Welcome to The Safe Library: Dr. Albrecht's Library 2.0 Service, Safety, and Security Resources

Our Library 2.0 "Safe Library" training programs for library staffers and leaders cover service, security, safety, supervision, and even a little stress management. Our goal is to help to keep all library employees physically and psychologically safe, making it easier for them to serve all patrons in their facilities.

Dr. Albrecht's podcast recordings and feed are to the right, and following immediately below that is a full list of his blog posts. A full list of paid webinars is to the left.


May 9th, 2024


Dr. Albrecht's blog posts are below. One of the features of his blog is "ASK DR. STEVE," where readers submit questions and he answers them. To submit a question for Dr. Steve, please email askdrsteve@library20.com.

By Dr. Steve Albrecht

One of the hardest jobs I ever held was working as a Ramp Agent for a major airline at a small airport. I loaded and unloaded passenger bags, which meant operating conveyor belts, and crawling into baggage compartments on regional jets that were freezing in the winter, broiling in the summer, and not tall enough to stand up in. I walked planes out to the taxiways and waved arriving planes into the parking position, using the fun orange wands. I drove trucks known as tugs, hooked up planes--using heavy tow bars--for departure pushback, and picked up FOD (Foreign Object Debris) off the tarmac before the planes arrived.

A lot of this work was driven by the use of a checklist, which every employee carried on a lanyard around his or her neck. This two-sided laminated card (for arriving planes and departing planes) was referred to by all ground employees, from the newest to the most senior. We went through both verbal checklists every single time before a plane arrived or as we prepared it to leave. You might say, “I’m sure the longtime employees didn’t even have to read the card out loud. They knew it backward and forward.” No and yes; they did have it fully memorized but they also read it to the whole group, and got a verbal response as to who was going to do what, every single flight. Safety First. Nothing Left to Chance. Step by Step Matters.

Lots of important jobs use checklists: pilots during takeoffs and landings; chefs and cooks in restaurants, to make sure the ingredients are included and the preparation process gets followed; and especially surgeons, as was so well-captured by Dr. Atul Gawande, a physician and surgeon, in his bestseller, The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right (Picador Books, 2011).

Does your library use a printed checklist for closing time procedures? You might think your facility is too small, or too well-organized to need such a device. “We don’t need a written checklist. We all know what to do. The staff always gets it right. We’ve never left a child locked in the building! Well, there was that one time when we found the kid who managed to get into our break room and fell asleep on our couch after eating all our snacks.”

We can assume ourselves right into a lawsuit or a local or national media event. The bigger your library, the more floors, the more nooks and crannies, stairwells, elevators, media rooms, classrooms, storage rooms, break rooms, and public and staff restrooms you have, the more you have to be thorough in your end-of-the-day/night closing procedures.

Let’s consider what should be on your staff checklist. Some of these you may already do; others need to get added to a written form, kept on a clipboard, and checked by the PIC, so that all staff completes them at the end of each shift.

