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1.1 Background to the Study          

            Libraries are institutions set up to cater for the educational, cultural, research, recreational and information needs of their users. Libraries have the main objectives of being entrusted with the selection, acquisition, organisation, storage and dissemination of information to their patrons. In medicine, prevention is better than cure, and also in libraries good preventive measures particularly of storage, security and crime should be on alert so as to prevent damage and missing of books. The art of prevention is as old as human civilization. Since the innovation of writing, mankind has been faced with the problem of prevention.  Documents have been existed in one form or the other and it is natural for man to attempt to secure, manage and prevent them from deterioration (Edoka, 2000).

Libraries have been seen as one of the pillars of civilization no nation can function effectively without the use of library. The word “library” is derived from a Latin word “liber” which means a book. This is a good reason to believe that the root concept of library is deeply embedded in our ways of thinking about the world and coping with its constraints. In its primary role as guardian of the social memory, there are many parallels with the ways in which the human memory orders, stores and retrieves the information necessary for survival. Alokun (2003) affirm that “libraries are essentially established to cater for the information needs of different categories of users which covers different aspects of life, such as political, economical, social and cultural aspects”.

Udensi and Sadiku (2005) defined academic libraries as “library attached to institution of higher learning or tertiary institution such as universities, colleges of education, polytechnics and colleges of technologies”. An academic library, being a complex institution must have large quantities of materials to meet the demands of the numerous students, lecturers and faculty officers; therefore there is need to protect the materials in the library form factors such as theft, mutilation, deterioration. The threat to intellectual property through theft, mutilation and other form of abuse has been posed tremendous challenge to the library profession worldwide. According to Aziagba (2008), incidents of theft, non-return of materials and mutilation of library stock are on the increase. These unwanted acts need a serious tackle in academic libraries.

Libraries in the universities and other tertiary institutions play an important role to students, lecturers and researchers within the institution. It enables its users gain access to a  wide range of information resources which help to facilitate learning, teaching and research.  Benson Idahosa University library and Ambrose Alli University library were also establish to meet the needs of users within the university. However, one major challenge of above libraries have been faced with is security problems, that is, how to secure their valuable resources collected over time and prevention of resources from mutilation and theft within the library. It was observe by the researcher that the state of these library resources are getting worse by the day; as theft and mutilation is on the increase by the day. Although measures have been put in place to handle these problems, but there seems to be problems as librarians in Ambrose Alli University and Benson Idahosa University often don’t carry out proper check on users if they took materials/books that are not borrowed from the library.

According to Anunobi and Okoye (2008) who opined that academic libraries are faced with challenge of security management for prevention of theft of print and non-print resources in the academic libraries.  There is need for academic libraries to ensure accessibility and effective use to make an effective program of collection security necessary. This programme must include assessment of collection security management for prevention of incessant book thefts are the measures use in curbing security infringement. Material theft is identified as the most common crime in libraries, one which has been on the increase for many years. Theft and conscious damage of books are difficult to combat because the risk of getting caught is very low, while the likelihood of success is high. Criminal activities in academic libraries are not limited to library information materials alone but theft of properties such as handbags, purses, calculators and notebooks are equally common. The extent, nature and rate at which these crimes occur vary from one academic library to another.

The crimes, which are committed by some users of the academic libraries, have deprived many others from fully achieving their information needs. Vandalism, mutilation, defacement, theft, arson, etc. are problem regularly encountered by the users of these libraries. Libraries adopt various types of charging system, such as Brown charging system, etc. some libraries have computerised their charging system to make their operations faster. Whichever system a library adopts, it is one of the means of detecting stolen books since dues dates are always in the data due ship of each book borrowed. Although most academic libraries have library committees which assist in regulating the activities of the library, only very little is done on security and crime prevention in libraries.

