A Comparative Study On Strategies For Combating Book Theft In Public Academic Libraries

Project and Seminar Material for Library and Information Science

A Comparative Study On Strategies For Combating Book Theft In Public Academic Libraries


Theft and Vandalism in Academic Libraries project research material is to reduce the stress of moving from one school library to another all in the name of searching for Strategies For Combating Book Theft And Vandalism In Academic Libraries research materials. We are not encouraging any form of plagiarism. This service is legal because, all institutions permit their students to read previous projects, books, articles or papers while developing their own works. According to Austin Kleon “All creative work builds on what came before”. The findings also showed that there were policies guiding the operations of the academic libraries in Niger State, but they do not have insurance covers. In respect of effectiveness of the methods in use, the findings showed that repairs, binding, environmental control, regular patrols, and identity cards verifications were effective in all the academic libraries, while computer virus protection / internet combating book theft was effective in four libraries and Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras in only Federal University of Technology Minna Library. It was concluded that although academic libraries in Niger State have adopted good methods for preserving and securing their information resources, and the fact that they paid more emphasis on printed materials, with less use of digital preservation methods and electronic combating book theft systems, it is obvious that the libraries are yet to embrace the opportunities offered by technological advancement for such activities. In view of the findings, the research recommended that libraries should endeavour to have written policies on all aspects of preservation of mutilation and combating book theft, upgrade and maintain facilities such as binderies, air conditioning systems, fire prevention equipment etc including the adoption of digital preservation methods, while efforts should be made to reduce the incidence and effects of mutilation, book theft and non-return of borrowed materials through periodic repairs, enhanced combating book theft and adequate punishment for erring users, respectively. This research also recommended improvement of the manual methods of safeguarding library materials and adoption of electronic combating book theft system, while the antivirus software and CCTV cameras should be regularly updated and upgraded respectively, in order for them to be effective.

Chapter One


1.1 Background to the Study

Libraries are institutions set up to cater for the educational, cultural, research, recreational and information needs of their users. Libraries have the main objectives of being entrusted with the selection, acquisition, organisation, storage and dissemination of information to their patrons. In medicine, prevention is better than cure, and also in libraries good preventive measures particularly of storage, book theft should be on alert so as to prevent damage and missing of books. The art of prevention is as old as human civilization. Since the innovation of writing, mankind has been faced with the problem of prevention. Documents have been existed in one form or the other and it is natural for man to attempt to secure, manage and prevent them from deterioration (Edoka, 2000).

Libraries have been seen as one of the pillars of civilization no nation can function effectively without the use of library. The word “library” is derived from a Latin word “liber” which means 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 retrieves the information necessary for survival. Alokun (2003) affirm that “libraries are essentially established to cater for the information needs of different categories of users which covers different aspects of life, such as political, economical, social and cultural aspects”.

Udensi and Sadiku (2005) defined academic libraries as “library attached to institution of higher learning or tertiary institution such as universities, colleges of education, polytechnics and colleges of technologies”. An academic library, being a complex institution must have large quantities of materials to meet the demands of the numerous students, lecturers and faculty officers; therefore there is need to protect the materials in the library form factors such as theft, mutilation, deterioration. The threat to intellectual property through theft, mutilation and other form of abuse has been posed tremendous challenge to the library profession worldwide. According to Aziagba (2008), incidents of theft, non-return of materials and mutilation of library stock are on the increase. These unwanted acts need a serious tackle in academic libraries.

Libraries in the universities and other tertiary institutions play an important role to students, lecturers and researchers within the institution. It enables its users gain access to a wide range of information resources which help to facilitate learning, teaching and research. Benson Idahosa University library and Ambrose Alli University library were also establish to meet the needs of users within the university. However, one major challenge of above libraries have been faced with is security problems, that is, how to secure their valuable resources collected over time and prevention of resources from mutilation and theft within the library. It was observe by the researcher that the state of these library resources are getting worse by the day; as theft and mutilation is on the increase by the day. Although measures have been put in place to handle these problems, but there seems to be problems as librarians in Ambrose Alli University and Benson Idahosa University often don’t carry out proper check on users if they took materials/books that are not borrowed from the library.