  • Create a systematic process. If you have multiple floors, have some staff start at the top and work down to the bottom floor and some staff work from the bottom to the top floor.
  • Walk through every room that needs to be locked and fully verify it’s empty. This includes looking into closets, storage rooms, and cabinets, where a child could hide. (Think like a kid or a developmentally-disabled young adult and consider where you would play hide if you were trying to avoid an adult: toy boxes, large empty storage boxes, unused/unlocked rooms.)
  • Make certain every closet, storage room, under-sink, break room, or utility room with any HazMat in it (cleaning supplies, chemicals, glues, paints, bug spray, etc.) is closed, preferably locked, and secured.
  • All rooms that house the library server or any telephone or electrical equipment need to be checked and re-locked.
  • Make certain all public computers, laptops, or tablets are logged off. If possible, store the portable electronics in a lockable room, like the PC lab.
  • If applicable, position any elevators on the ground floor and turn them off.
  • Check to see no students or children remain in any rooms designed for their use.
  • Verify that all public, children’s, and employee restrooms are completely empty. This means opening the stall doors too.
  • If possible, secure and lock the employee break room. Make sure all coffee pots, microwave ovens, or stoves are off and any refrigerator and freezer doors are checked and then tightly closed.
  • Make certain all office equipment is turned off: laminators, printers, copiers, postage meters, etc.
  • If your library is large enough to have a loading dock or warehouse area, walk through to make certain all vehicle keys are secured, all theft prevention cages are locked, and no one is hiding in the vicinity. (Look up to make certain no one has climbed the access ladder to the roof and is waiting until you leave. Rare, but possible.)
  • If your library collects cash or credit card data, make certain all monies, petty cash, or checks are placed into a floor safe before leaving. If you use a cash drawer, place it empty on the counter.
  • If your library uses portable security radios, store them in their battery chargers.
  • Check the security camera monitor(s) to see that all the interior and exterior camera views are operable and visible, especially in the darkness around the building.
  • Check that any installed fire alarm systems are in operation.
  • Turn off all non-essential lights.
  • Arm the burglar alarm system, if applicable. It can’t help if it’s not on. (For some burglar alarm systems, it’s possible to lock the facility with the staff inside and then activate the “Intrusion Alarm Only” function of the alarm, meaning it will ring audibly and/or notify the police or the alarm motoring company if some breaks in while staff is still inside. The system can be re-armed as staff leaves the building.)
  • Leave as a group; walk each other to your cars or ask the library security officer to do that, if applicable. (If sketchy people loiter in the parking lot after closing time, ask the local police to have an officer sit in the lot for a few minutes each night until all staff has left. This step is possible if it’s requested on a nightly basis and they aren’t busy.)
  • Report any exterior lighting outages along the building perimeter, walkways, sidewalks, and in the parking lots. This includes testing the emergency lighting system occasionally as well.
  • (If applicable, make certain the Library Cat is found, fed, watered, and given a clean litter box before leaving.)

When speaking about the Russians during the Cold War, President Ronald Reagan said, “Trust but verify.” Be thorough when you close the library.

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Dr. Steve Albrecht

Since 2000, Dr. Steve Albrecht has trained thousands of library employees in 28+ states, live and online, in service, safety, and security. His programs are fast, entertaining, and provide tools that can be put to use immediately in the library workspace with all types of patrons.

In 2015, the ALA published his book, Library Security: Better Communication, Safer Facilities. His new book, The Safe Library: Keeping Users, Staff, and Collections Secure, was just published by Rowman & Littlefield.

Steve holds a doctoral degree in Business Administration (D.B.A.), an M.A. in Security Management, a B.A. in English, and a B.S. in Psychology. He is board-certified in HR, security management, employee coaching, and threat assessment.

He has written 25 books on business, security, and leadership topics. He lives in Springfield, Missouri, with six dogs and two cats.

More on The Safe Library at thesafelibrary.com. Follow on X (Twitter) at @thesafelibrary and on YouTube @thesafelibrary. Dr. Albrecht's professional website is drstevealbrecht.com.

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Praise for Dr. Albrecht

"Thank you, thank you, thank you! Thank you for presenting at our staff development day. Our staff has expressed their appreciation for the information and tools you provided. We know the lessons learned will be useful in our day-to-day work. It was a pleasure to have you with us -- even if it was only virtually." - Athens, GA Library

"I wanted to thank you for the session. My husband was listening from the other room and said, 'Wow, that was great!' This was the best library workshop I've been to, and I've been to a lot! The staff was saying the same in emails." - Emily from MI

"Your suggestions of what to say to challenging patrons will really help me once we allow patrons back into the library. Thanks!" - Lori from IL

"Not only have I learned incredibly valuable skills to use in my career as a public librarian, those lessons will have a ripple effect as I teach a course on Social Crisis Management... I always give Dr. Albrecht the credit in the portions of my lecture and presentation.  And have first hand experiences using these lessons to support his approach. Thanks again for lending your expertise to ensure that as librarians we can remain safe, keep our customers safe and still deliver on our mission and the meaningful work we do each day." - Jen 

"You helped to keep my brain from turning into mush during this long time off. Thank you!" - C. from MO

"I was able to view Library Safety and Security and Interacting with the Homeless. I learned so much and appreciate the education you offered.  I became aware of changes, large and small that I can make in my life to enhance how I interact with all people. I do hope our library offers your classes in the future because I did not view all the webinars that I wanted to and I am sure my coworkers feel the same. Thank you again." - Vicki from VA

