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

Dr. Albrecht's podcast feed is below, and following immediately below that are his blog posts (you have to be logged in as a member of Library 2.0 [free] to see). Additionally:

Our 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.

BLOG POSTS INTRO

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

Food for thought time: Have we recently considered the value of putting library employees into a work uniform? There are pros and cons for both sides of this issue, including costs, the need for a more specific dress code policy, and getting employee buy-in. But there are some service and security benefits that can help move the decision toward a more formal look.

Many years ago, I had a polo shirt that was the exact color blue as the ones worn by the employees at Best Buy. I can recall three times I made the mistake of wearing that royal blue shirt into my local Best Buy store, only to be swamped with people, all with the same question, "Do you work here? I had a question about my computer…" Their irritation upon learning that I did not, in fact, work there was equally matched by my embarrassment from having to explain each time that I did not know where the computer cables or the new DVDs were. I learned my lesson and donated the shirt to a thrift store.

For the sake of this discussion, let's say your library employees wear whatever clothing they like - and except for their name tags - look like everyone else who comes into the building. Now let's imagine that we put our library employees - including the directors, managers, and supervisors - into polo shirts or long sleeve dress shirts (they could still wear whatever shoes and pants, shorts, skirts, capris, etc., they wanted). The shirts would have your library logo and/or the name of your city or county on them. Sending them out onto the library floor dressed like this, what might be the reaction from the patrons and the benefits to the employees?

Some patrons may not notice or care, others would certainly like the enhanced visibility, and a tiny few would complain that this is just another example of how they "miss the old days" at the library.

The advantages: it tells our patrons immediately who works there (and who does not, which could also be helpful to our police, fire, and medical first responders who enter the library); it tells our patrons and co-workers who is who in an emergency situation (where some people can get stress-created tunnel vision and not recognize an employee); and it suggests to our patrons a bit of professionalism that they are already used to seeing elsewhere. Most public contact jobs have a standard "uniform" for their employees: fast food and sit-down restaurants, bank tellers, hotel workers, repair people, airline crew members, car rental counters, and retail stores, to name a few.

The disadvantages: there will be an additional budget expense to buy and provide at least four to five shirts per employee; employees may feel like wearing a shirt that everyone else wears takes away from some of their personality and feels blah, bland, or controlling; and you may have to enforce some dress code policy rules if some employees routinely forget their shirts, or come to work in shirts that are not clean or pressed.

It's certainly easier to know who is an employee at a certain place if that person is always behind a desk or a counter. But library folks move around a lot and if they removed their name tags, most patrons wouldn't know they were an employee unless they had had plenty of previous encounters (and even then I'm not so sure they would notice, like seeing your kid's teacher at the supermarket and it doesn't sink in).

When rolled out positively, work uniforms can build camaraderie and make people feel more included as members of the library working team. Even library staffers who only work behind the scenes want to feel noticed and connected to their colleagues too.

Might it just be possible that a professional library shirt for all employees would not only cut down on the confusion about who works there, but would also increase the respect patrons have for library employees? Might they see them as more professional, help the employees feel more assertive, and make them instantly more recognizable and approachable? (Haven't we all had that experience where we think a person works at a big box retail store or a supermarket, ask him or her a question, only to find out he or she is a delivery vendor for a company that provides products to that store? It can be hard to tell the players without a scorecard.)

If the managers and supervisors want additional identification, what if we put them in a different colored shirt, that indicates they are the Person in Charge (PIC), the floor supervisor, or a shift manager? Example: all employees wear burgundy polos or dress shirts and the supervisors and managers wear light blue. Again, it's all about how these ideas are presented to the employees. It's not about creating unnecessary separation, but more about helping employees and patrons identify who is the go-to person in an emergency or an escalating confrontation with a patron.

We know most employees who don't have uniform shirts appreciate the freedom to dress as they please, but perhaps knowing you only have to decide what to wear on the lower half of your body for work is just one less thing to have to consider as you leave home for the day.

To me, the pros outweigh the cons, with the cost being the biggest hindrance. Perhaps a local clothing company in town would donate the work shirts, printed with your library logo, in exchange for attaching their tiny logo on a sleeve? Consider the Nike swoosh is on every major league uniform, and every golfer and NASCAR racer is a walking billboard. There might be some creative ways you could cover the costs and outfit your staff in cool clothes that improve service and security at your library.

