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Security Systems

The effectiveness of your policies and procedures to control access to and manage the use of your historical records depends on systems that provide basic security for your facility, your collections, and your staff, volunteers, and researchers.

Develop systems appropriate for your repository based on factors including the size of your organization and its collections, the monetary value and historical importance of particular collections or items, how heavily your facility and records are used, and your available resources.

  • Opening and closing procedures. Establish and follow clear and consistent procedures for opening and closing the facility, the research area, and the stacks. For sample closing procedures, visit the Resource Center.
    Sample Closing Procedures
  • Control of keys, combinations to locks or safes, fobs, and other portable electronic tools that provide access. Eliminate sub-master keys, develop a written key policy, and audit existing keys. Where are they? Who has them? How do you get them back? By controlling your keys you reduce unauthorized access.
    Key Control Guidelines
  • Security Guards and Inspections. If your organization employs or contracts with an outside firm to provide security guards, be sure they are carefully screened during hiring and well trained in the your organization’s theft-prevention policies and procedures. Retain incident reports and documentation of inspection rounds and duties.
  • Electronic Access, Surveillance, and Alarm Systems.  Apply rigorous controls to electronic systems as you do with keys. Keep security codes, PINs, and passwords in password protected files. Encourage staff to change their passwords on a regular schedule and not to write them down. 
  • Exit Searches. Monitor all persons leaving the building and consider examining bags and parcels.
  • Security Services. If your budget permits, consider contracting with a security firm to provide the basic services, which may include an alarm system linked to a dispatcher and law enforcement.
  • Retention of Security Records. Permanently retain access, surveillance, and alarm documentation, as well as paper-based entry/exit logs.