According to Anunobi and Okoye (2008) who opined that academic libraries are faced with challenge of security management for prevention of theft of print and non-print resources in the academic libraries. There is need for academic libraries to ensure accessibility and effective use to make an effective program of collection security necessary. This programme must include assessment of collection security management for prevention of incessant book thefts are the measures use in curbing security infringement. Material theft is identified as the most common crime in libraries, one which has been on the increase for many years. Theft and conscious damage of books are difficult to combat because the risk of getting caught is very low, while the likelihood of success is high. Criminal activities in academic libraries are not limited to library information materials alone but theft of properties such as handbags, purses, calculators and notebooks are equally common. The extent, nature and rate at which these crimes occur vary from one academic library to another.

The crimes, which are committed by some users of the academic libraries, have deprived many others from fully achieving their information needs. Vandalism, mutilation, defacement, theft, arson, etc. are problem regularly encountered by the users of these libraries. Libraries adopt various types of charging system, such as Brown charging system, etc. some libraries have computerised their charging system to make their operations faster. Whichever system a library adopts, it is one of the means of detecting stolen books since dues dates are always in the data due ship of each book borrowed. Although most academic libraries have library committees which assist in regulating the activities of the library, only very little is done on book theft prevention in libraries.

The goals of the security system in the libraries is to provide a safe and secure capability for library employees, library resources and equipment and library patrons. At the same time, the security system must perform these functions as seamlessly as possible, without interfering with the library’s objective of easily and simply providing patron services. This study explores security management for prevention of book thefts in academic library and measure used As information professional, we have a responsibility to mankind; to explore the possibilities of findings method of securing, managing and preventing library and information materials and to ensure their continued availability for as long as possible, remembering that prevention is better than cure.

1.2 Statement of the Problems

Over the years, many factors have been militating against security management in library settings, these range from environmental factors such as temperature, relative humidity, dust and light to natural disaster such as flood, fire, earthquake and tornado. Equal important are the acts of user delinquency such as theft, mutilation and bad attitudes towards library collections. In Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma and Benson Idahosa University Benin City libraries, the management put in place some security measures to safeguard the security of the library collections.

The researcher observed that the measures seem to be inadequate, leaving a yearning gap in meeting the security requirements of the libraries. Literatures have also shown that academic librarians and other library staffs who are supposed to implement the laid down rules and regulations as a medium of reducing crime often contribute to the problems of insecurity in the library.

A critical look at Ambrose Alli University Ekpomaand Benson Idahosa University library Benin City, most libraries of institutions of higher learning in Nigeria have similar problems of book theft. It is therefore essential to try to understand what libraries have done and are doing to ensure the safety of their collection by evaluating the current conditions under which they are housed and used. It is on this premise that this study investigated the security risk management in selected academic libraries in Edo State, Nigeria.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The main objective is to examine a study of book theft and strategies for prevention in university libraries in Edo State.

Specifically the study is designed to:

  1. Ascertain the extent to which book theft have affected materials in academic libraries in Edo state.
  2. Identify information materials that are vulnerable to book theft in Academic libraries in Edo State
  3. Determine factors that are responsible for book theft in Academic libraries in Edo State
  4. Identify the effects of book theft on library processes in Academic libraries in Edo State
  5. Determine the strategies for combating book theft in Academic libraries in Edo State

1.4 Research Questions

This study sought answers to the following questions.

  1. To what extent has book theft affected materials in Academic libraries in Edo State?
  2. What are the information materials that are vulnerable to book theft in Academic libraries in Edo State?
  3. What are the main factors that are responsible for book theft in Academic libraries in Edo State?
  4. What are the effects of book theft on information materials in Academic libraries in Edo State?
  5. What are the strategies that could be used to address book theft in Academic libraries in Edo State?

1.5 Scope of Study

This research is based on a study of book theft and strategies for prevention in university libraries in Edo State in Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma and Benson Idahosalibrary University, Benin City.

1.6 Significance of Study

The significance of this study is based on the need to improve the security management for prevention of book theft of the Academic library, especially as it relates to the research as well as to re-examine the roles of the university library so as to achieve the stated objectives. Hence, the study becomes valuable as its findings if used will help to rendering solutions to the problems of book theft management for prevention of incessant book thefts, University libraries are not always safe and secure places and they are facing a wide variety of security concerns which includes the theft and mutilation of library materials. The results of a number of library studies reported that most libraries in Edo State are having problem with security management for prevention of library information resources.

