METHOD OF COMBATING BOOK THEFT AND VANDALISM IN ACADEMIC LIBRARIES: A CASE STUDY OF AHMADU BELLO UNIVERSITY, ZARIA
This study examine the book theft and vandalism in Ahmadu Bello University Library. The study uncovered not only methods of` eradicating theft and vandalism in the library understudy, but also the cause(s) of book theft and vandalism, how book theft and vandalism are committed, how book theft and vandalism affected the administration of the library understudy and ways or methods book theft and vandalism can be prevented from the library system. Some of the strategies identified include; increased public awareness and staff training on collection protection, provision of security personnel within and outside the library premises, provision of adequate photocopying services, provision of more access to information resources, periodical searching of students hostels, introduction of stop and search method, installation of security cameras and provision of electronic resources. The study recommends provisions of adequate photocopying services in the library, the use of electronic books in the library, placing plain clothed security staff in different location of the library, consistent provision of library materials with the national University commission; ration (10.1) that is 10 books per students and honouring the provision of national policy on education by the authorities of higher learning in Nigeria.
1.1 Background to the Study
Theft and vandalism of library materials is ill wind that blows no one any good. In the most recent times, the problem of theft and vandalism of library book has assumed an alarming dimension. In a study of security problem of university libraries, Nwamefor (1974) described theft and vandalism as anti –social acts which are universal and persistent in spite of orientation talks during freshmen week on care and treatment of books.
Library users seem to have devised various means of vandalizing and stealing of library materials. It does appear that library fraudsters are introducing more complex and sophisticated methods of stealing and vandalism books each time library authorities identified and put measures in place to check already existing methods. That libraries have lost most of its valuable reading materials to theft and vandalism is not on understatement. This practices is not limited to one library alone but cuts across the various types of libraries and this call for concern. To buttress this point Adebayo and Sakor (1999) in a related study quoted Zeidbsy (1987) who observed that: between 1979 and 1989 alone, America academic library reported theft and missing materials including book valued at $ 1.1 million in plates, engraving, books and manuscripts.
According to Ogunyade (2005), Theft and vandalism of books are certainly not new development of our time. Such acts can be traced as far back as 539BC in Egypt when the Persian conquerors removed rolls of papyri from the library of Rames 11 around 41BC. During the Middle Ages library books were chain –locked to prevent them from theft.
From the earliest time to the present, librarian are bothered on how to ensure the protection of library materials from theft and damage. As custodians of library materials and resources, librarians own an obligation to their patrons and users to preserve the library stocks.
Theft and vandalism of library books is a problem for libraries all over the world. It is costly and descriptive for both libraries and library patrons. Book theft is the intentional removal of books from the library in an unauthorized manner.
According to Ogunyade (2005) in many libraries where periodic or regular stock taking is carried out, it was discovered that many books were lost resulting from theft and vandalism are enormous. Typically, libraries lost between 5 and 10% of their collections annually to theft and vandalism.
The threat to intellectual property through theft and vandalism has posed tremendous challenges to the library profession worldwide. According to Jackson (1991), incidents of theft, non –return of materials and vandalization of library stock are on the increase.
According to Izundu (2006), theft and vandalization of library materials is an ill wind that blows no one any good. In the most recent times, the problem of library book theft and vandalism has assumed an alarming dimension. In a study of security problems of university libraries. Harry (2010) reveal that these antisocial activities are more pronounced for almost all third world countries. Ajegbomogun (2004) sees theft and vandalism as a common phenomenon in Nigerian universities and if not checked will create a serious threat to Nigerian library’s collection and preservations.
According to Akor (2013), libraries have been seen as one of the pillars of civilization. No nation can function effectively without the use of a library. The term library means a collection of educational materials organized for use. The word is derived from the Latin word Liber which mean a book. This is a good reason to believe that the root concept of library is deeply embedded in our ways of thinking about the world and coping with its constraints. In its primary role as guardian of the social memory, there are many parallels with the ways in which the human memory orders, stores and retrieved the information necessary for survival.
Alokun (2003) affirm that libraries are essential established to cater for the information needs of different categories of users which covers different economical, social and cultural aspects.
In order to achieve its purposes libraries have to put their best in securing, managing and preventing libraries collections from theft and vandalisation to meet the demand of its heterogeneous clientele.
Library users seem to have devised various means of mutilating and outright stealing of library materials. It does appear that library fraudsters are introducing more complex and sophisticated methods of theft and vandalism each time library authorities identified and put measures in place to check an already existing method.
Gojeh (1999), book vandalism loss reduces the efficiency of libraries in terms of materials resources. Library users become disappointed, frustrated and even losing confidence in the sorts of services provided in the library. He further observed that: vandalism of books, and book theft cost most libraries a considerable sum of money. Some mutilated books must be replaced while others that are badly and mired must be sent to the binding for major or minor surgeries
Akor (2013) stated that the crimes, which are committed by some users of the academic libraries, have deprived many others from fully achieving their information need. Vandalism, mutilation, defacement, theft etc are problems regularly encountered by the users of these libraries.
That problem of theft and vandalism of library materials has crept into Ahmadu Bello University Library system is no exaggeration but confirmed that the ascertain of the researcher that theft and vandalism are not limited to one library alone, but cut across board. But the question is what are the possible methods library fraudsters devise to vandalize and allegedly remove books from the library and what strategies can be put in place in order to combat the library fraudsters devise.
According to Billington (2014), to develop a strategy to address the array of concern associated with the preservation and safekeeping of cultural heritage assets, the library of congress has identified four (4) interrelated components:
- Physical security
- Bibliographic controls
- Inventory control
Traditionally, when we thought of security of our collection, we focused on physical security controls. In developing a comprehensive collections security program, there is need to integrate the other three components as well. But physical security remains key. We must ensure the security of our facilities so that our staff, visitors and library collections are safe.
According to Billington (2014), the integrated library system was successfully launched in 1999, to enhance the library bibliographic and item tracking controls. In the same year (1999), the preservation program preserved close to 500,000 items, working in a number of areas, including mass deacidification, conservation treatment, microfilming and binding. These measures will serve the mandates to preserve the library of congress collection for use.
For the purpose of the study, it is assumed that library users exists in the academic library understudy. These users cause damage to library materials. This study will cover the various means and devices to safeguard library materials from being vandalized by obnoxious and antisocial library users.