Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
McCabe just got a little more scholarly. Sixty wooden lockers, a common fixture in research libraries, were installed in the second floor, the third floor, and the basement of the library over the summer.
Alison Masterpasqua, Access and Lending Services Supervisor at McCabe, said that the library decided these lockers were needed “because we were having a couple of years of personal theft.” Previously, students who wanted to stash their stuff while heading off for a dinner break could only use shelves designated for personal belongings. But the open nature of such storage led to occasional thefts. Masterpasqua estimates that items such as credit cards and electronics were stolen about once or twice a month.
Last fall, however, five thefts occurred in McCabe over the span of a week. Unattended cell phones and laptops were taken while students took brief excursions to the bathrooms or outside.
This spree of thefts ignited a discussion of possible methods for protecting student belongings. Some options that were discussed included increasing Public Safety patrols, using key card entry, and having student workers monitor the upper floors. In a Gazette poll, only 26% of voters said they were in favor of installing lockers. (The most popular option, with 44% of votes, was “Students should just be more careful with their own property.”)
Now that they’re here, though, the lockers seem to be a popular choice. Even though classes began just a week ago, the lockers have already seen some significant use: within the first four days of classes, 23 people used lockers while studying in the library, according to Masterpasqua. “It’s convenient and puts all the fears away that you might lose your things,” said freshman Jong Hsien Lim as he unloaded his belongings from a locker.
Librarians do have some fears that this new privilege may be abused, however. “We hope people will be using them responsible,” Masterpasqua said. The possibility of students leaving food in the lockers is one source of worry. Also, Masterpasqua hopes that students take upon themselves the responsibility of completely cleaning out any mess in the lockers.
Twenty lockers in the basement are reserved for thesis students, but any student can use the lockers on the upper floors during the day. Keys are available at the circulation desk.