1.7 Conceptual Definition of Terms


Observation of the similarities or dissimilarities between two or more branches of science or subjects of study.


Protection of a person, building, organization, or country against threats such as crime or attacks by foreign countries.


A crime is an act committed to omitted, in violation of a public law, either forbidding or commanding it, a breach or violation of some public right or duty due to a whole community, considered as a community.


The act of stopping something from happening or of stopping someone from doing something.


(The situation of being faced with) something that needs great metal or physical effort in order to be done successfully and therefore tests a person’s ability.

Academic Library:

An academic library is a library that is attached to a higher education institution which serves two complementary purposes to support the school’s curriculum, and to support the research of the university faculty and students.

Chapter Five

Summary of Findings, Conclusion and Recommendations

5.1 Summary of Findings

Based on the research conducted, below is the summary of findings

  1. Inbook theft in academic library have resulted in low patronage by library users and drastic reduction of library materials to a very high extent.
  2. Text books, reference materials, serials materials, religious materials, graphical materialsetcare vulnerable to book theft in academic library.
  3. Drastic reduction in book votes, selfishness on the part of users and researchers, poor security, belief that public property belongs to nobody in particular as well as Absent-mindedness on the part of staff resulting in failure to properly check out books are major factors responsible inbook theft in academic libraries.
  4. Inbook theft in academic library affect the quality and quantity of books in the libraries, weakens and cast aspersions on the professional integrity of library staff, results to scarcity of books and other information materials in the library affect other library users.
  5. Prevention of students and other users from using library resources to their satisfaction since they can neither find these stolen books on the shelf as well as talking loudly, making noise or engaging in other disruptive conduct by library staffs affect other library users.
  6. Provision of CCTV cameras in the library, regular stock taking so as to know what is missing the library, regular checking of book pages on returned, provision of regular lighting system, porters checking users at the exit door will help in combating inbook theft in academic libraries.
  7. Provision of multiple copies of book, better library services should be provided, Allowing all library materials for borrowing, allowing users to photocopy materials needed by them in the library, Regular patrol by staff of the library are measures for combating book theft in academic libraries.
  8. Rustication of students offenders/suspension of staff offender, facing of disciplinary action are measures for combating book theft in academic libraries.

5.2 Conclusion

The spate of library crime in Nigerian academic libraries is alarming. It is on this premise that this research explores the causes, dimensions and effect of this endemic social problem within the ambit of sociology for easy and broad level understanding of the phenomenon. From the literature so far reviewed, it is apparent that library crime manifests in various forms and has differing causative factors. The study identified paucity of relevant and expensive materials as the cause of library crime. Other factors include: poverty, insecurity and complicity of library staff. Library crime comes in different forms, such as throwing stolen books down through the window; hiding them in the clothes, particularly inside the suit and flowing garments; conniving with the library staff; and altering library slip and identification materials in order to steal books. All these crimes have deleterious effects on individual students, library staff, academic community and society in its entirety. Specifically, book theft, pilfering and mutilation have negative implications on the academic performance and capabilities of students as they cannot access these material as and when due.

5.3 Recommendation

Based on the foregoing, the following recommendations, which are by no means exhaustive, are made:

  1. The government alongside the school authorities should furnish libraries with sufficient volumes of expensive, knowledge-enhancing and sought-after materials for students to access at all time.
  2. The wearing of free-flowing garments by both male and female patrons into the library should be discouraged.
  3. Conscientious efforts should be made to decongest the library any time its users are of uncontrollable and unmanageable size.
  4. Electronic security system like Close Circuit Television (CCTV) should be installed in academic libraries. CCTV is a specially designed crime detection gadget that monitors the activities and movements of people within its scope. This will enable easy prediction, prevention and control of library crimes.
  5. Users should be thoroughly searched before entering and leaving the premises.
  6. Orientation of users and staff should be done regularly in the two academic libraries in order to impart user education into library users.

5.4 Suggestions for further research

From the conclusion and recommendations made, the following suggestions were made to enhance further studies.

  1. The researcher feels that similar studies should be undertaken in other academic libraries in Nigerian universities.
  2. There is need for proper studies on the way and manners library staffs and users handle library resources.
  3. Librarians need to equip themselves with adequate knowledge on the ways and means through which library users carry out crime in libraries.

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