McDermott Library ramps up security

Those entering the library must tap their Comet Card to open the security doors. Outside visitors must check in at the desk. Photo By Jason Sadhanandh | Photo Editor

UTD’s McDermott Library implemented a new card reading system on Aug. 28, requiring students and staff to scan their Comet Cards when entering and exiting to improve building security.

At the end of spring 2023, the library required those entering to show their Comet Cards between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. In fall 2023, a 24/7 card scanner with doors was added to match other schools in the UT system, like UT Arlington. Library officials also helped to address the reduced video quality of cameras at night and prevent issues with vandalism and theft.

“Last year we had over 100 books vandalized,” Dean of McDermott Library Ellen Safley said. “We also want to prevent theft … [and] this year has been an improvement from May with the card system.”

The system requires students to scan their Comet Card upon entering and exiting. Cognitive science sophomore Vidhi Pujara said there was a good reason to have added security.

“It definitely makes me feel better that active patrolling is occurring while I’m studying there to ensure that I am safe,” Pujara said. “It feels tedious having to constantly pull out my card, but I think everyone just has to get used to it.”

Before implementing security in August, the library ensured that the added doors between the turnstiles would not interfere with emergency response. Fire drills were run to ensure students could safely exit the building, and the entrance was tested to ensure paramedics could move in essential equipment like stretchers.

Along with the card system, the library now has an app called Ex Libris Library Mobile that students can download. Safley said it gives students a more accessible way to discover what the library offers.

“It tells you if there’s any open seating … as it detects the number of phones in the building to help make students know if floors are available,” Safley said. “It [also] helps with other things, like reserving books.”

The next steps of the security plan will focus on the second floor and elevators, and will be put into effect during winter break and spring semester. This includes added scanners where students enter the elevator and the second floor.

“Now that the library is safer, I hope UTD is able to make other buildings feel just as secure,” Pujara said. “It would be nice to have other places open overnight to study, rather than just one overcrowded building.”

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