Theft and Vandalism in the Library

Theft and Vandalism in the Library

Posted on Monday December 14, 2009 at 02:29PM

Theft and vandalism in the library – by librarians!

You wouldn’t steal someone’s purse. You wouldn’t shoplift from a store. You definitely don’t come in to work with a can of spray paint and damage municipal property. And yet some of you unintentionally commit theft and vandalism in the workplace!
Before you go shaking your heads and thinking I’m talking about someone else, take a look at the software you have downloaded onto your computers, particularly your staff computers. Do you have LimeWire, Bittorrent, utorrent, etc? If so, you may be guilty of committing a designated offence. By downloading music though such sites, you are in fact stealing from the artist who created it: theft.
But there is a second problem created when you access these sites and download software off the internet. In doing so, you open the door for viruses to invade your computer. This results in a slowdown in functionality, obscene or embarrassing pop-ups, and even identity theft.  Your computer will then have to be cleared of the viruses before it can work properly. By allowing these viruses access, you are committing vandalism.
This is why Deep Freeze is installed on your public computers, so that the public cannot commit acts of theft and vandalism in the library. If you have “thawed” a computer to allow things such as LimeWire and other Peer to Peer software to be downloaded onto the public computers, you are aiding and abetting criminal activity. You are showing your patrons that it is ok to steal and that you encourage it. Is that really the message we want to be sending out to our communities?
You may think I’m blowing things out of proportion, but there are consequences. First, your service to the patrons could be considerably slower if you have pop-ups during check-out or a sluggish computer. Second, by continually having to go to a library to clean virus-ridden computers, NLLS staff has less time to work on enhancements to make services better. Third, you could be placing you patrons’ private information at risk, such as banking, and E. I. Insurance claims. Fourth, record companies are forming task forces to track theft. They have the money to do it too. They can trace illegal downloads by your IP address and hold you accountable. It all sounds like science fiction: “Big Brother is watching you,” but it is happening. And yes, they even go after the small fish. In June of this year, $1.92 million was awarded in damages for the illegal download of only 24 songs.* I don’t think any of our budgets can handle that. This also affects your other fellow libraries within the Northern Lights Library System, as we will be held responsible and our licensing on legitimate software revoked.
Check your computers. Make sure you don’t have LimeWire or Kazaa or any of the like on your hard drives. Please see this site for some other common peer to peer software Talk to your staff. Tell them not to download anything not library related to staff or public computers. You might be surprised at how much better your computers will run.

Author: Northern Lights Library System


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