Security Update – 18 November

We continue to engage in discussions regarding our security arrangements and procedures for Jefferson Hall as a result of the broader changes being implemented at West Point. Here are some updates from conversations that I’ve been involved with through this afternoon:

  • We expect that lanyards for staff will be arriving any day. All staff must wear their ID when moving around the facility and the post. Staff and cadets will need to challenge those not appropriately credentialed, and there will likely be checks verifying that we all are complying with this.
  • It is not yet determined whether or when cadets may be assigned guard duty for the library. That decision will ultimately be made by the Superintendent. Primary considerations are the impact on cadet time (as they are also being asked to provide guard duty at many other locations) and what risk level is acceptable for the library.
  • One consideration under review is whether or not to leave the east and west entrances to Jefferson Hall locked 24/7. In that case, access would be permitted via CAC authentication for authorized users. The doors could also be used for egress. Those changes hinge upon repairs that would allow the doors to reliably close and secure themselves (which does not currently occur). It is likely that we will move as soon as possible to all CAC-authentication on exterior doors and the elimination of physical keys for those doors.
  • We will very soon see new signs prominently placed around the perimeter of the Central Area security zone that will advise visitors of the restrictions in place. Unescorted visitors will no longer have access to Jefferson Hall or the surrounding area. This will be a big change as individuals like graduates, parents, etc. will now be excluded from Central Area and Jefferson Hall unless accompanied.

Regarding the right long-term security design for the library, we, along with the Dean’s office and Commandant’s office are moving toward identifying a solution that will be the “right” and permanent solution for Jefferson Hall. We do not want a patch job. As we all know, there are a number of security issues inherent in our architectural design, and we have few options in our toolbox at the moment for providing better facility security. We are fortunate that our second floor redesign project reviewed a number of these issues and possible options last year. In that review, the best option for building and collection security was Option 3 – which would relocate the Circulation Desk to the first floor. At the time, that was seen as an expensive and somewhat disruptive option and we opted to go with a plan that had a lighter impact on the facility. Given the guidance we are now receiving regarding security, it makes much more sense to now look much more seriously about implementing Option 3 as a permanent long-term fix for improved security for Jefferson Hall.

To that end, we will now be working through some much more detailed assessments and planning as we work up cost and impact estimates on what it would take to create a new Circulation service point in the rotunda (with all that that would entail with electric, data, heat, sound mitigation, etc.) Included in the thinking about this would be an effort to implement a completely new and totally secure interior perimeter for the library within Jefferson Hall that would be CAC-authenticated for access, would allow both elevators to roam freely, would significantly improve our capability for collection security, and would give us eyes on all traffic entering and exiting the upper floors of the facility.

This path can be designed to address all of our known security issues with properly designed solutions. That is a good thing. There are many, many unknowns as well, and many second, third, and fourth order effects. Our primary thinking for right now will be focusing on how to stand up a new service point and new security perimeter. Following from that we will have to have more thought about staff workspaces, our access policies, and many other things. This will also change our thinking for the design of the rest of the second floor, including reference services.

To be clear: there has been no final decision on a path forward, other than that our security posture must be improved, and should be designed to flexible and strong. It also should not rely long-term on cadets to provide guard duty. I want to be as transparent as possible about the process to determine how we accomplish that, and I will ask for collaboration from across the library as we consider what the right path forward will be. Sharing information is important to doing this as a team. As we progress, I will ask that we tamp down rumors that may arise. If you have a question, ask. We don’t know answers to everything, but we will continue to identify problems and solutions and I will commit to regularly sharing what I know.

I think this can be a very positive opportunity for the library to address some long-standing issues that have compromised physical security for our cadets, our employees, and our collections. I welcome your comments on how best we can make improvements and look forward to seeing what we develop as a plan together.