Saturday, May 7, 2011

Libraries vs. Local PD

Hello Klub Katalogers! I just stumbled upon some interesting library controversy brewing up here in the NW. King County Library System is uninstalling their security cameras in response to an incident that occurred a few months ago. Local police asked for surveillance footage from the parking lot to help solve a robbery. KCLS had the audacity to make them get a warrant before turning it over (!) and were subsequently villified for this. To prevent this from occurring again, KCLS has decided to remove the cameras (and save tens of thousands of dollars a year in maintentance). What do we think about this?! Drama, drama, drama.


  1. Good on the library for standing up for their policies! It worries me when police assume people will just give them what they need because they're the cops. The library was not unreasonable at all. And maybe if library funding was better, the cameras wouldn't be as much of a cost problem.

    The comments on that article are ridiculous.

  2. Good for them for a) sticking to their privacy-protecting guns and b) getting rid of the cameras!

    (And I'm curious, why did they think they needed them in the first place? Clearly it wasn't to help the police with stuff like this... was it for library-material-related thefts?)

  3. I am interested in Gwen's question as well - why have them in the first place? Was the library going to handle theft/vandalism issues on their own?

    One time someone mentioned that we were going to get cameras inside in our library and I didn't really know what to say.

  4. I am glad KCLS stood by their privacy policy, and I'm also curious as to why they had cameras in the first place. This reminds me of a trip to a local public library a couple of months ago. I went to a different branch than I normally go to, and was surprised to see a security guard at a post looking down at the circ desk. I was also asked to have my picture taken to go with my library card. I guess the library has had problems with people using other people's library cards and they want to make sure you are using your card. But, why the security guard? I was very caught off guard in having my photo taken, and for some reason the security guard did not make me feel safer in that library. I have not seen guards in any other branches I've been to either.

  5. A library I talked to was considering having cameras inside their libraries, but it was less for surveying the public and more for supervising staff at branch libraries.

    From a public safety perspective, I recently read the second book by the "Black Belt Librarian," and he posited that security cameras are a worthless use of money in libraries and that an astute and well-trained staff is more valuable than any type of technology.

    I'm always surprised that people get upset when libraries stand firm and require warrants and other legal documentation before we just start handing stuff over!