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.

An Interview with Dr. James R. Wining (by Dr. Steve Albrecht)

My name is Jim Wining and I am a parent of an autistic person (AP). While my educational background says teacher and my work background says businessperson, my real life has been, since the birth of my oldest son in 1982, about autism. As a father, business owner, business executive, and pastor, my life has been all about listening to autistic persons and communicating with them with understanding and love for their differences.

Over the past thirty-eight years, I helped start and maintain Autism Outreach Fellowship at Lee’s Summit, Missouri, with the goal of providing the autistic community quarterly social events for their autistic family member. I have also directed a program in New Milford, Pennsylvania, piloting the employment opportunities for young autistic adults. 

My wife and I started a program, which lasted over twenty years in Lone Jack, Missouri, known as “Show Time Llamas & Alpacas.” Its goal was to integrate the autistic child into the world with animals that smell good, feel soft, and quietly hum a relaxing sound. While these autistic children interacted with other “so-called normal children,” they became mutually socially compatible.  

Finally, as President of Acts Ministry, I have taken the socialization of autistic persons to religious organizations who have been resistive or adversarial to autistic families. My goal in both Springfield and Independence, Missouri, and elsewhere has been to provide events to help the public become more aware and less fearful or antagonistic to autistic people who are receiving them and communicating in a different way.

Steve Albrecht asked me to put together some key points to help library staff interact and serve autistic persons. We will be presenting a webinar on this issue for Library 2.0 soon. Thank you for understanding these unique patrons in your libraries.

AUTISM AWARENESS: Some Triggers in the Library

From VeryWellhealth.com, “Anyone who meets the criteria for having autism spectrum disorder (ASD) will be further diagnosed as having ASD Level 1, ASD Level 2, or ASD Level 3, according to criteria outlined in the most recent Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-V), used by clinicians. These levels are based on a person's strengths and limitations in regards to their ability to communicate, adapt to new situations, expand beyond restricted interests, and manage daily life. They specifically indicate how much support an autistic person needs, with Level 1 meaning relatively little support is required; Level 2 meaning they need substantial support; and Level 3 indicating they need significant support (https://bit.ly/2L1CkwW).”

LIBRARIANS - Staff should not raise voice much above a whisper. The AP knows the voice level of a library probably better than the librarian, so if the librarian is unable to communicate with the AP immediately seek additional support and avoid repeating instructions or directions. Always be prepared for confinement even if the Guardian is present. 

BRIGHT LIGHTS - These should be avoided as autistic persons (AP) may react either catatonically or violently. 

TOUCH - If advised of germ possibilities on books, the AP will neither open nor be in an area with the books.

SMELL - Extreme odors, like with disinfectants, may result in screaming or a near meltdown. 

DIRECTIONS - Try to avoid the “no” command. Go around it if the AP asks for a book and it is checked out answer this way, “The book will be available on a future date.” Try to avoid saying words of rejection such as, “The book is checked out and not available.”

RESTROOMS - This can be a source of extreme reaction including demands of cleanliness to disrupting the cleanliness of the restrooms. Try to avoid single rooms with private locking doors.

“MELTDOWN” - This is a last-ditch effort by AP to defend against a sensory attack, physical confrontation, and/or emotional event. A meltdown can include screaming, yelling, throwing objects, pounding his or her head against wall, tearing flesh from his or her body, and other physical and non-physical reactions to a perceived challenge

CONFINEMENT - This is a step taken by two or more people to restrict the actions of an AP during a time of Melt Down. The action involves forming a circle around the AP with your body and arms extended. Do not physically contact the AP but be prepared to be struck and to repel the attack. Do not administer physical restraint. The typical meltdown usually lasts 3 to 5 minutes but when aggravated or for some unknown reason can last up to 30 minutes. Eliminate public contact around the melt-down area and seek the Guardian’s advice or public service including fire and police personnel. Firefighters are usually better trained than police to handle such matters. 

