Strategies For Combating Book Theft And Vandalism In Academic Libraries

Project and Seminar Material for Library and Information Science

Strategies For Combating Book Theft And Vandalism In Academic Libraries


For the purpose of the study, it is assumed that library users exists in the academic libraries studies. These users cause damage to library materials.

The study covers the various means and devices to safeguard library materials from being vandalized by obnoxious and antisocial library users. In order to portray the relevance or importance of the research questions, the researcher made use of questionnaire method, oral interview and observation to get needed information. It was realized that mutilation of books and book theft are the most serious problems in the libraries while physical or personnel security is used in the two libraries rather than electronic security systems because the former is more economical.

The study finds that the two libraries under study have the same vandal problems and use almost the same measure or strategy to combat it but that not withstanding; there are some loopholes in the libraries.

Some suggestions and recommendations are therefore made to improve the security arrangements in these academic libraries.

Chapter One

1.0 Introduction

1.1 Background of Study

The current world economic recession dealt as a serious blow on developed and developing countries. These countries are apart from this economic gloom neck deep in other crisis.

Academic libraries in Nigeria are even facing greater problems. A typical examples is that of the Nigerian premier university, university of Ibadan library whose collection development has been adversely affected by foreign exchange restrictions (though it does not have total dependence on foreign sources of supply of library materials). Lean library vote which progressively and systematically decrease yearly; lateress or orders to arrive; affect of the government policies on library acquisition such as the pre-shipment inspection of import Act of 1978 (up dated import Act has changed this and books can now enter with ease into the country), astronomical rise in the cost of publications and the increasing number of library users without a concomitant increase in the library materials.
Despite the economic recession these academic institutes spend large sums of money stacking their libraries with expensive library materials for organized learning and research.

However, due to the country’s poor economy and the difficulties involved in obtaining foreign exchange, academic libraries in Imo state have difficulties in attaining the required standard of adequacy in their collections. It is recommended by the American library Association that an institutes recurrent budget of al least 5 percent should be spent on the library and more if the library collection is deficient or if there is rapid increase in students population or programme offered. The present government policy in Nigeria is not in accord with the American policy in terms of the percentage to be spent. There is still argument on the amount to be spent though there is a standard in the Nigerian academic libraries.

The attainment of standards of collection is made more difficult by foreign exchange restrictions which affect greatly book purchase by academic libraries. Hence the targeted collection size is becoming increasingly difficult to attain. In these libraries, the maintenance of effective security for the library resources that have been painstakingly acquired have not been easy.

This is due to mounting problems of book loss and mutilation resulting from the anti-social behaviours of some library users.

This problem of book theft is also felt by developing countries like Nigeria.

The real anguish of building up library collections in Nigerian universities is the fact that library materials appear to be finding their way into students lockers and book shelves. The disappearance of these hard earned expensive library materials frustrate the efforts of the readers in searching for what they want and also reduces the credibility of the library services and a consequent loss of confidence in the use of the library.

The acquisition of library resources is no less important than their preservation and protection. These libraries face the problem of mutilation of books, book theft, and misuse of library materials. In view of the inadequacy of resources in Nigerian libraries, there is need to conserve what the libraries have acquired by providing adequate security systems and measures.

1.2 Assumptions / Background of the Study

In this research it is assumed

  1. That there are delinquent users in academic libraries in institutions of higher learning including the two under study
  2. Actions of these delinquents tend to vandalize library materials.
  3. That is the duty of the academic libraries to find means of curbing vandalism which constitute a magnitude of book theft, book mutilation and destruction to library property such as window furniture etc.

1.3 Statement of Problem

Library materials are daily stolen or mutilated in the face of other anti-social activities, by delinquent users. Most of our academic libraries fall victims of this type of unfortunate incident.

The university of Lagos library was so irked by the alarming rate of book loss and damage that it had to resort to raiding students halls of residence in an attempt to recover library materials.

Similarly, the Kenneth Dike library of university of Ibadan once issued out circular letters to all the university departments, over the rate at which library materials steal into student’s possession illegally. In an article captioned “Library theft” college of education, Ibadan-Ode so worried at the rate of book theft in the institutions library that they had to set up a panel to investigate the matter.

The Nigerian civil war on its own part, dealt such a devastating blow on the library of the university of Nigeria, Nsukka that it is yet to fully gain it’s momentum from the holocaust.

Libraries could also be prone to disasters worst than theft. Do academics libraries in Imo state have any security arrangement to safe guard their materials? If Yes, how effective are the prevailing security arrangements in preventing stealing and mutilation or damage? This are the problems this project will investigate and attempt to profer solution or recommendations.

1.4 Aims / Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study is to establish means of fighting vandalism in academic libraries. It will bring out the problems of security in these academic libraries and the causes of such problems.

1.5 Research Question

The research study is to develop and enlighten the user of the academic libraries, and also to prove what they have been catered for them to get the materials for this research questions.
It will state-out how the materials are being summarized in this particular field. It occupied total summarization of the questions.

1.6 Scope / Limitation of the Study

This study covers two academic libraries in Imo state namely: Federal Polytechnic Nekede, Owerri and Federal University of Technology Owerri. Also, attention will be given to security gadgets that can help to minimize these problems. This is to say that it will be designed to prevent library materials from being mutilated or damage by unscrupulous and anti-social library users.

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations

5.1 Conclusion

One can therefore conclude that since the level of security and crime challenges in FUTO and NEKEDEPOLY libraries is not encouraging there is need for all hands to be on deck in order to eradicate these vices. This effort would help to strengthen the life span of the information resources in these libraries. The information resources would no longer be de-faced, mutilated, mis-shelved or completely stolen from the library. The eradication of these vices would in turn encourage students to effectively use their academic library in order to achieve their educational objectives.

5.2 Recommendation

  1. Written security policy should be placed on notice boards of FUTO and NEKEDEPOLY libraries for users’ benefits.
  2. Proper shelving and shelve- reading should be encouraged in FUTO and NEKEDEPOLY libraries to ease users’ information search and discourage stealing habit.
  3. Photocopying machines should be provided at affordable prices in and around FUTO and NEKEDEPOLY libraries.
  4. Users should be thoroughly searched before entering and leaving the premises of FUTO and NEKEDEPOLY libraries.
  5. Orientation of users and staff should be done regularly in the two academic libraries in order to impart user education into library users.
  6. Staff training on how to prevent the culprits from perpetuating the act within and outside the academic libraries.
  7. Electronic security system should be introduced in these libraries especially in C.O.E. library.

Based on the findings of this case study, it can be concluded that academic libraries in FUTO and NEKEDEPOLY have good methods for preserving and securing information resources for research and learning. However, they paid more emphasis on printed materials, with less use of digital preservation methods and electronic security systems. It was therefore obvious that the libraries were yet to embrace the opportunities offered by technological advancement for strategies for combating of their information resources. Suffice to say that the need to mitigate various threats using current technological innovations such as digitization, migration, and electronic security systems in order to stop any possible loss of materials can never be overemphasized. This will obviously enhance access by users to quality information resources for research and learning in the tertiary institutions of FUTO and NEKEDEPOLY.

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