In 1963, after decades of increased thefts and security failures in libraries and archives nationwide, the American Library Association published a report on the protection of libraries and their resources. Though a long time coming, the highly anticipated report “failed to give much attention to the actual concerns regarding theft.” Librarians, archivists, and others in the field were left to fend for themselves.

Finally, in 1987, the Security Committee of the ACRL RBMS (Association of College and Research Libraries—Rare Book and Manuscripts Section) began collecting information on all reported thefts within libraries, archives, museums, and special collections. The report, which began as a single page, quickly grew over the next decade. The results of the Committee’s work helped bring much-needed attention to the issue of library and archival security.

This attention has resulted in the development of detailed security guidelines that have been openly supported by the Society of American Archivists. The ACRL/RBMS Guidelines Regarding Security and Theft in Special Collections, formally approved by SAA in 1993, and Gregor Trinkaus-Randall’s Protecting Your Collections: A Manual of Archival Security, published by SAA in 1995, provide recommendations and establish security standards for institutions to follow. They both call for detailed security plans, a greater awareness of vulnerabilities, and active engagement in stolen item recovery.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.