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Sewickley library board weighs cameras to answer thefts

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Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
 

Board members are considering installing security cameras at Sewickley Public Library in the wake of thefts.

“Right now, we're having a little debate on the idea of putting video cameras in the library,” board member Gianni Floro said.

“On the one hand, the library should be a place of academics with time and peace, and being able to do some reading and not look over your shoulder — and a camera's looking down over you.”

Part of the discussion is focused on privacy of patrons who use the library, said Floro, who added that the concern was theft of personal property.

“But in the same respect, over the past number of months and into the early spring and summer, there's been a number of thefts,” he said.

Library leaders who consider using security cameras should “develop and enforce strong policies protecting patron privacy and confidentiality appropriate to managing the equipment, including routine destruction of the tapes in the briefest amount of time possible, or as soon as permitted by law,” according to Chicago-based American Library Association's website.

The organization's Intellectual Freedom Committee developed a series of questions and answers for library staff — including information on protecting patron privacy — based on the group's Library Bill of Rights.

Except for a camera in an elevator of Northland Public Library in McCandless, Director Amy Steele said the facility has no security cameras inside. A camera is on the exterior of the building.

“(Adding cameras) has been considered in the past, but I can't say it's on the near radar at this point, Steele said.

“There hasn't been discussion.”

Library staffs wrestle with protecting patron privacy when considering cameras, she said.

“We hold that privacy issue with patrons near and dear to our hearts, and we do whatever we can to protect that,” Steele said.

Previous discussions occurred at Northland, she said.

But there is a level of personal safety that should be considered, she said.

“You never know, as far as today, what might happen,” Steele said.

Bobby Cherry is an associate editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 or rcherry@tribweb.com.

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