"I wanted to send you a note of thanks for your webinars... I watched 5 of them and found them to be incredibly informative. Currently I am working with my library's director to put together a situation response manual for safety and security matters that apply to our own library... What you have shared has been very useful to help set up some guidelines and decide a good direction for training within our organization. Thank you so much for sharing your insights." - Jennifer from IN

"Thank you for the great content. I appreciate it." - Carmen from MT

"[I] found [your webinars] extremely helpful and informative. Thanks again and stay safe!" - Christine from PA

"I remember when you came to our Annual Employee Training Session and presented a terrific class. I was able to view all of your webinars during this time and I learned so much. Your generosity of spirit during this pandemic is truly appreciated and your kindness will be remembered. Thanks again and Cheers." - Bernadette from CA

"We have watched a couple of [your webinars] in the past and they always provide a great approach to issues that are becoming more and more common in public libraries." - Rod from TX

"Your webinars were educational and inspiring." - Karen from GA

"I have recently watched all your webinars... (this begins to sound like a groupie saying, "I have all your records!") and I'm so grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from them. They were probably the best work at home professional development material I encountered in the two months my library has been closed. I've worked in public libraries since 1988 and everything you said makes sense in my experience. I look forward to putting what I learned from your webinars to use when we eventually reopen to the people the library exists for. Many thanks!" - Barbara from BC Canada

"I've learned a lot from your diverse offerings as I knew that I would. I listened to 4 of your webinars at this run. I also attended your talk last year at one of our branch libraries. I hope that your presentations remain in my mind and that your practical, philosophical and respectful methods of engagement can be brought forth in times of need." - Deborah from CA

"We don't always take the time to do online courses or participate in webinars because of time and money restraints. We have been lucky to have the time now to take advantage of these opportunities. Your webinars really pack a lot of info in the time allotted. Your observations and surveys conducted with staff across the country made this applicable and the reality. Many of the situations described sound like our day to day interactions with patrons. Again thank you so much for these valuable webinars. I hope we will be open soon and able to put your tips into practice." - Kathy from MD

"I’ve really enjoyed all of your webinars, especially the ones about security and challenging patrons, and I’ve gained some useful knowledge that I can utilize at my library. I hope you have a wonderful day! Thanks again!" - Deborah from OH

"You're the best of the best." - Nick from CA

"I have found your webinars especially helpful during this time of stay-at-home orders and the inability to report to work for my daily schedule. (My branch is closed indefinitely.) I have especially found "Interacting with the Homeless" and "Stress Management for Library Staff" as the most help to date. I have been doing daily meditation as a stress reliever and taking time to find happiness despite all that is taking place in this world.... having this opportunity to listen to your thought-processes is very invigorating and life-changing. Thank you from the bottom of my heart." - Danielle from MD

"[Y]ou've expanded our minds and helped us greatly with your generosity. Thank you for all that you do, I appreciate it immensely." - Valerie from TX

"Thank you very much for your work and very good webinar." - Donna from IN

"I appreciate your vast knowledge on patrons and safety situations." - Mary from IL

"I've long wanted to explore your work, and have enjoyed and learned from 4 of your webinars so far, with plans to view them all. They are excellent! I am charged with leading our staff around issues of safety and security in our rural system, and you are a clear and dynamic voice in our field. I really appreciate your experience, knowledge, and presentation style, down to talking fast to get the most information into the time of the presentation! Hopefully, I'll be able to obtain the new edition of your book soon, as I hope to keep these themes as relevant currents for the duration of my career." - Kimberlee from CA


"Thank you for your wonderful `Safety and Security in the Library' presentation. I so appreciate that you were able to join us virtually this year and share your knowledge on these topics with our library staff. I look forward to exploring some of the resources you shared with us."

"Thanks so much for recording the presentation. It was fantastic!"

"Thank you, Dr Steve, for your presentation today. It was very helpful and insightful. Your subtle humor also lightened the mood."

"I wanted to reach out and thank you for all the information that you gave in your webinar on conducting a library facility security assessment."





Watch Dr. Steve Albrecht on video and onstage, as he presents his safety and security workshop, "Dealing With Challenging Patrons" to a live library audience. 45 minutes for unlimited staff showings at a one-time $495 fee or included in any all-access pass program.