Stanford Library Cavity Search Yields Valuable Microfilm

February 2, 2009 5:51 pm
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Stanford Library Cavity Search Yields Valuable Microfilm

Stanford, CA – At most libraries Michael Blum (’10) would have walked away with a microfilm reel of Better Homes and Gardens from 1955. But not at Stanford. The library’s draconian checkout search policy finally paid off Friday when, after a comprehensive cavity search, a library employee found the microfilm hidden in Blum’s rectum.

“We are very happy with our security today,” said Michael B. Schultz, Associate Librarian of Checkout and Security Affairs. “It was because of our strict search policy that this theft was prevented.”

While over 99.7 percent of libraries in the United States use magnetic sensors to prevent unchecked materials from leaving the library, Stanford—though renowned for its technology—relies on a sophisticated system from the 1890s, in which students wait in line to have their bags and personal belongings searched before exiting the library. Students are also subject to comprehensive strip and cavity searches.

“Although our policy clearly violates the personal rights of Stanford students and is humiliating and demeaning to both employees and community members, we believe the cost has finally been justified,” said Dana Scalabrine, Assistant Director of Microfilm and Microfiche Collections. “It would have been a tragedy had we lost that microfilm reel.”