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Nanuet Library Discuss DVD Thefts, Computer Porn

The board also talked about the beginning of its budget process. Check back with Patch for an update on this later.

 

The Nanuet Library met Tuesday night to discuss several issues and during a public forum, two people brought up issues with computer use and DVD thefts.

A father brought to the board’s attention a recent incident in which his 16-year-old daughter noticed a library user looking at pornography on one of the library’s computers. 

“This is an unfortunate situation. Pornography is not allowed in libraries,” said Gretchen Bell, library director. “We have a long policy including a letter that is given to people and there’s a system of warnings."

"It’s a balance against the patron’s right to privacy versus the library’s policy,” said Ellen Kimmel, board member. “We take our policy from the New York Library Association, from Supreme Court rulings on freedom of speech in public libraries and it’s vetted by the library attorney." 

One member of the public noted that since the computers are paid for by the taxpayers, the library should consider options to address this, such as amending its policy, keystroke memory, or monitoring the computers remotely on another computer to watch what patrons are doing on their screens.

“We do review our policies on a regular basis and if there are any court decisions on internet policy, we’ll pass it on to our attorney and see if we need to do any updating or any other way of intervening,” said Kimmel.

Bell added that there are filters on the computers in the children’s room and there are no filters on the computers in the adult section because the filter will not only restrict porn, but other (non-pornographic) information people may want to access.

“There are no filters in any libraries in this system (RCLS),” she said. Bell couldn’t comment on the frequency of incidents like this and would have to ask the staff in the adult section.

DVD Thefts

One ongoing issue that the library has been talking about is the DVD thefts and possible ways to prevent it. Read more about it in this .

119 DVDs have been reported missing from December 2009 to March 2012. Unfortunately, DVD thefts and proper security measures are a common problem in many public libraries.

One member of the public brought up the fact that the numbers are not accurate and up to date because the numbers are only from two reports (one from Dec. 2009 and another from March 2012) and because the computer will purge/erase older missing-DVD records over time from the 'missing items list'.

"We belong to a cooperative library system," said Bell. "Our circulation system and catalogue are all shared by 47 libraries and come from the library system. There are rules that we all abide by. The catalogue gets purged every so often. We do it annually."

“There’s a cost and a value," said Joseph Modafferi, the library's accountant. He added that since there's always a fluctuating number of DVDs checked in or out, the only accurate way to have up-to-date records of missing items is to do a consistent physical inventory of the library's 5,500 DVD collection.

However, this is not cost-effective when comparing the amount of personnel hours and pay against the cost of lost DVDs. The cost of lost DVDs in January is $240.98.

, the board discussed several security options including putting a security strip into each item. However, the board needed to weigh the cost of lost items against the cost of installing such a security system.

Bell came to last night's meeting prepared with numbers and estimates of installing security strips. 

“It would certainly be better if we had a security system, but we never installed one,” said Bell, adding, however, that the cost is very high.

The security strip option is estimated at about $38,000 to get started and $2,000 every year based on the amount of new material the library adds each year to its collection.

“Based on the numbers, it doesn’t seem like we have the economy to put in this system,” said Board President Paul Corriel. “It’ll be an ongoing expense once you’ve got it in. Also, the time, the man hours spent doing this, when they could be doing something different.”

The board talked about other possible options such as staffing someone to monitor the section. Again, the board needed to consider the staffing costs.

The board also took into consideration the possibility of changing technology, such as patrons switching to Netflix and away from traditional library DVD rentals, which would mean the investment in a security system would not pay off.

“The staff is doing everything they can,” said Bell.

In attempts to start  addressing this issue, the library began moving as many DVDs as possible into a storage room behind the circulation desk. Staff also began switching DVDs into thinner cases that would take up less space last month.

There has been little to no impact on the staff from the extra DVDs being stored in the back because “there has always been music CDs and games back there,” said Bell.

Bell, along with other library directors, is attending a meeting with the Clarkstown Police department to discuss effective security measures at libraries.

Hey Now Howard Johnson March 28, 2012 at 08:08 PM
Sounds like a security guard is needed...
Hey Now Howard Johnson March 28, 2012 at 08:09 PM
Must be cheaper than a security system.??.what's the problem?
James Roth March 29, 2012 at 04:59 PM
This woman, Ms. Bell seems to need a reality check or maybe she should step down. Obviously our tax dollars don' t mean a thing to her.

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