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.


March 7, 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

You may have seen the police come into your library, or have responded from their desk inside the library, and have not been pleased with their methods. It's also possible that you have seen the police respond to incidents, ranging from a serious, life-threatening situation to a low-risk call for their services, and have been happy with the results. As a taxpayer and an employee, you have every right to question the methods of how police do their work. Are they being fair, legal, ethical, safe? Are they treating people who are out of control with empathy, and not taking things personally? Do they make arrests with the least amount of force necessary, to keep the arrestee, themselves, and the public on the scene, as safe as possible? The old saying, "No one hates a bad cop more than a good cop," has never been more relevant than today.

Most people get what they know about cops and their methods from TV shows and movies - which are not always the most historically accurate resources, to be sure. Perhaps it would help your understanding of how the police function, both in your library and in your community, by getting a better sense of their work culture?   

Every profession has a collection of behaviors that contribute to its workplace culture. Some of these are learned by new employees as they start the job, just by what they observe. Others are taught to new employees by longtime employees, who say, "Here's how we really get things done around here." Some workplace cultural norms are defined in the policies and procedures manual; others are expressly trained to all employees by the leadership team (or through the company or agency lawyers). 

Some workplace cultural traditions are deeply ingrained, going back decades, to when the business or profession was first founded. (Librarians know why a barber pole sign outside the barbershop has red stripes.) 

Some workplace traditions weren't illegal or highly inappropriate "back in the day," but they certainly are now. This includes pranks, hazing, bullying, sabotaging someone's work, sexually or racially-themed attacks, or trying to drive certain people (most often women and minority applicants or employees out of their jobs).

All five military service agencies (Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marines) have long-standing traditions. (The Space Force is too new to have any.) Some of these come with rituals, rites, and elaborate ceremonies. (Your Homework Assignment: Ask any current or former Navy sailor what event took place when he or she crossed the Equator at sea for the first time.)       

Bankers have a workplace culture, as do truck drivers, airline pilots, lawyers, hairstylists, and even librarians. They all use jargon, slang, and coded language unique to their professions, as a way of communicating quickly and effectively amongst each other.

Now imagine that your work culture told you from Day One on the job, that, "You could be killed while trying to protect the people you serve. Cops die in spectacularly bad ways, every day, mostly in shootings and car crashes. By the way, welcome to the Police Academy." This is what happens, even today. Besides a military basic training/boot camp experience, I can think of no other profession that indoctrinates its new members this way. Officers and deputies are taught constantly to think about “Officer Survival” and that “Hands Kill” on every call they go on or every stop they make. 

Consider how that influences their interactions with people, most of whom are not posing a threat to them. "Because of our uniforms and badges, everyone already knows who we are and why we are there. We usually know almost nothing about the people we encounter while doing this job." This creates a mindset that affects how they work.

On that happy note, consider this list of factors that make up the police culture:

  • It's a calling, not just a career or a job.
  • A male-based work environment; women have to work much harder to be accepted.
  • Some hazing of probationary employees. (Much more happens in the fire department culture.)
  • Paramilitary structure, with military-influenced job titles.
  • Pride, bordering on arrogance, about their chosen career.
  • Fearful of losing face in front of the public, which leads to the need for constant fear control at scenes.
  • 24-hour business means a 24-hour lifestyle (work, sleep, go back to work, respond to calls, discuss work, repeat). 
  • Highly-specialized career; highly-screened applicants; takes a long time to get hired; lengthy Academy and first-year probationary employee training process.
  • Alcohol-centered culture.
  • High suicide rate. (More cops kill themselves each year - 160 to 180 - than are killed in the line of duty - 125 to 150.) 
  • "Five-year disease" by new employees who get too salty, too soon.
  • Injuries are a part of the job.
  • Potential to witness death or be killed on the job, or see co-workers injured or killed.
  • Close friendships and work relationships, that can last for life.
  • Lone Wolf workers; much of their work takes place alone.
  • Peer support, unless you make an unforgivable tactical mistake.
  • Wary of senior leadership. Everyone above the rank of Lieutenant no longer remembers what it's like to do "real police work."
  • Distrust of the need for getting clinical help, and most clinicians, for depression, suicidal thoughts, PTSD, or marriage counseling.  
  • Need to "pay your dues first" before you can act like a veteran.
  • More community suspicion and fear, when compared to firefighters, who are usually much more beloved.

None of the above ever excuses the behavior of unprofessional, rude, dismissive, poorly trained, or dangerous officers who arrive at your library. If you're not getting good service from them at your library, it's time to call the Watch Commander and have a conversation about what happened and how it needs to be better. 

But, if you are truly empathic about the needs of your patrons, can you also be just as empathic toward the police officers or sheriff's deputies who come to your library, with the primary intent of protecting (themselves and you) and serving (you and the patrons)? A little understanding of how their culture orients their worldview can help you understand why they do what they do.

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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.