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.


July 25, 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

The trope we see most often in movies and TV crime shows is when a child is kidnapped, it’s done by the “creepy guy driving a van.” We tell our kids, as soon as they can know it, about “Stranger Danger,” and we spend our lives worrying about them, even into their adulthood. The truth is according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (www.MissingKids.org), most children are kidnapped from the custodial parent, who has the legal right to care for them, by the non-custodial parent, who does not.

These incidents either end in tragedy or at a minimum, with plenty of trauma for the anguished parent and the child, who, we hope, is far too young to fully comprehend what is happening and why. It takes an effort by police, social workers, and the courts to get the child safely back with the proper parent.

The other trope we see on the screen is the woman who can’t have a baby and steals one from the Neonatal Unit at the local hospital. Thankfully, these incidents are extremely rare because hospitals have realized the tremendous liability, emotional harm, and horrible publicity that comes with allowing this crime to occur because they didn’t have vigilant staff, effective security and access controls, and constant monitoring policies.

As a part of what hospitals do, the use color codes broadcasted over their public address (PA) systems to tell staff about emergency situations. These are often followed by the building location, as in, “Code Blue, Room 348,” which tells the medical staff to respond with a cardiac crash cart to the third floor. This is the most common building-code announcement, but there are other hospital codes for other events:

Code Red - Fire
Code Silver/Gray - Active Shooter
Code Orange - Radioactive, Chemical, or Biological Hazard
Code Green - Patient Elopement/Walkaway
Code Black - Bomb Threat
Code Violent - Violent Person
Code Pink - Abducted Infant or Young Child

The response plan in an actual Code Pink emergency in a hospital is to immediately send all available medical, security, and even administrative staff to their nearest exterior exit door and stop anyone from leaving with an infant or toddler.

Hospital Security officers coordinate with the supervisors and employees at the location where the child was last seen and take an immediate look at all available video camera footage to get a description of the abductor and the abductee. They will allow actual parents with children to leave and detain potential child-stealers for the police.

Now, let’s focus on the possibility of a stolen child at the library. Your library needs a similar plan, where staff has been trained (and has practiced it in an annual drill) to drop what they are doing when they hear a Code Pink PA announcement, move to their nearest entry/exit door, and stop anyone from leaving with a child. Only after it has been verified that the person is the bona fide parent, caregiver, or guardian, can they both be allowed to leave. If the person who has taken the child pushes past the library employee to escape but leaves the child behind, so much the better. We just want the kid to be safe and we can provide video footage and/or a detailed description of the perpetrator to the police when they arrive.

The following possible disturbing scenarios that could occur in your library, although they are rare:

  • a child is kidnapped by a stranger in the library, either when the parent or caregiver is not looking or when the child has come to the library alone or with friends;
  • a child encounters the kidnapper in the public restroom (or worse, when the kidnapper hides in the children’s-only restroom);
  • a child is grabbed in the parking lot while walking toward the library.

What is most likely, however, is when the non-custodial parent and the custodial parent either meet in the library parking lot or inside the library to arrange the visitation exchange or to discuss why were won’t be a visitation exchange, and the kid gets taken by the non-custodial parent by force. (I have heard judges and family court advocates suggest the “local library is a good neutral meeting place” for these types of high-stress encounters.) It can be quite an emotional moment for all concerned when a tearful mom runs inside the library to tell the staff that her child has been taken by her former spouse or partner. This is definitely the time for a 9-1-1 call. In any potential crime or violent situation that happens inside or outside your library, you should provide the responding police with any parking lot camera video or internal camera video footage. Seconds and minutes matter.

Anyone who has followed my blog, podcast, and webinar content here at Library 2.0 knows I believe in the need for occasional practice drills for high-stress/high-threat emergency situations, e.g., Run-Hide drills for a potential active shooter; fire drills; and evacuations for gas leaks, power blackouts, and HazMat spills. These drills should be done before the library opens and with full staff awareness that they are going to occur. No need to surprise or frighten staff with a seemingly realistic situation that is actually a drill--those wrongly coordinated events offer a good way to terrorize, injure, or demoralize library staff, and they can create trust issues with management and don’t help with learning or compliance.

A pre-planned Code Pink drill can be done by telling staff about the incident through the library PA system (or megaphones used by supervisors or PICs, which can be brought, not surprisingly, on Amazon). The drill should start with the announcement, “Code Pink! Attention All Staff - Code Pink!” All staff should move quickly to the exits, including those accessible only through an internal staff hallway, since bad people may use the employees-only section of the library to get free. (Yet another reason to keep those non-public doors locked by key card access.) During the drill, other staff who are not guarding the doors can help with the search of the building, looking in kid-sized hiding places, unused rooms, restrooms, etc., until it’s time to end the exercise.

In a real event, all staff should block the exit doors and wait for a description of the missing child as it comes in. As soon as it becomes clear after a fast search that the child is definitely not in the library and is presumed missing, call 9-1-1. For anyone attempting to leave with a child, staff must ask the right questions to verify who is who, and if they have doubts, say, “You’ll have to stay here until the police arrive to sort this out.”

The reason for the Code Pink drill and real-time response is to stop the kidnapper before he or she can leave and to help get the child back. Time is critical in these actual events. Like other potentially bad things that may or may not ever happen at your library, it’s best to have a plan, a building-wide notification, staff training, and a drill in place to make it more likely we can stop this potentially tragic crime.

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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.