Library’s security system nabs bike thieves

Thieves and vandals who have stolen bikes from outside the Van Nest Library in the past, or graffitied its walls, will now have some trouble in their efforts. A brand new set of high-tech security cameras are now up and running both inside and outside the library.

It took three years to allocate the $100,000 needed to install 12 cameras — six inside and six outside — that were sorely needed, said head librarian Helene Samberg.

“It’s already proved useful,” said Samberg. “Just recently, a woman left her bicycle in the vestibule and it got lifted.” The next day, library employees and police reviewed the footage and were able to find the vandals and return the bike.

Cameras reveal the entire vestibule entryway, every nook and cranny of the library interior, and a small part of the outside street, where cameras can pan around to see as far as the corner of Lydig and Barnes avenues.

It was in 2006 that the Pelham Parkway South Neighborhood Association first brought the need for cameras to Councilman James Vacca’s attention. “This lends a better feeling of security to the neighborhood,” Vacca said in a figurative ribbon-cutting for the new cameras. “It’s a good victory for Pelham Parkway and for the library.”

Samberg said that these cameras are a big help, but that the library will still have some other struggles to deal with in the nar future. “Everyone’s going through tough times with this economy, and we’ll have some funding issues,” said Samberg. “We’ll just have to campaign officials as hard as we can to let them know how important the library is to thge community.”

Samberg said that the library — both its staff and patrons — will likely launch a letter-writing project to notify elected officials of the library’s need for financial help. Luckily Edith Blitzer, president of the PPSNA, was on hand and offered up a partnership to Samberg. “We need the library, and we at the PPSNA will absolutely help in your letter-writing campaign,” Blitzer said.

Daniel Roberts at (718) 742-3383 or

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