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

Certain employees at the library, who are ever-vigilant for all things behaviorally-oriented, can become the self-appointed “champions” of the facility. They monitor every conversation they can hear (or sometimes only what they can see and not actually hear) between employees or between employees and patrons. They are keen to determine that bullying, sexual or racial harassment, sexism or racism, homophobia or transphobia, inappropriate jokes, non-consensual flirting between adults, or other forms of a “hostile work environment” are taking place and therefore, they must tell management immediately.

They wear out a path to the supervisor’s office or they skip the boss and go right to the Personnel or Human Resources office, (where they often have an engraved chair). They corner every supervisor, manager, and director and rant about unfair treatment by or to their co-workers and how management at every level is “allowing” this to take place without caring.

This sounds like noble work but here’s the problem: what they hear or see is not any of those things; it’s just employees talking with each other or with patrons and being in complete control of the content, impact, and tone of their conversations. They know not to cross boundary lines with each other and violate our basic workplace treatment policies. But the “champions” don’t see this; they see injustice everywhere at work and it’s their job to report it. 

Here’s the ironic part: while the “champions” are great observers of others, they are not good employees. They don’t work hard and are careless with their attendance, productivity, and efforts. They aren’t reliable on projects and when they get reminded of missing deadlines or turning in poor quality work, they howl that they are being “harassed” because they have been a whistleblower on all the foul deeds that are going on in the library environment.

Supervisors of the “champions” have to walk a delicate balance when confronting their poor performance and lackluster work efforts. Any counseling memo or performance improvement plan is met with protests, not acceptance of the undeniable fact that they need to work harder and better. In their minds, because they believe they have blown the whistle on the multitude of workplace communication sins, their supervisors must be retaliating against them. The “champion” loves to start every coaching meeting with, “Do I need to call my union rep?”

So what’s the solution? How do you manage entitled and poor-performing “champions”? How do you get past the distraction techniques they use to deny their ineptitude in the office or on the library floor? How do you talk to them about their attitudes, without thinking you’re going to get sued after every conversation?

Managing the “champion” requires management courage. We define this skill as both the ability and recognized urgency to have the necessary crucial conversations about work performance and/or their work behavior with the “champions.”

Courageous library supervisors will say: “I’m sorry what you heard or saw seemed offensive to you. I disagree that it violates our harassment or hostile workplace policies. I am careful, as is this agency, to evaluate the behavior and performance of every employee and look at the interactions with our patrons. I pay attention to our interactions here. Know that when I say I will step in and set boundaries, make changes, or enforce consequences, I will, with employees and patrons. Not everything that goes on here is related or aimed directly or indirectly at you. I want you to focus on your assignments and stop worrying about everyone else. As your boss, I have the right to evaluate your work performance. It’s not personal; it’s coaching. We are going to have work performance conversations when I believe it’s necessary. Please go back to work.”

The tool of choice for the courageous manager is coaching. We define coaching as a non-disciplinary, performance, or behavior-changing conversation. Courageous library supervisors will initiate as many coaching conversations as necessary, until they don’t see any changes, which is when they know to switch to progressive discipline.   

Dealing with the “champion” using coaching can be paradoxical. Courageous supervisors know they will have to spend more time with the “champion,” not less. “Champions” will require more goal-setting and more interactions with supervisors, not less, even though there is a tendency for most bosses to want to avoid them.

The library supervisor who stands his or her ground can fight the “champion’s” poor performance, disruptive behavior, and entitled attitude with consequences, coaching, and courage.

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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.