As a student new to the VCU campus, I am concerned about the lack of
security at the Cabell Library. Often the guards assigned seem not to be
paying any attention to who comes into the library and, as a result,
there are often a number of people who clearly have no connection
whatsoever with the university, but are simply using the building as a
place to hang out. Homelessness is a big problem and one the university
cannot solve, but I think it is a mistake to permit many unauthorized
people to use the library for non-library purposes. Can you tell me: is
the rule that anyone who enters the library needs a university ID? If
not, can anyone enter the library? If so, why do we have security guards
at all? Thanks for your attention. This is a potentially important
issue, I believe.
Assistant University Librarian for Policy Development Walter sampson replies..
Thank you for telling us about your concern to security in VCU Libraries. In preparing our response to you, we realized the Libraries’ hours requiring University ID to access library buildings had been inadvertently omitted on its website “hours” section . I have requested the appropriate staff to add this information @ http://www.library.vcu.edu/jbc/hours/.
You will see below that only members of the “University community” with proper University ID are admitted to the library buildings hours between the hours 10:00 pm to 2:00 am. At other times when the libraries are open, members of the general public may enter the building to use the collections and services of VCU Libraries.
Security is important to VCU Libraries. Security Officers’ duties and responsibilities are written jointly by VCU Libraries and VCU Police Security Division. Security coverage at Cabell Library is Sunday through Saturday. Two security personnel cover each shift. Sunday to Thursday shift runs from 4:00 pm to 2:30 am; Friday & Saturday security staff are on duty from 4:00 pm to 9:30 pm. When the Library is open 24 hours at the end of the semester 2-3 security officers are on duty 4:00 pm to 7:00 am. Security personnel are supervised by VCU Police under police performance guidelines. General performance issues can be address by library managers in Circulation Services. Major performance issues are reported in writing to the Security Commander.
The incidents you mentioned clearly are covered under the post description and should have been addressed by the security officer on duty. You said “…guards assigned seem not to be paying any attention to who comes in the library.” Under COMPLIANCE PROCEDURES “The security officer will be alert to members of the general public whose activity in the building appears to be suspicious or with criminal intent.” You also stated “…a number of people who clearly have no connection whatsoever with the university …simply using the building as a place to hang out.” Again, one of the officers’ duties does “not to permit individuals to loiter at the security station area.” To your concern about library users, please see the Libraries’ regulation, Use of Libraries Building. This regulation shows that faculty, staff, & students have first priority to access and use library property, resources, and services. The security officer under his/her discretion will notify persons entering or already in the building, especially if someone becomes disruptive about University & Library policies and procedures. The Libraries direct users in Cabell Library to present their University ID to access the building between the hours 10:00 pm to 2:00 am. Patrons without VCU ID card are not granted access to the Building. Users already in the Library before 10:00 pm without VCU ID may stay in the Library. However, if they leave they are not permitted to return to the building without VCU ID. The security staff are responsible for enforcing this policy.
Security personnel are asked to use tact, diplomacy, and good judgment in carrying out their duties. They are also instructed not to confront or apprehend anyone who might be trespassing or engaged criminal activity. In these cases they will notify VCU Police Dispatcher of the event, location and description of the activity.
I hope this explanation provides enough information about security in VCU Libraries. If you need additional information, clarification, or wish to submit suggestions for improving security operations, please contact me at 828-1116, or stop by my office in Cabell Library, room 201.
Assistant Librarian for Policy Development