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

Normal people either park their cars in the library parking lot or pass through it walking on their way to the building. Scary people use the library parking lot for more dangerous, illegal, or threatening reasons.

As the operators of the library building, we also have an extended legal duty to care for the appearance and safety of the parking lot and must pay attention to what goes on there. That doesn't mean you have to move your desk to the parking lot and sit watching what happens, but since the parking lot is the place where our "invitees" (our patrons, customers, vendors, and visitors) make their access to our building, we can't ignore what goes on out there.

There is a concept in the law known as "foreseeability" and while I'm not a lawyer and I'm not here to give you legal advice, the definition is important to us. Foreseeability means "a reasonable anticipation of the possible results of an action, such as what may happen if one is negligent."

In civil cases, this often means you "knew or should have known" something bad, dangerous, or injurious could happen or will happen. Yes, this means we have to be able to predict the future, especially if one or more accidents or incidents would lead a "reasonable person" (and that phrase pops up a lot in court) to believe a crime or an accident could, would, or did happen based on the conditions in the area.

In other words, if there have been a lot of robberies in your library parking lot over several years and a patron is robbed and injured, he or she can sue us (often successfully) by saying we had prior notice of these dangerous events going on and we did nothing to mitigate that risk.

Mitigating the risk of a robbery would mean we have regular patrols by our security officers and local police; we would install bright exterior lights, signs, and cameras.

Of course, installing those anti-robbery measures will not guarantee a parking lot robbery won't happen, but it makes our position much easier to defend in civil court if it does. This goes back to the theme that we recognized problems, took the best steps we could to prevent them, and try to run our business operations by minimizing the likelihood that they could occur.

So that said, what impression do you get when you drive in and park and walk to the building, especially if you were a first-time visitor to the parking lot? Does it feel safe, inviting, clean, where a crime is highly unlikely based on the design and who uses the space? Or does it feel unsafe, dark, dirty, and the area has a history of criminal activity attached to it?

One way to know what is going on in your neighborhood is to do an online search for crimes in your neighborhood, or if your Police or Sheriff's Department has a Crime Prevention Unit, the civilian staff can provide crime history reports for your specific address in particular and for your zip code in general. The results - ranging from "We're doing well here" to "Uh oh" - may surprise you.

The list of potential parking lot safety and security issues is surprisingly long (but not to me, who has seen all of these things outside the library windows):

  • car break-ins
  • car thefts
  • car vandalism
  • gasoline thefts
  • building vandalism
  • drunks and drug-users hanging around
  • drug sales
  • drug overdoses
  • medical emergencies
  • loud music from loiterers or cars with the windows down
  • littering, trash, broken bottles, used syringes, graffiti on the asphalt, fences, windows, and buildings
  • robberies and muggings
  • sex crimes, sexual assaults, indecent exposure
  • using the parking lot as a public bathroom
  • carjackings
  • assaults, fights
  • noisy arguments and long-running disputes
  • gang activity, fights with rival gangs
  • teenagers harassing patrons and bullying other kids
  • drive-by or run-by purse snatchings
  • loitering and congregating to intimidate patrons from using the library
  • domestic violence-related fights, assaults
  • child-custody disputes during court-ordered dropoffs
  • hit and run drivers
  • car accidents
  • car vs pedestrian accidents
  • theft of water or electricity from the library
  • theft of sprinkler heads, copper pipe, or copper wire
  • sleeping in cars during the day and camping overnight
  • trespassing through the lot after being banned from the library
  • crime casers, preparing to do something


That is a long list of potential problems. A small number of these issues can be addressed with the right signage, lighting, cameras, and employee vigilance. Most of them will need to be handled by library security officers (if you have them), working with the local police or sheriff. Your local officers or deputies should certainly be proactive to address a lot of these behaviors before they turn into crimes. The aftermath of the crimes will require a law enforcement response.

In Part 2 of this discussion, I'll talk about the best, safest, and most cost-effective ways we can address this list of possible or potential parking lot perils.

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  • Since partially reopening in June, our services mainly include curbside pickup of held material and hourly computer appointments for patrons.  Staff mans a table outside the front door of the building for walk-up holds service & some browsing of shelves we move outside daily, and of course, we walk across the parking lot to deposit books in trunks or backseats of vehicles.  Given that we're spending so much more time on the parking lot and all of our patrons are either on the lot or the sidewalk, it would seem our need for parking lot security is greater.  Paradoxically, we have no security officers at this time.  Appreciate you addressing these concerns & looking forward to Part 2 of this discussion for how to increase our safety.  Thanks for all of the great information & help you always share.


  • Great information,  We deal with many of these issues. 

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.

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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.