Library security upgrades could be finished by fall

IMG_2256Panthers and their possessions will be safer in the library by this upcoming Fall semester. Dean of Libraries Jeff Steely said the library will purchase additional security cameras to place on the upper library floors, and completion is expected by the end of the summer break.

Steely told The Signal in an email that the library is making good progress with the surveillance system. He also said the current system has been fully upgraded, but could not specify how many cameras at the moment.

“We have identified a vendor and are moving forward with a plan to purchase and install a significant number of additional cameras,” he said.

Steely also said the library is working with campus partners Georgia State University Police Department (GSUPD), facility management, technology services, and Auxiliary & Support Services to add additional cameras to install after spring semester.

“We are meeting with vendors, participating in product demonstrations, and getting quotes for technology options for the library entrances,” he said.

Steely maintains that installation may be a noisy process. He also said GSUPD will continue monitoring library entrances and patrols.

“Upgrading our entrances will likely be a rather involved, disruptive, and possibly noisy project,” he said. “Until the right long-term solution is in place, GSU Police are continuing to provide their assistance at the entrances and throughout the library buildings.”

Four armed robberies occurred in the Georgia State library in January, and following the third and fourth robberies, started upgrading the Closed-Circuit (CCTV) surveillance system. Maj. Anthony Coleman said GSUPD bought from their own budget, hidden cameras and installed in the library the day of the last robbery.

An Open Records Request made by The Signal found the ‘spy cams’ Coleman bought through the GSUPD budget cost over $1,400.

“The hidden cameras were a temporary measure until the surveillance system could be upgraded,” Coleman said.

Surveying to place surveillance

Coleman said the upgraded surveillance system would be finished in two weeks’ time during the Student Government Association (SGA) “Campus Carry” open forum on Mar 10, according to The Signal. Coleman also said floors three through five do not have surveillance cameras.

According to the policy, strategic placement of the surveillance system is needed in order to properly use the system because the cameras communicate through a “closed circuit”, or broadcast information that can only be seen through monitors and video recorders across the system.

Some students carry knives to protect themselves on campus. According to, pocket knives with blades over 3 inches on campuses are illegal so officers either take them and keep them until they exit the library, or make students take the weapon back to their cars.

“Either they check it at the library or an officer will make them put it in their car,” Coleman said.
“We just confiscate the knives and give ‘em back to them because a lot of people don’t know what the law is.”

Stephanie Ekey, sophomore at Georgia State, thinks the library should have cameras on the upper floors. She also said she thinks with the recent string of crime on or near campus, GSUPD should step up their game in protecting Georgia State students, faculty and staff

“Students pay a lot of money to come to Georgia State and use its facilities, and the fact that half of our library is pretty much unmonitored is disappointing,” Ekey said.

Acting GSUPD Carlton Chief Mullis said the cameras on the upper floors are on a “wish-list” budget, which includes installing cameras, pricing, and a one-time licensing fee of about $125 for each camera. He also said cameras inside the library would cost up to $2,000, and the exterior cameras up to $5,000.

“The cameras are near the library entrances, the stairwells and lower level exits,” Mullis said.
“The license is a one time fee for all cameras, and we have about fifty cameras [in the library].”

Mullis also said the upper floor cameras installation process involves installation of cables throughout the university infrastructure and IT rooms, along with paying licensing fees for each camera.

Mullis previously told The Signal the outer camera system upgrades would be finished by the end of February, but placing cameras on all library floors have yet to be determined.

Georgia State employs the use of CCTV, which includes video surveillance cameras, monitors, and digital video recorders to monitor public areas like the library, in order to assist GSUPD in deterring crime, according to the Georgia State Video Surveillance Policy.

Currently, GSUPD employs over 100 officers, recently increasing their plainclothes and uniformed patrols in response to the robberies, also instituting visual ID checks at library entrances until the biometric scanners are installed, according to The Signal.

What about those darn biometric scanners?

Incoming and current students will be able to register for the biometric system at the PantherCard Office, according to Director of Marketing Chris Connolly. The scanners will cost over $3,000 per library entry point.

Biometric scanners, which identify a student by a set of numbers linked to his or her unique fingerprint, are currently in use only in Georgia State dining halls, according to Public Relations Officer Andrea Jones.

Jerry Rackliffe, the school’s chief financial officer, said 55 Park Place renovations could be delayed by about 2 years to pay for increased security measures, including biometric scanners in the library, according to The Signal.

Ekey also said that biometric scanners are a “good idea” and that the money would be worth the safety.

“We want to feel safe on campus, especially somewhere so many of us go to work and study,” she said. “Even if it’s expensive to install initially, protecting students should be reason enough to put the scanners in.”