harrison, a senior who has worked at the library for about a year said the way the library is set up now is less secure. “It’s easier to sneak out through the front and back,” he said.
Many of the missing books are from the ethics, religion and philosophy sections. Last semester this made it difficult for students, especially those working on senior theses, to finish papers. Dan Kemp, a PP&E major who graduated in December, struggled to find several books for his senior thesis, including a copy of Aquinas by Eleonore Stump and the Oxford Handbook of Metaphysics by Peter van Inwagen and Dean Zimmerman.
Kemp pointed out that most of the books that go missing are expensive and usually only useful to a small group of students. “I checked with the only 3 people I could think of that would have any use for them,” Kemp wrote in an email. “They didn't know anything about their whereabouts.”
Rogers said she suspects missing books are largely a matter of laziness. “Books are often mysteriously taken, mysteriously returned,” she said noting that many reappear at the end of the semester.
Harrison said he’s seen students return books they have inadvertently kept for a summer, sometimes for a year or two. He echoed Rogers saying that it’s a matter of laziness and students taking for granted a school that’s “small...and very forgiving."
Vice President of Finance, Frank Torino said the situation is dishonest and frustrating. “We’re supposed to be better because of our Honor Code,” he said.
He explained the cost of improving library security. The gates will cost several thousand dollars. Additionally, the installation will require maneuvering building and union requirements. He admitted it hasn’t been an immediate priority, explaining that the school has tight funds and other necessary expenditures.
“It’s a cost-benefit analysis,” he explained. “Is it cheaper to just replace the books? On the other hand, can this affect the quality of life for students?”
The budget has to be approved by several departments before it's finalized. It is currently before the Office of Academic Affairs. If approved, it will go on to the Chief Financial Office and the President's Cabinet for review. Ultimately, Torino said, the Board of Trustees will approve the final budget.
Harrison is hopeful. He said security gates will make the jobs of student workers much easier and make the library feel more official. “You can patrol as much as you can, but you can’t cover everything," Harrison said.