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

Of all the tough topics on the library table today, few carry more weight than the relationship between your facility and when, how, or even if law enforcement officers should respond to issues, events, or problems inside. On the news and on social media, only the choice for president and race relations get more discussion and the role and duties of the police in our communities play a part in each of those conversations as well.  

We need to create a new way forward, to build a different relationship with law enforcement, and ask them to provide trustworthy, fair, ethical, and safe services to our staff, patrons, and citizens.

Last month, I presented a Library 2.0 webinar on the changing nature of the police response to libraries. I talked about my background in law enforcement, my security consulting and training for libraries, the police culture (especially as it relates to their fears of being killed on the job), and some ways libraries can use other resources instead of calling the police for security problems inside or around the buildings. It was intended to be the start of a longer conversation that will have to take place between libraries and law enforcement (not just library people and me). I’m not the provider of all the answers, only the conversation starter. My intention was to give the webinar participants the backdrop on the police culture, so they could speak with their cops and understand why they think and act as they do.

What follows is two lists – one where your library will still need a response by police officers or sheriff’s deputies – even if you have armed or unarmed security officers in your library – and one where it’s probably not necessary to call the police. Your customization of both lists will be required, as you think and go forward on this issue. 

Situations at the Library Where You Will Need a Police Response

An active shooter, mass murder, mass attack event.

A person armed with a deadly weapon, threatening or robbing others.

A fight between two armed patrons.

The sexual assault of a patron, child, or employee.

The attempted or actual kidnapping of a child or an adult.

Finding a gun or a large quantity of drugs in the library.

A violent confrontation between rival gang members.

A domestic violence incident, with injuries.

A hostage or barricaded subject situation, which will become a SWAT call.

Person(s) trying to steal expensive items or equipment from the library or patrons.

Violent crimes happening in the parking lot.

A bomb threat? (Only if you find a suspicious device.)

Indecent exposure by a patron; a patron in possession of child pornography.

Violation of Temporary Restraining Order (TRO), for a banned patron or a fearful patron or an employee with a domestic violence issue.

Situations Where You Might Not Need a Police Response

Petty theft of library or a patron’s property. (The police may not respond anyway, due to staffing shortages. It may only become a telephone report response.)

Mentally ill or drunk/on drugs patron. (Staff uses Dr. Steve Albrecht’s many high-stress communication tools, plus their own experience and training to get the person to cooperate and leave.) 

Patrons arguing with each other. (Same as above.)

A loud, eccentric, rude, disturbing patron. (Same as above, above.)

A drug overdose event. (Paramedics will be needed, not cops.)

A crime case where the victim says he or she will not cooperate with them. (Sometimes people handle things their own ways.)

A small quantity of found marijuana, drug paraphernalia, or needles. (Have trained library staff or maintenance staff wear safety equipment and safely dispose of this stuff.) 

Vicious dog? (Call Animal Control.)

Students fighting (no injuries); truancy issues; child abuse (Call CPS / APS directly to report).

Patron gets property stolen or car hit. (They can call the police and meet them outside if they want.)

Next Steps

These two lists are not complete, of course. You and your library leaders and staffers may have many other thoughts as to when the police are needed and when they aren’t. Sometimes the arrival of the police makes things instantly better: by lowering the emotional temperature; preserving the peace; calming the angry or hysterical; or enforcing consequences that solve the problem and prevent a reoccurrence. Sometimes the police show up and make things instantly worse: using physical force too soon, wrongly, or ineffectively; scaring or embarrassing people into acting irrationally; or just not having the proper training, experience, and wisdom about how to best encounter, manage, and help people who are not being their best.      

We need a new way forward. We will always need the police, but not always. We need to use other resources and call the police when there are clear signs of impending danger, violence, or injury. Your best next steps are these: 

  • Determine your new criteria for a police response to your libraries. This will need to happen on a branch-by-branch basis. Based on the number and type of security incident reports, some libraries will have more safety issues that may require a more frequent police response than others.

  • Discuss the current and expected police responses with your leadership team and employees, to get their feedback. Weigh the current realities you face in each branch, without getting caught up in the emotionality of this issue. Stick to the data. Create a balanced sense of agreement with your staff as to when to call the police and when to use other resources.

  • Develop other resources related to security interventions, how to help patrons facing, mental health, drug/alcohol, and homelessness issues, and Think Outside the Box as you do.

  • Meet with the leadership (preferably lieutenants and above) of your primary law enforcement agency – City Police Department or County Sheriff’s Office – and discuss your needs and their services. Create better boundaries for their responses and hear what they plan to do differently on your behalf.
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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.