October 20, 2014

U. Toronto To Tighten Library Security

The University of Toronto library system is beefing up security in the wake of recent alleged sexual assaults in the Robarts library. The measures include more powerful radios for security guards and some desk staff, so they don’t have to search for signal, and more CCTV camera, especially in the stacks.

One change that would be bigger and more visible to patrons is a proposal to limit access to the library, which is currently open to the public until 11 p.m. (after which ID must be shown). All other University of Toronto libraries are also open to the public.

“The Chief Librarian has asked staff to study the implications of limiting access to Robarts Library. Prior to implementing any changes the library would conduct consultations with students, faculty, and other community stakeholders,” Margaret Wall, Communications Librarian for the University of Toronto Libraries, told LJ. “The end of the semester would be a reasonable timeline,” for the decision, Wall said.

One potential snag is that the whole library can’t simply be walled off: the building hosts academic departments and the Toronto offices of Statistics Canada, as well as certain collections, which non-cardholders must be given access to.

“There would probably be long lines to get into the building, because you would have to check all of the IDs,” the university’s student newspaper The Varsity quoted chief librarian Larry Alford as saying. “On a heavy day, this building gets used by 18,000 people.” Since the library doesn’t currently require registration to access the public floors, there’s no way of knowing how many of those don’t have University identification. But some 3350 have registered for access to the collection floors.

In addition to the local community, U. of T. is consulting the library community as well. “We have checked with Ryerson, York, and are continuing our investigation. More discussions with other institutions similar to UofT will be conducted,” Wall said.

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Meredith Schwartz About Meredith Schwartz

Meredith Schwartz (mschwartz@mediasourceinc.com) is Senior Editor, News and Features of Library Journal.

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