Library installs 42 new security cameras with money from DHS grant

Library installs 42 new security cameras with money from DHS grant
BIG BENDER IS WATCHING — Over 42 new security cameras were installed in Bender Library over winter break. The cameras will be monitoring high traffic areas of the library to increase visibility and cut down on laptop thefts.

Over winter break, new security cameras were installed in Bender Library to cut down on thefts and ensure students’ safety, according to University Librarian Bill Mayer.

The 42 new security cameras were strategically installed in high traffic areas in Bender Library such as the library entrance, some main floor areas, stairwell entrances and some corners. The cameras can also be relocated if necessary. Mayer said he hopes to have the security camera system in full operation by March 1.

The cameras will help the library staff keep track of many different parts of the library at once, he said.

“The cameras can be used to review incidents in high traffic areas for faster incident review and resolution, and they are intended to provide a visible deterrent to crime,” Mayer said.

A string of thefts occurred in Bender Library during the 2008-2009 school year. Over 34 laptops were stolen with three theft instances in just one week, The Eagle previously reported.

The installation of security cameras was made possible with help from Public Safety, which oversees the cameras, according to Mayer. Public Safety was given a grant from the Department of Homeland Security last fall to increase security in Bender Library.

Despite some student concerns about the government having access to the video from the cameras, they have no need to worry, Mayer said. The Department of Homeland Security is the financer of the security cameras but will be unable to view or obtain any tapes produced in Bender Library, according to Mayer.

Only authorized library and Public Safety personnel will be able to view security tapes, Mayer said. The security tapes will be recorded onto digital hard drives and kept for 30 days. Public Safety officers may view the tapes in the event of an incident in the library.

Mayer said that student privacy would be a top priority in the operation of the library security cameras.

“[The cameras] are not in restrooms, offices or meeting rooms,” Mayer said. “The cameras are not able to view what you are reading, typing or viewing onscreen or on your personal devices.”

Some AU students had mixed feelings about the new security cameras.

Natalie Pappas, a graduate student in the College of Arts and Sciences, said she welcomes the security cameras as long as they are a deterrent to library crime.

“It’s hard to do your work when you’re worried about getting your stuff stolen if you choose to leave your seat,” Pappas said, “This is a public place and sometimes you have to give [your privacy] up to ensure that you will be kept safe.”

Clara Ekerdt, a senior in the School of International Service, said she is doubtful that the security cameras will cut down on crime in the library.

“Thefts are most likely not going to occur in high-traffic areas like the library entrance,” Ekerdt said. “It really depends on where they install the cameras.”

Despite the increased security of the cameras, students should continue to be mindful of their belongings while in the library, Mayer said.

“We’d like to encourage community members to also take personal responsibility for their safety — please do not leave your valuables, including laptops, backpacks, handbags, etc., unattended, and be sure to contact Public Safety if you observe any suspicious activity,” Mayer said.

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