K-School Library to Receive New Electric Security System

The Kennedy School of Government Library will install an electronic security system in July to decrease the number of stolen and inadvertently removed books, library officials said yesterday.

Head librarian Malcom Hamilton said the library is getting the new system now because the, library is still small--holding about 24,000--and installation will be easier.

The new system will involve putting metal sensitizing strips in every book and magazine and installing a detection device. When a person walks past a special gate with a book that has not been desensitized at the circulation desk, the gate will lock and an alarm will sound.

Hamilton said the last inventory of the library two years ago showed a book loss of less than one percent, which is "not an excessive amount." He said that this rate will probably be cut in half with the new system.

"We'd rather know where things are without chasing them around," Hamilton explained.

Installation of the system will cost less than $15,000, with an active maintenance fee of about 10 cents per sensitizing strip in each new book.

"The total cost of they system should be recovered in about one and a half years. Hamilton said, adding that "it costs the same to put the system in as door guards cost in one year."

Gutman Library at the Graduate School of Education installed an electronic security system two years ago because of a "loss of a lot of books," said Virginia Stein, head of circulation at Gutman.

The new system saved "several thousand dollars" that would have been spent replacing stolen books. Stein said, adding "the money was well spent."

Gutman's $15,000 system has had only a few false alarms, when metal objects such as keys, umbrellas and rivets from designer jeans trigger the system.

Healther E. Cole, librarian for Hilles and Lamont libraries, said installation of the electronic devices in the two libraries is not planned unless there is a "highly noticeable and irritating" book loss rate, which she said is "never perceived as a problem."