Re: "Student-proofing" equipment

Gail B. Fedak (
Wed, 27 May 1998 17:13:02 -0700

Agee, Jane wrote:

> Good morning,
> We are considering how we might make our public viewing area for video more
> "student-proof" to decrease the amount of tampering with cables and thus
> rendering the units non-functional. Currently all monitors and video playback
> units are in carrels in a viewing room adjacent to the main service desk. I'd
> like to hear from anyone who has found a way to make it more difficult for
> students to "play" with the cables.
> Also those of you who assign monitors to your users (monitors in the viewing
> area with the playback units behind a desk), please share with us your
> satisfaction/dissatisfaction with this arrangement.
> Thank you in advance.
> Jane Agee,
> Duke University


We opened our media center 23 years ago with approximately 150 individual viewing
carrels connected to a central closed-circuit delivery system behind the circulation
desk. We gradually reduced the number of viewing carrels to our present 18 carrels
and still use the closed-circuit system. We play tapes over this system as well as
hand students the tapes to play individually. We do not individually assign viewing
carrels, students choose which one they want to use. We check out headphones with
phone plugs which go into a wall jack beside the monitor or headphones with mini
plugs which go into the monitor itself. It was not until our number of carrels
declined to about half the original number that tampering with cables became a
problem. Our technicians installed "security sleeves" on the RF cables where they
plug in to the equipment, a solution that has worked well. They purchased these
sleeves from MCM (1-800-543-4330). The monitors and VCRs are not secured to the
carrels other than by the cables. The cables go through a hole in the carrel wall
to a trench in the floor, and from there to the technical room so that only one end
of the cables need be secured. The carrels and only some of the equipment are
visible from the circulation desk. We no longer have trouble with tampering except
that someone occasionally pulls the headphone plug from the monitor, rendering the
headphones that plug into the wall useless - a nuisance easily remedied by a student
worker putting the plug back in the monitor (no technician required).

We tried the alarm warning method which did not deter tampering for long. We
decided that the security sleeves were less troublesome than the warnings because
once the sleeves were installed, not a difficult task, the work did not have to be
repeated countless times. Also equipment is not rendered unusable during extended
hours when no technician is available.

Hope this helps.
Gail B. Fedak
Instructional Media Resources
Middle Tennessee State University
Murfreesboro, TN 37132