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.



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

In this third part of our three-part discussion of the pioneering customer service work of my father, Dr. Karl Albrecht (www.KarlAlbrecht.com), let’s look at his collection of ideas about what he calls the Spirit of Service

The Spirit of Service is a set of 20 behaviors that can help all library employees focus on not just the “how-to” part of providing great customer service (as we discussed in my blog and podcast about Karl’s booklet, The Code of Quality Service), but the “why” part about serving our patrons. 

Serving others in the library environment is all about creating a moment in time where the employee and the patron connect, communicate, and deliver or receive advice, information, services, or solutions. The concepts presented here take some thought, since they are a combination of abstract ideas and concrete behaviors. We can operationalize them throughout the library, using training, reminders, stories, examples, and praise.

  1. Service should mean something to all of us.

    Karl defines a service as “anything a person does that contributes something of value to someone else.” That certainly applies in the library.

  2. Service is all about feelings.

    The service experience starts with a feeling - ours, as library employees - and ends with a feeling - our patrons’ perspective, about how they were served. Good feelings at the start of an employee-patron interaction usually leads to good feelings at the end.  

  3. What is the “Spirit of Service?”

    Karl defines the Spirit of Service as “an attitude, based on certain values and beliefs about people, life, and work, that leads a person to willingly serve others and take pride in his or her work.” This means you care about your job, your co-workers, your bosses, and our patrons, so you do work that you are proud of.  

  4. The people you serve need your best efforts.

    Great service providers are also great listeners. They don’t get distracted by side work or other conversations; they focus on the person they are helping. Service interactions require concentration, effort, and even stamina. Be ready to do your best, at the start of your workday and all the way through to the end of it. 

  5. You have three service roles.

    You have your Worker role, where you do your job with a commitment to excellence, on behalf of your bosses and the patrons. You have your Team Member role, where you help your co-workers and colleagues when needed, sharing information, support, and effort. And one of your most important roles is to be a Brand Ambassador for your library. You’re always being watched and even judged by the patrons, as to how you do your job. When you wear a library name tag or a shirt that identifies you as a library staffer, the patron doesn’t care how long you have worked there or what your job title is (or if you’re tired and want to go home). They want and expect good service, so represent your library whenever you’re on the floor.   

  6. Nobody is too important to serve others.

    Library leaders, directors, managers, supervisors, and the PIC (Person In Charge for that month, week, or shift) need to serve their co-workers and the people that work for them. Part of the role of a skilled leader is to remove obstacles that make it difficult for employees to do their work. Effective leaders know when to jump in and help their team members, especially in front of and on behalf of the patrons. 

  7. To lead is to serve.

    Library leaders should realize the significance of their two-way relationship with their employees: they give orders and instructions and ask that work gets done, and they realize they have to take care of their employees. Understanding work-life balance is an important leadership skill. Good bosses serve their people as they ask them to serve the patrons.  

  8. Everybody is important in the chain of service.

    Libraries may have full-time employees, part-time employees, interns, or volunteers. They are all important and they all can play an important part in providing good service to patrons. All library staffers - regardless of their job titles - bring their life history, job knowledge, educational experiences, and service skills to their work.    

  9. Some of us serve unseen.

    If the nature of your job is that you don’t or rarely see the library patron on the floor, it’s easy to think you’re not in the service business. But even if you don’t serve the patrons, your job is to serve other parts of the library organization and serve those co-workers who do interact with patrons. Working behind the scenes and away from the public counters is just as valuable to the library as a frontline patron-contact position.    

  10. Your co-workers are your customers, too.

    Your co-workers count on you to deliver information, projects, products, and results. Just as you have responsibilities to support your supervisors, you have an equal responsibility to serve your colleagues so they can do their jobs too. We’re all in the service business - with different customers, priorities, and deadlines - but with the same goals. 

  11. Do you have the “Spirit of Service?”

    Are you coming to work with a positive attitude? Are you ready for your workday? Are you bringing as much energy and enthusiasm to the end of your workday as you do at the start of it?

  12. The ancient Greeks called it “agape.” 

    This purest definition of this concept means, “a feeling of unconditional love and concern for others.” In our workplace, this idea is displayed by being unselfish, supportive, friendly, approachable, and kind, to both colleagues and patrons.

  13. The ancient Hawaiians called it “aloha.”

    In Hawaii, aloha is a concept with many definitions. It is a spirit of oneness with the earth and ocean, with others, having feelings of love and friendship, shared through the energy of our breath (alo = deep within, ha = breath). At work, the aloha spirit is joyful, perceptive of the needs of others, and welcoming the uniqueness of every person we serve. 

  14. Some people call it the “Golden Rule.”

    We all know the Golden Rule says, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you” or “Treat people the way you want to be treated.” Because we all see our world differently, perhaps we can add to this by saying, “Treat people the way they wanted to be treated, not only how you would want to be treated.” This starts by being a good listener and asking respectful, clarifying questions.  

  15. We all have to work together.

    You may have worked in some jobs where a few other employees spent more time complaining about the work than it would have taken to do the actual job. Work is work, which means it’s not always fun, challenging, easy, or different. Do your part to pitch in and help get the tough jobs out of the way. Working together can make the day go by faster.  

  16. Caring about others starts with caring about yourself.

    A positive attitude starts with you. The good feelings that create great service begin with you. How you feel is often picked up on by your co-workers. You can communicate your feelings - good or bad, positive or negative - to our patrons as well. Monitor your use of eye contact, tone, body language, and general nourishing feelings throughout your workday. Make adjustments to feel better so you serve better.  

  17. The people you serve may not always be lovable.

    The customer is not always right. Patrons can be difficult, entitled, rude, and even obnoxious. That doesn’t mean you have to be that way too.  Every person you meet has his or her own struggles, battles, and difficulties. Try not to take what they say or do personally. They’re usually mad at the situation or themselves, not at you, personally. Do the best you can to get them on their way, well-served by you.

  18. You may not always be feeling your best.

    Sometimes being in a service job when you are not feeling very helpful, energetic, or enthusiastic will require you to rely on your good acting skills. You may have to roleplay positive feelings for the day, until you can go home and recharge. 

  19. At the “Moment of Truth,” it’s up to you.

    Each time a patron comes in contact with any part of our library, Karl Albrecht says, it is a Moment of Truth. This includes over the counter, over the phone, in the stacks, or even online. After every interaction, our patrons make a score on the internal report cards we call carry around in our heads as to the level and quality of service they received. Successfully managing each of these important Moments of Truth is up to you.

  20. We’re all in this work together.

    Take care of yourself, take care of your bosses, take care of your co-workers, so we can all take care of our patrons.  

Karl Albrecht's Spirit of Service Service offers 20 thoughtful, practical steps toward improving and sustaining your own brand of service excellence. 

We can customize copies of Dr. Karl Albrecht’s 20-page Spirit of Service booklet for your library, putting your logo on the cover and including a message from the Library Director inside. Contact Steve Hargadon at Library 2.0.

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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.