The consortium of European Research Libraries (CERL) is currently overseeing the Security Network. For more information please go to www.cerl.org/collaboration/security.
Following a spate of serious trans-border thefts from major European libraries, a Conference on Library Security Management was held under the auspices of LIBER in the Royal Library, Copenhagen, in May 2002, which formulated and endorsed The Copenhagen Principles (14 May 2002).
With the support of the LIBER Executive Board, the Royal Library, Copenhagen, set up the LIBER Security Network in December 2002.
The LIBER Security Network is now well established and provides a forum for advice to members on protection against theft and confidential reporting of both actual theft and suspicious activity. A further service being planned is the provision of advice to member institutions who have been the victims of theft on the public relations aspects of its aftermath – how to deal with enquiries from the press, government departments, etc.
Table of Contents
On 2 July 2002, the Executive Board of LIBER, in line with the Copenhagen Principles of 14 May 2002, endorsed the establishment of a Library Security Network to facilitate the exchange of confidential security information among European national, university and other important research libraries with valuable collections. LIBER asked The Royal Library in Copenhagen to establish and run the Network
The objective is to create a safe information and communication network, based on email, for European Library Directors and Security Managers.
Membership is open only to institutions that are members of LIBER and limited to authorised representatives of European research libraries, normally Library Directors and/or Security Managers authorised by their Directors. The number of participants should normally not exceed three per institution. A copy of the Application Form should be completed by each applicant from an institution. A common ethical code, or guidelines, for the handling and transmission of information will be defined and developed in line with Principle 4 of the Copenhagen Principles.
The number of participating institutions will be limited to a total of 200. Participation must be justified on the basis of the importance or value of an individual institution’s collections.
Only authorised users, namely those authorised representatives of participating institutions, will have access to the Network and the right to communicate through it to all members.
Information conveyed through the Network should primarily comprise
- Warnings of presumed crimes (thefts, mutilations etc.) committed or believed to have been committed;
- Reports on incidents of relevance or interest;
- Notices of losses from collections;
- Information on the development of security systems
When a Library wishes to apply to become a member of the Library Security Network, the Director of the Library must appoint a trusted member of staff with managerial responsibility within the Library's security organisation to act as the Library's liaison officer in the Network.
The person appointed must then complete the Application Form, giving the details listed below, and send the Application Form by email or by post to the Library Security Network administrator, Charlotte Rohde (firstname.lastname@example.org), The Royal Library, Copenhagen:
- Full name and title
- Name of institution
- Head of institution
- Name of immediate line manager
- Your job title in the institution
- Details of your responsibility for security in the institution
- Personal work e-mail
- Institution e-mail
- Website address
- Fax number
On receipt of these details, the Library Security Network administrator will contact the applicant’s head of institution in order to check and verify the information that has been provided. After successful verification, the applicant will be assigned an ID electronically by the Library Security Network administrator, along with a password and guidelines for the use of the Network.
The applicant will then be able to use the Library Security Network.
The Royal Library, Copenhagen, has undertaken to act as administrator (i.e. operator) of the Network. This involves:
- Setting up the Network
- Preparing an online application form for membership
- Checking that unauthorised persons do not access the Network, and issuing appropriate warnings should this be attempted
- Maintaining a current email address list of authorised members.
Recognizing these developments, we have decided to set up closer co-operation among libraries with the purpose of preventing or resolving such incidents.
From the evidence it is clear that individual libraries have dealt with these matters in a rather isolated way in the past, and that co-operation between libraries has been only sporadic. On the other hand all libraries tend to involve the police authorities at the point of theft. Bodies such as Interpol and Europol also have considerable expertise in counteracting thefts of cultural assets. But Europe has a wide range of different legal systems, and this can make theft investigation more intricate and therefore rather slow.
The international criminal world is not dependent on legal and administrative restrictions, but can exploit to the full the openness of the modern communication and information society. This creates the basis of a ‘crime internet’.
Interpol and national and international police authorities are, on the other hand, completely dependent on the evidence produced by the victim of the theft. Insufficient evidence weakens the case both for the police and the law. Libraries entrusted with collections of cultural value must give a high priority to their security policies and systems. They need to develop better communication and co-operation on security issues with police organisations such as Interpol and Europol and with national legal systems.
In the business world, if a company loses valuables through theft, it will normally have made arrangements in advance for compensation, either through insurance or replacement. For cultural institutions the situation is almost exactly the opposite. Libraries cannot insure their collections, because what they might lose is almost impossible to replace. One cannot insure against such things in a traditional way.
Libraries have to be open to the general public and make their collections available to the public. Librarians generally have an open mind and show a co-operative approach to users, both scholars and the general public. This very openness and co-operation can be exploited by criminals.
This is the kind of reality libraries have to face. They are no longer safe retreats. They are for better or worse an active part of society, with all that this entails.
Those of us who are entrusted with the task of preserving cultural assets must realise this fact and face up to it in order to forestall acts of criminality directed at our collections. Without surrendering our open approach, we should try to overcome the naivety with which it has from time to time been associated and act in a more professional way.
The evidence suggests that there are a number of weaknesses in the way we handle criminal attacks against our collections and in the organisation of our security arrangements. These must be addressed and eliminated if our libraries are to be in a stronger position against international criminality. Openness on the part of libraries is a crucial factor in this development. Institutional silence can only be to the benefit of the thief.
An Organisational Network for International Co-operation on Security Problems in National and Research Libraries
The representatives of the national and research libraries present (hereafter called the representatives) agree to establish a new security network for trans-national co-operation between libraries in order to prevent and combat criminal offences against significant library collections.
The representatives accept that each national or research library is responsible for setting up its own security policies and security systems, but they endorse their commitment to co-operation as part of a wider security network.
The representatives agree to inform and assist one another in a secure network when a library is subject to potential or actual criminal attacks against its collections.
The representatives agree to commit themselves to defining and developing a common ethical code of practice on security information handled and exchanged among libraries.
The network will co-operate with the police at an international level.
The representatives agree to nominate a designated member of staff as the library contact for the network.
The designated staff (security managers) will share experiences on security issues and best practice with one another.
Information about security issues is confidential to the security network.
The representatives encourage LIBER to establish co-operation on security issues with the book trade and with other memory institutions.
Unanimously endorsed by the delegates at the LIBER Conference on Library Security Management, Copenhagen, 12-14 May 2002.
Copenhagen, 14 May 2002
Erland Kolding Nielsen