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Security Working Group

The CERL Security Working group exists to help member libraries enhance the security of their culturally important heritage collections.

Programme of summer schools

The Security Network organises summer schools on Security issues. Curators and security officers from libraries and archives are invited to spend a few days at a course where we aim to share knowledge on topics like collection security, reading the behaviour of your readers, legal aspects, national and international collaboration, what to do after a theft, embedding security in the wider organisation, and digital security.

The summer school is always organised in a different part of Europe. The first summer school, in 2017, was held at the Koninklijke Bibliotheek, the National Library of the Netherlands, the 2018 and 2019 summerschools in Rome and Tartu, respectively. The 2020 edition will be hosted by the ÖNB in Vienna. If you wish to host the summer school, please contact Marian Lefferts.

Hosts of each summer school address the issues above, but will tailor the programme to the situation in their own region, and will select the most suitable speakers to address the topics on the programme. The hope is that the summer schools will create a network of security officers and curators who work together on best practices, who alert each other to potential thieves or stolen books on the market, and who generally support each other in security matters.


  • To coordinate information about on-going security issues of relevance for collections within the scope of CERL, through the CERL Security Network and through other appropriate channels
  • To monitor and disseminate information on emerging methods and technologies in library crime prevention and detection
  • To identify emerging areas of vulnerability or concern
  • To coordinate access to important documents on legislation, policy and practice relating to collection security
  • To provide guidance on building robust collection security policy and practice relating to threats to collections
  • To organise events for information exchange, as well as skills development
  • To serve as an interface with security networks in related sectors

The CERL Working Group on security focuses on threats posed to collections by criminal activity, such as theft, willful destruction, or by the adulteration of collection. Other physical threats to collections, such as fire, earthquakes, terrorism or flooding are only within the group’s remit in so far as they have an impact on the collections’ vulnerability to criminal depredation.

Membership of the Working Group is restricted to CERL members, on nomination by the member library, but the Security Working Group conferences and workshops are normally open to all.

Members of the Working Group

Chairman: Jacqueline Lambert, Koninklijke Bibliotheek van België – Bibliothèque royale de Belgique, Brussels
Núria Altarriba , Biblioteca de Catalunya, Spain
Greger Bergvall, Kungliga Biblioteket, Sweden
László Boka, National Széchényi Library of Hungary, Budapest
Anne Pasquignon, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris
Andrea Cappa, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Roma (BNCR) and Flavia Bruni, Istituto Centrale per il Catalogo Unico delle biblioteche italiane e per le informazioni bibliografiche (ICCU)
Per Cullhed, Uppsala University Library, Uppsala
Adrian Edwards, British Library, London
Claudia Fabian and Wolfgang-Valentin Ikas , Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, München
Claus Friis and Anna Magdalena Lindskog Midtgaard, Det Kongelige Bibliotek, Copenhagen
Nina Korbu, National Library of Norway, Oslo
Eva Nylander, University Library, Lund - on behalf of the CERL Swedish group members
Brian O'Donnell, National Library of Ireland, Dublin
Wim Tromp and Foekje Boersma, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, The Hague

The confidential Security Network

Institutions may nominate one member of staff (typically the Head of Security or equivalent) to be included in the Security Network mailing list. This mailing list is a secure environment for the exchange of confidential information regarding incidents of criminal activity witnessed in subscribing institutions.

With the support of the LIBER Executive Board, the Royal Library, Copenhagen, set up the LIBER Security Network in December 2002. From January 2013 the Security Network is hosted by CERL.

CERL Quick Audit Tool

The Quick Audit Tool (QAT) (2nd edition - November 2019) aims to raise awareness of a speedy way for any library/archive to see how their collection security policies and procedures compare against a baseline set by CERL institutions, both big and small, represented in the Security Working Group. Furthermore it provides guidelines and useful tips.

Two formats are available: to be printed as a booklet or to be consulted on screen. This Excel sheet helps you to record your responses to the questions.

Under Development

Two supporting tools related to the QAT (see pp. 6-7 of the QAT) are under development. For this we will need the help of all the Network. We would like you to send us a maximum of examples (forms, check-lists, procedures, etc.) and experiences related to important points of attention that security policies require to ensure the fight against theft and vandalism (more details in the booklet). Please send to jacqueline.lambert@kbr.be.