The goals of the security system in the libraries is to provide a safe and secure capability for library employees, library resources and equipment and library patrons. At the same time, the security system must perform these functions as seamlessly as possible, without interfering with the library’s objective of easily and simply providing patron services. This study explores security management for prevention of book thefts in academic library and measure used As information professional, we have a responsibility  to mankind; to explore the possibilities of findings method of securing, managing and preventing library and information materials and to ensure their continued availability for as long as possible, remembering that prevention is better than cure.

1.2       Statement of the Problems

Over the years, many factors have been militating against security management in library settings, these range from environmental factors such as temperature, relative humidity, dust and light to natural disaster such as flood, fire, earthquake and tornado. Equal important are the acts of user delinquency such as theft, mutilation and bad attitudes towards library collections. In Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma and Benson Idahosa University Benin City libraries, the management put in place some security measures to safeguard the security of the library collections. The researcher observed that the measures seem to be inadequate, leaving a yearning gap in meeting the security requirements of the libraries. Literatures have also shown that academic librarians and other library staffs who are supposed to implement the laid down rules and regulations as a medium of reducing crime often contribute to the problems of insecurity in the library.

A critical look at Ambrose Alli University Ekpoma and Benson Idahosa University library Benin City, most libraries of institutions of higher learning in Nigeria have similar problems of security challenges. It is therefore essential to try to understand what libraries have done and are doing to ensure the safety of their collection by evaluating the current conditions under which they are housed and used. It is on this premise that this study investigated the security risk management in selected academic libraries in Edo State, Nigeria.

1.3       Objectives of the Study

The main objective is to examine a study of security challenges and crime prevention in university libraries in Edo State. Specifically the study is designed to:

  1. Ascertain the extent to which security and crime have affected materials in academic libraries in Edo state.
  2. Identify information materials that are vulnerable to security and crime in Academic libraries in Edo State
  3. Determine factors that are responsible for security and crime in Academic libraries in Edo State
  4. Identify the effects of security and crime on library processes in Academic libraries in Edo State
  5. Determine the strategies for combating security and crime in Academic libraries in Edo State

1.4       Research Questions

            This study sought answers to the following questions.

  1. To what extent has security and crime affected materials in Academic libraries in Edo State?
  2. What are the information materials that are vulnerable to security and crime in Academic libraries in Edo State?
  3. What are the main factors that are responsible for security and crime in Academic libraries in Edo State?
  4. What are the effects of security and crime on information materials in Academic libraries in Edo State?
  5. What are the strategies that could be used to address security and crime in Academic libraries in Edo State?

1.5       Scope of Study

            This research is based on a study of security challenges and crime prevention in university libraries in Edo State in Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma and Benson Idahosa library University, Benin City.

1.6       Significance of Study

            The significance of this study is based on the need to improve the security management for prevention of book theft of the Academic library, especially as it relates to the research as well as to re-examine the roles of the university library so as to achieve the stated objectives. Hence, the study becomes valuable as its findings if used will help to rendering solutions to the problems of security and crime management  for prevention of incessant book thefts, University libraries are not always safe and secure places and they are facing a wide variety of security concerns which includes the theft and mutilation of library materials. The results of a number of library studies reported that most libraries in Edo State are having problem with security management for prevention of library information resources.

1.7       Conceptual Definition of Terms

Comparative: Observation of the similarities or dissimilarities between two or more branches of science or subjects of study.

Security: protection of a person, building, organization, or country against threats such as crime or attacks by foreign countries.

Crime: A crime is an act committed to omitted, in violation of a public law, either forbidding or commanding it, a breach or violation of some public right or duty due to a whole community, considered as a community.

Prevention: The act of stopping something from happening or of stopping someone from doing something.

Challenges: (The situation of being faced with) something that needs great metal or physical effort in order to be done successfully and therefore tests a person’s ability.

Academic library: An academic library is a library that is attached to a higher education institution which serves two complementary purposes to support the school’s curriculum, and to support the research of the university faculty and students.


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