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Credit: Sage Levine

After declaring that bag checks at Van Pelt Library will be phased out by the end of the spring semester, Penn has walked back on its decision. 

In January, Director of Penn Libraries Constantia Constantinou announced that the longstanding bag checks were slated to be abolished by the end of the semester. She wrote in an email to The Daily Pennsylvanian that over the course of the semester, the library will be testing "new systems and technologies," which will replace bag checks. 

After months of delays, Van Pelt and the Division of Public Safety have given up on the idea of eliminating bag checks, Associate Vice Provost and Deputy University Librarian Jon Shaw said. Shaw said the current bag check procedure has been working well, and there aren't any changes that need to be made. 

"Consistency has led to efficiency for us," Shaw said, adding that DPS has a system in place to effectively coordinate and train Van Pelt security guards. 

Over the past few months, the library team and DPS have been working closely to study several technologies and have implemented a few security measures, DPS Director of Security Services Louis Petrecco said. However, no changes will be made to the bag check in the near future until there is a viable alternative solution, Petrecco added. 

In early April, the security team identified an issue with the Van Pelt security gates while testing new equipment, Shaw wrote in an email. If bag checks were to be replaced with a new security system, it could cause a need to update or replace the security gates. Later in April, a Penn Libraries spokesperson said the bag checks were still in place while the library searched for new security technologies.

As an updated security measure, Van Pelt began using a laser scanner last semester at the exit to scan barcodes inside each library book, replacing the use of traditional date stamps.

College junior Michiyah Collins said the bag checks aren't necessary, but has not found them to be a hassle.

"I just kind of prepare for it when I'm walking over. I just sling my bag around front and unzip it, show them, and zip it back up," Collins said. 

Other students argue that the bag checks are not an effective way to prevent theft, as the checks are not thorough.

Wharton and Engineering sophomore Kanishka Ragula said the security personnel does not put much effort into checking student bags. 

"It's more just a nuisance than anything, because [security] don't really care when they do the bag checks. They're putting in the minimum amount of effort possible. They're treating it more like a formality than anything else," he said. 

"I don't really know how effective [the bag checks are], other than just stopping students for 10 seconds on their way out," he added. 

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