What is the state of Collection Security in your library?

The Consortium of European Research Libraries (CERL) is working to help its member libraries and other organisations that curate cultural heritage collections to answer precisely that question.

As a membership organisation, CERL aims to facilitate, enhance, and improve the use and impact of printed and manuscript cultural heritage material. CERL raises the awareness of cultural heritage collections and their content among scholars and interested parties worldwide. CERL is service and partnership oriented by offering its members and the library, archival, and scholarly world at large high quality digital resources and tools using modern technology, by arranging seminars and workshops, and by providing cooperation within its membership and with other library and cultural heritage organisations. As one of a number of Working Groups that are active in CERL, the CERL Security Working Group, led by Mme Jacqueline Lambert (Royal Library, Brussels), exists to help libraries and archives to enhance the security of their culturally important heritage collections.



CERL is very happy to collaborate with IFLA’s Rare Books and Special Collections Section in the

Expert group against Theft, Trafficking and Tampering ( EGATT) which the International Council on Archives has recently set up, since sharing best-practices and expertise makes all of our organisations safer.

Quick Audit Tool

Collection Security requires the vigilance and engagement of all members of staff and requires buy-in and active support from management. Drawing up security plans and preparing for calamities is a complex task, as so many factors need to be taken into consideration. To assist heritage institutions in this process, the CERL Security Working Group has developed a Quick Audit Tool which covers all topics relevant to the prevention of theft and vandalism. With the aid of a questionnaire, you can take stock of

  1. your institutions’ commitment to the fight against fight and vandalism, as reflected in the governance structures and published policies,

  2. your collection management policies for monitoring and protecting you collections,

  3. the physical security of building, its perimeter, and your incident preparedness,

  4. the risks you run when collections items are transported, i.e. to and from remote storage, or en route to an exhibition. This section also addressed issues to bear in mind when items are in an exhibition, and finally the survey asks you to examine

  5. the unexpected and unusual, such as extensive building works, unplanned outages, or calamities.

The first time you use the tool, you identify areas where you policies and procedures could be firmed up. As subsequent implementations of new policies and procedures need to be regularly evaluated, we recommend an annual or bi-annual re-audit, as this will help you to keep security policies and procedures current.

As a next step, the Security Working group is in the process of putting together a portfolio of supporting tools, some related to standards (forms, procedures checklists, etc.) and others dedicated to sharing the community’s experiences (e.g. use of equipment, implementing technical solutions, etc.), so that you may reuse materials developed by other members in our community and benefit from their expertise. The Quick Audit Tool is freely available here, whether you are a CERL member or not, and we would love to hear you experiences in working with this tool.

Collection Security Summer School

To offer security officers from libraries and archives, special collections librarians and curators the opportunity to discuss security issues with their peers in an informal setting, the Security Working Group organises an annual Collection Security Summer School, each time in a different part of Europe. The programme is developed in order to provide colleagues who are in charge of drawing up security policies with a concrete response to the problems they encounter on a daily basis, bearing in mind the global context in which we are all operating. Our annual summer school aims to create a network of security officers and curators who continue to work together on best practice, who alert each other to potential areas of threat on the market, and who generally support each other in security matters (also through sharing policies, best practices and tools).

The Summer School consists of 3 types of activities

  • Presentations delivered by speakers from the CERL network (national and university libraries, archives) but also cultural governing bodies and associated bodies such as police departments for the protection Cultural Heritage and book trade

  • Visits to institutions that hold cultural heritage materials, where we focus on the themes addressed during the Summer School

  • Group discussions in order to share experiences, to determine and refine the concrete needs, to offer support and a space that gives the opportunity to reflect on the state of collection security in your institution.

After the Collection Security Summer Schools held in The Hague in 2017  and Rome in 2018, we are pleased to invite you to this third Summer School, which is hosted by the University Library of Tartu, Estonia. Participation is open to CERL members and non-members alike. To register, please send an e-mail to marian.lefferts@cerl.org if you wish to participate (deadline for registration is 1 August 2019). The registration fee (which covers lunches, tea/coffee and transportation to the Estonian National Museum) is € 65 for CERL members and € 85 for non-members.


Marian Lefferts, CERL – Consortium of European Research Libraries

Cite this blog post
IFLA Rare Books & Special Collections Section (2019, July 5). What is the state of Collection Security in your library? Rare & Special: News from the Rare Books and Special Collections Section of IFLA. Retrieved May 29, 2024, from https://doi.org/10.58079/pvl9

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