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The Daily Tar Heel

Libraries Up Safety For Exams

As the countdown to final exams begins, UNC students will be in search of the perfect study place for cramming and completing the semester's last assignments.

Officials at Davis Library and the Department of Public Safety hope to accommodate students' needs by creating a safer studying environment at the University's main library during final exams.

Because the Undergraduate Library closed in December for renovations, there undoubtedly will be an increase in the number of students studying for finals in Davis. Safety at the library has been a topic of concern this year, especially after last semester's reports of theft and lewd conduct in the study carrels.

Pat Mullin, associate university librarian for access services and systems, said those reports served as an impetus for hiring full-time security guards to patrol the library. Currently, one guard patrols during the day and two guards monitor at night until 8 a.m.

Mullin said the library's security guards work with officers from DPS, who can be contacted by the security guards at any time. "The patrols have been described as the eyes and ears of the police," he said.

Mullin said there has not been as much criminal activity as there has been in the past. "The presence of security guards has probably helped," he said. Mullin also attributed the improvements to the newly installed video cameras at the front and back entrances of the library.

In another effort to improve safety, library administrators attended a seminar earlier this year that informed them about how to maintain security measures and reviewed the current safety procedures. Mullin also is in the process of installing phones on each level that will directly connect to the circulation desk. The phones, which will be functioning by the beginning of next year, will allow users to report any misconduct immediately to officials.

But Mullin said there is a cyclic dilemma that library officials constantly face. He said when students feel relatively safe, they leave things unattended. This causes the increase in theft and, consequently, tightened security measures.

Senior Camilla Robinson said she has never felt unsafe at Davis. But she acknowledged a need to be more cautious on the less crowded floors. "(Patrolling) is necessary with the increase in students coming from the Undergrad," she said.

And Robinson said the presence of the guards has not affected her studying.

But other students said the threats to their safety have been affected their study habits. Sophomore Megan O'Neill said she will be studying a lot at Davis during finals. "But I don't go by myself to the upper floors at night," O'Neill said. "I find someone to go with."

During exams, the level of patrolling will remain the same, but Mullin said the guards will be informed to take more notice of suspicious persons after midnight, when students must show their UNC ONE Cards to enter. Mullin also hopes to form a "community watch" mentality among users of the library.

"We can't have (guards) all over the building," Mullin said. "So we want anyone who notices anything to report it so we can resolve it immediately."

The University Editor can be reached at udesk@unc.edu.

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