New Mexico library upgrades its book security system

Feb. 28--The Tucumcari Public Library has been closed for the past week for the installation of a $15,000 security upgrade to prevent book theft.

The staff of the library spent the week entering book codes into an electronic database and applying electronic tags to children's books.

"Most of the adult side books have the electronic tags," said Mary Ann Molinas, librarian. "We have needed to tag the children's books for sometime now."

The library is using the 3M security system, which includes electronic sensors at the front door that cost $10,000 and the electronic tags, which come 2,000 to a role at a cost of $700.

Seven rolls of tags were ordered and the staff had tagged over 10,000 books as of Thursday, Molinas said.

A general obligation bond is paying for 75 percent of the cost, with the remaining 25 percent coming from the library's general fund.

"We have 3,000 books left to tag on the children's side," Molinas said. "The additional tags will be placed in books on the adult side of the library."

The system uses an electronic tag to catalog and track the books status. Like a retail or convenience store that beeps if merchandise is not scanned, when a book is taken through the electronic sensors without being scanned at the front desk an alarm will sound.

"The alarm will help us to prevent book theft," said Dainetta Kroeker, assistant librarian. "Before the tags were installed on the adult books a year ago, about three books a month were stolen from the library."

Kroeker said that the tags in the children's books will be a great help when the summer reading program begins.

Molinas said that the process of cataloging and tagging the books has allowed the staff to kill several birds with one stone.

"We have not weeded out the books on the child's section since 1985," Molinas said. "We have several books that we are going to take off the shelf. Some will be donated to Team Builders and the Head Start program."

Molinas said that the books are normally culled based on their condition, lending frequency and relevance of content.

"We want to be able to keep the information that children read current and up-to-date," Molinas said.

The library will resume normal business hours and be open to the public on Monday.