Course:4: Housing Your Collections
Lesson:Lesson 2: Security Planning
Topic:Implementing Security Precautions


Implementing Security Precautions

Draft Some Regulations!

If you donít already have them, you should draft security regulations for your historical records program. Many programs choose to use two sets of regulations--one for staff and another for users. However you do it, security concerns should be built into all your policies and procedures. 

Staff related security regulations should include:

  • A statement about the importance of ensuring the security of the collections
  • A statement of an appointed staff person who is in charge of security
  • Rules for staff access to storage areas
  • Rules governing key distribution
  • Rules for staff requesting and using collections for their own research
  •  Information about existing security systems
  • Procedures that detail what staff should do if there is a suspected or real security issue 

Post Your Policy

Patron security regulations should include the precautions we discussed above in the precautions list. Patrons should be made overtly aware of your security policy. Give them a copy of it; post it in an obvious place; and, most importantly, donít allow exceptions to the policy. 

Require Users To Sign In

No matter how small or understaffed your program may be, you must require your users to sign in and you must keep a record of the materials they use. Provide an area for users to work in that is visible to staff (paid or volunteer) and where it is difficult for them to leave the room or building unobserved.  

Check Users' Belongings

If supervision of researchers isnít always possible, it is VITAL that collections are checked after being used. Some programs ask users to have their belongings checked when they exit the building. Certainly this can be awkward, but most users will be cooperative if the reasons for the precautions are clearly explained to them. Do not search anyoneís belongings without their consent; and, if you choose this method, obtain some legal counsel before deciding upon how to implement it.


Security Policy
Make patrons overtly aware of your security policy. 

"Check Your Belongings" sign
Require patrons to check their belongings.

Caution sign

Before implementing this kind of procedure, be sure to check with legal counsel regarding compliance with privacy, search, and seizure laws.