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.


June 13, 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 number of fatal overdoses due to opiate use (heroin, fentanyl, pain pills) continues to surge in the US, as does the record amounts of fentanyl powder and pills seized at the southern border. A recent arrest in Arizona revealed the driver was transporting 340 packages of fentanyl pills, weighing 187 pounds, and worth an estimated $4.3 million. (A fatal dose - injected, swallowed, or inhaled - can be as small as a dozen grains of sand.)

A news release from the Biden White House on August 26, 2022 echoes this grim tale: 

“As the overdose epidemic has evolved, synthetic opioids – particularly illicitly manufactured fentanyl — now drive the majority of overdose deaths. In 2021, more than 100,000 people died from an overdose, an approximate 15 percent increase from the previous year. Every loss is a painful reminder that, now more than ever, we must address our Nation’s overdose epidemic.”

The number of overdoses leading to death averages about 275 people per day. The majority of these people are young and many are POC. According to a CDC report: 

“Drug overdose data show troubling trends and widening disparities between different population groups. In just one year, overdose death rates (number of drug overdose deaths per 100,000 people) increased 44% for Black people and 39% for American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) people. Most people who died by overdose had no evidence of substance use treatment before their deaths. In fact, a lower proportion of people from racial and ethnic minority groups received treatment, compared with White people. Some conditions in the places where people live, work, and play can widen these disparities. For instance, areas with greater income inequality—a larger income gap between the rich and the poor—have higher rates of overdose deaths. Comprehensive, community-based prevention and response efforts should incorporate proven, culturally responsive actions that address disparities in drug overdose deaths and the inequities that contribute to them.” (https://bit.ly/3BmNvaG)

Since libraries are public places, the likelihood of opiate drug users coming to the facility to either use drugs, buy or sell drugs, or rest while under the influence, means that the possibility of a medical emergency due to their overdose is a reality.

A patron who appears to be “just sleeping” could really be in respiratory failure and on the way to passing out. It’s important for all library employees to recognizer the warning signs of a possible overdose. The person may:

  • appear “asleep on his/her feet” (known as “opiate narcosis”);
  • stand and sway, having trouble with balance and coordination;
  • have problems breathing or stop breathing (and a low pulse);
  • have slurred or low speech, with a raspy voice;
  • have trouble swallowing;
  • have cold, clammy skin;
  • have blue lips or nails or hands/feet;
  • have a noticeable nasal drip;
  • show excessive scratching;
  • have pin dot/very small pupils;
  • actually pass out and fall forward in a chair (which constricts their breathing even more) or onto the ground.

Anytime a person starts to or actually loses consciousness, it’s a real medical emergency that requires you or other staffers to call 9-1-1 and get paramedics en route. If they suspect an opiate overdose, they will give the person a nasal spray injection (or less commonly, a thigh injection using a small needle) of Narcan (naloxone). They may also begin CPR or rescue breathing to help the person survive. Narcan works in one to two minutes and last for about 90 minutes, long enough to get the person to the hospital for further treatment. If the person is not under the influence of an opiate, the Narcan spray or shot will have no effect. It’s an opiate antagonist, meaning it seeks out opiate molecules to destroy them. No opiates on board; no harm to the person.

While no one needs an “official Narcan training program certification” to give Narcan, it can help to watch many of the training videos on YouTube that describe the process when someone is down on the ground and in what looks like an opiate overdose emergency. The official site for Narcan - www.narcan.com - is a good place to start for more information. (Their “Peel - Place - Press” instructions can walk you through the process of safe and effective Narcan nasal spray use.)

Many state health agencies and local county health departments offer online training and advice about opiate overdoses. All 50 states allow people to buy Narcan at their local pharmacy, without a prescription. Many people who have family members, loved ones, or partners who are opiate users, now buy and carry Narcan for that “just in case moment.”
While no library employee should be required to give first aid and/or administer Narcan to an overdosing patron, two facts make their move to voluntarily get involved more likely: 1) there are good faith/Good Samaritan laws in all 50 States, meaning you cannot be sued or faulted for trying to save a life, as long as you acted reasonably; and 2) no one wants to have a patron die in their library from drug use.

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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.