British Library, London
Our Written Heritage in Peril, a conference organised by the British Library and the Institute of Art and Law took place on 26 June 2015. It had a special focus on legal aspects of the return of stolen books across borders. While not organised by CERL, the conference heard papers from five CERL member institutions and a future role for CERL in connection with ILAB’s database of stolen books was discussed. The papers and the discussion can be heard in the four podcasts listed below.

https://soundcloud.com/the-british-library/podcast-written-heritage-of-mankind-in-peril-part-1 https://soundcloud.com/the-british-library/podcast-written-heritage-of-mankind-in-peril-part-2 https://soundcloud.com/the-british-library/podcast-written-heritage-of-mankind-in-peril-3 https://soundcloud.com/the-british-library/podcast-written-heritage-of-mankind-in-peril-part-4

Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Rome
The title of the first conference of the CERL Security Network was Library Security: Practices and Strategies and took place on 8 May 2015, at the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Rome. The programme was divided into four sessions covering Accountability and Governance, Staff interaction with collections, Digital tools for prevention and detection, and The process of recovery. How do we interact with the investigating and legal authority? The full programme is available here.

PowerPoint presentations:
Per Culhed, Uppsala Universitetsbiblioteket, A simple but efficient technique for audits of book collections.
Kristian Jensen, British Library, London, Collection Security Governance in the British Library.

Koninklijke Bibliotheek, The Hague
The 4th LIBER Collection Security Conference took place on Friday 23 November 2012. The programme and powerpoint presentations are available here.

British Library, London
Papers and presentations held at the 3rd LIBER Collection Security Conference (2008) are available on the BL website. Perhaps more interestingly here is a link to a Report on International Roundtable Meeting on Collection Security held at the British Library written by Andy Stephens and Helen Shenton, published in Liber Quarterly Volume 18 Issue 2 2008. Finally, all articles from this special issue of LIBER Quarterly are available here.

Relevant websites


Artificial DNA marking

In 2015, ARIS sponsored the “Global Centre of Innovation for the i2M Standards” at the University of NY in Albany to develop standards and a product for object marking with artificial DNA and a high security data management system. This specific model of implementation is not directly relevant for libraries as it relies on placing physical carriers of DNA on each item, and as it aims to track the movement of objects through the trade, which requires a complex centrally administered database. However it shows that the technology is moving towards implementation. Two links with further information:

Recording distinguishing features of a collection

Security guidelines and recommendations

Making missing or stolen books known

News about thefts

The Copenhagen Principles

A conference on Library security management was held under the auspices of LIBER in the Royal Library, Copenhagen, in May 2002, which formulated and endorsed The Copenhagen Principles (14 May 2002 / see below).


Principle 1

The representatives of the national and research libraries present (hereafter called the representatives) agree to establish a new security network for trans-national co-operation between libraries in order to prevent and combat criminal offences against significant library collections.

Principle 2

The representatives accept that each national or research library is responsible for setting up its own security policies and security systems, but they endorse their commitment to co-operation as part of a wider security network.

Principle 3

The representatives agree to inform and assist one another in a secure network when a library is subject to potential or actual criminal attacks against its collections.

Principle 4

The representatives agree to commit themselves to defining and developing a common ethical code of practice on security information handled and exchanged among libraries.

Principle 5

The network will co-operate with the police at an international level.

Principle 6

The representatives agree to nominate a designated member of staff as the library contact for the network.

Principle 7

The designated staff (security managers) will share experiences on security issues and best practice with one another.

Principle 8

Information about security issues is confidential to the security network.

Principle 9

The representatives encourage LIBER to establish co-operation on security issues with the book trade and with other memory institutions.

Unanimously endorsed by the delegates at the LIBER Conference on Library Security Management, Copenhagen, 12-14 May 2002. Copenhagen, 14 May 2002

Erland Kolding Nielsen

Esko Häkli

Ann Matheson

Conference Chairmen


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 collaboration/security.txt · Last modified: 2020/01/17 15:02 by lefferts



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