SOCIAL DISTANCING - Space is your ally. The 6-foot rule is perfect for seating, standing, and general movement in the library. Remember AP always have a difficulty with socialization. 

CHECKING OUT MATERIALS - Don’t worry about eye contact but be careful not to take items from AP. Let AP voluntarily hand you the book, CD, etc. Ask him or her for his or her library card or the Guardian’s card. If the AP has reached without a card very calmly say, “The items will be right here in a visible, designated place and will be checked out to you when your card is presented.” Be careful to itemize these items especially if they are “no check-out items” as they could likely disappear. If the Guardian is not present send someone to find him or her.

LEAVING WITH MATERIALS WITHOUT CHECKING THEM OUT - If the AP is leaving with unauthorized material immediately contact the Guardian. If the Guardian has left the library and is outside, motion to him or her for assistance. Do not follow the AP.

AP RESTRICTIONS - AP should not be allowed to be in the library if he or she is required to have a Guardian for life decisions, including health and welfare matters. If the AP has, in your best estimation, “Diminished Authority,” a Guardian must be present at all times. Seek help from a library supervisor to take the course of action mentioned above.

VIOLENCE - Physical or verbal conflict can occur instantly, without an apparent warning. For AP, more frequently than not, verbal conflict results in self-inflicted physical violence to the AP self, not the perceived attacking party. If confinement fails within a 5-minute period or the violence escalates, withdraw and call for police or fire help. Always keep the public away from the AP. 

DRINKING FOUNTAINS & REFRESHMENTS - Public drinking services are potential sites for a physical disruption and should be avoided. Limiting refreshments to water only is recommended. Other eating, drinking, or chewing items can be distracting to the AP and are a source of “fairness complaints,” which can escalate into a situation.

ADMISSION TO THE LIBRARY - You must be aware at all times of AP in the library. Therefore, require guests providing guardian services to notify staff upon entering. I strongly recommend that Guardians should be restricted to not more than 3 APs at a time. Look out for large numbers of group home members -- 5 to 10 APs with only one or two Guardians. This is a high-risk situation that could trigger multiple meltdowns at a time.

PARKING LOT - If possible, have someone regularly checking the parking lot for AP patrons. If you see an AP having problems in the parking lot, don’t let him or her into the library. Meet the Guardians at the main door and discuss their visit before anyone enters. You may want to postpone their visit, restrict their numbers, or only allow certain APs who are not an apparent danger. All library staff needs to monitor for behavioral concerns. 

SAFETY FIRST - If a meltdown occurs, contain the incident, decide if you need to evacuate the area and then decide if you need to call your public safety professionals.

Votes: 0
E-mail me when people leave their comments –

You need to be a member of Library 2.0 to add comments!

Join Library 2.0


  • Very interesting article, thanks for putting it together. It has a lot of items that are 'damage control' type safety points. I am wondering if we could also have an article that would be able the best-practice of making a space AP-compatible or friendly. I know places like supermarkets sometimes have a 'low stimulation' time of the week where lights are dimmed, sound is contained. Has this been explored in library spaces, and is there any evidence that this increases safety for all concerned?

    Thanks, Cass

  • You will never be able to fully be aware of autistics in a public place. I can say that with 100% certainty, since I know my library didn't know that they had one autistic there 37.5 hours a week since the autistic herself didn't know until she was finally diagnosed in her 40s, after working for the library for about 15 years.That autistic is myself. If an autistic is doing their best to mask and appear neurotypical (which is not good for autistic mental health and leads to autistic burnout - that burnout is why I finally was able to be diagnosed, as the knowledge about how to spot intelligent female autistics wasn't there when I was growing up), and is a good enough actor to keep the mask up until they are in private and can be who they actually are, good luck spotting us.

This reply was deleted.

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.

Safe Library Short Tips (+ Dog)

Go to all videos.

Buy the Book





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.