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

Comments

  • I felt moved to comment after reading this blog post because of my initial great surprise that library employees in the United States do not wear uniforms! Really?! Most Library staff I work with here in New Zealand do wear uniforms. It is true that some staff do not like the uniform and do grumble a little about it, but our senior management team allow for employees to wear just the T-shirt or just the jacket if they would prefer to wear "mufti" underneath. Many employees will wear colourful dresses or skirts underneath their uniform jackets, along with their brightly coloured dyed hair, pretty shoes and accessories which always look lovely and allow for individuality to shine if needs be.

    I wear the full uniform (My own set of dark trousers, but with the uniform T- shirt and jacket)  because it is super convenient and saves money on having to purchase expensive work-grade clothes. It is also very easy to get dressed in the morning after the normal bicycle into work. The uniform is provided for us in the understanding that we foot the bill to replace it if it was damaged due to our own carelessness, rather than if it is just normal wear and tear or a work accident. I keep my uniform set of clothes at work, replacing each T-shirt with a clean one daily and then take the whole set home for washing on the weekend. I have a waterproof back-pack liner that I put folded, laundered uniform into so that when I bicycle in on the first week-day of work, it stays dry until ready to be folded away in my work-locker ready for the week ahead. Its great!

    Could I ask why library employees do not wear uniforms in the USA? It might just be a societal expectation. For instance, most school students in New Zealand wear uniforms, as do many work employees and so uniforms are just seen as an adult fact of life here. Muftii is something you wear on holiday, during time off, or on the weekends. Uniforms do add to one's feeling of pride and "togetherness" as an organisation well as providing excellent and instant security checks if there is a problem.

    Security can check in an instant to see visually if there are problems on the floor with anything or anyone, just by making sure that uniforms are in the right places at the right time and investigating quickly if non-uniformed people are in places they should not be, or if there is a lack of uniformed people near an emerging situation that may need more uniforms to be present. Members of the public can also quickly identify one and ask for your help, if there is a problem. Regarding expense for organisations providing uniforms for their employees, this added security of simply wearing a uniform pays for itself easily.

    I had an amusing instance when I left work in a hurry, forgetting that I was still in my work T-shirt and then popped into a supermarket on the way home to buy some bread. A  number of fellow shoppers stopped me and asked what times the library was opening over Matariki Weekend and after answering their questions, I felt very puzzled as to how on earth they all knew I worked at the library until several other people down at the green grocers asked me the same question. I eventually worked it out at the till when the teller gave me my change and smilingly asked if the library had any books on flower arranging and wether she could bring her daughter in to have a look on Saturday. 

    Haha! Silly me! I think I almost went as red as the radishes I was buying for that evening's green salad!

    :-)

     

  • Although my current library does not have a standard "uniform" shirt.  I did work at a library in Georgia years ago when the entire staff had a number of shirts in various light colors to wear with khaki "walking shorts" during the summer.  It typically would be close to or over 100 degrees outside and the AC units could barely keep the inside of the building at 85 degrees.  Much cooler for staff who were in the building for 8 hours at a time and certainly for staff conducting outdoor programs!  Additionally, the shirts were a good identifier when hosting large outdoor gatherings, patrons could easily find the staff.

     

  • Totally agree! It was so convenient, when I worked in a public library, to have one less decision each morning. We weren't required to wear a "uniform" shirt every day but over time it did help patrons recognize who worked there. It might not be so critical for one or two person libraries, where everyone in town knows everyone, but in places with more staff it's helpful for patrons and visitors. The library, Friends or Foundation could provide the first shirt, with options for employees to order more, as well as style options (we're in a colder climate so long-sleeves and fleece vests were popular). Also it's great advertising around town as well as when attending conferences and meetings. 

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, security, and supervision. 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. He is currently writing the sequel, The Safe Library: Keeping Users, Staff, and Collections Secure, for 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 24 books on business, security, and leadership topics. He lives with six dogs, two cats, and three chickens. (Not all in the same room, of course.)

UPCOMING WEBINARS

PAST WEBINARS - RECORDINGS AVAILABLE

CLICK HERE

DEALING WITH CHALLENGING PATRONS - UNLIMITED STAFF TRAINING VIDEO

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.

PURCHASE HERE

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

Additionally:

"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."

WEBINARS

BLOG POSTS