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.

UPCOMING EVENTS

BLOG POSTS

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.

[A shorter version of this essay ran as an op-ed in the February 2, 2024 online edition of The Seattle Times. Click here for the link to that version. https://shorturl.at/txFKW. See also "U.S. Department of Education Issues New Resource for School Administrators on Importance of Safe Firearm Storage" - Campus Safety]

I have spent the past 32 years of my life and career trying to keep people safe from violence in the workplace, in our K-12 schools, colleges, and universities; in healthcare facilities; and in city and county government agencies that serve taxpayers (including libraries and utilities). I have worked diligently to educate public and private sector employees about the real dangers of domestic violence, especially when it crosses over from home to work. 

I have interviewed three workplace violence murderers in prison, something no other author I know of has done. Their primary motive for what they did (killing a total of 12 people) was simple: they wanted revenge. We can limit that possibility based on how we treat people, as co-workers, employees, students, ratepayers, patients, and people receiving services from organizations. That’s why so many of my library security workshops talk about the real value of empathy, patience, and listening skills, even when the other person isn’t cooperating very much.

I have trained dozens of K-12 school districts and hundreds of school employees in school violence prevention approaches, including helping with the creation of District-wide Threat Assessment Teams (TATs).

If I had just one wish, where I could snap my fingers and make it happen instantly to prevent school shootings, it would not be about anti-bullying campaigns (which range in success from a lot to not at all); or more School Resource Officers (hard to do today with such low staffing in law enforcement agencies); or better physical security at our schools (the locked, staffed “closed campus” model works best, especially as students enter and leave). No, those aren’t my primary concerns.

If I could make it happen, I would demand that every single parent who has a kid at a K-12 school and who owns a gun in their home stores it safely. 

Even a quick review of the over 344 school shootings in 2023 (a stunning number, as collected by the K-12 School Shootings Database at https://k12ssdb.org) paints the terrible picture clearly: The majority of K-12 school shooting perpetrators under the age of 18 get the guns they use from their homes.

As a library security consultant and trainer since 2000, I’m reminded of the Clovis, NM library shooting on August 28, 2017, that took the lives of two female library employees and wounded four others, including a 10-year-old boy. The shooter, 16-year-old Nathan Jouett, had originally intended to go to Clovis High School where he had been bullied, to shoot students there. He went into the library first, to use the bathroom, then came out and shot six people. He got the gun from home, from his father’s unlocked gun safe. (Yes, I put those words in bold for emphasis.) 

I researched the Jouett case extensively, talking with the plaintiff’s lawyer who sued the young man’s therapist and father for negligence, reviewing the court transcripts, reading the depositions of the court-appointed child psychiatrist, and even Jouett’s prison deposition. The ease with which he acquired the gun and ammunition is stunning.

Guns in a gun shop are expensive and only available to people over a certain age, and in some states, after a background check. Many homes (too many homes) have unsecured handguns, rifles, and shotguns, sitting in closets, clothing drawers, nightstands, desks, and boxes in garages. Too many parents (most often the men) mistakenly believe, “My kid knows not to go into my sock drawer and open that box marked `Glock’.” 

This is foolish, wishful thinking, proven tragically wrong when that kid gets an unsecured handgun, rifle, or shotgun from his or her own home and takes it to school, either with murderous intent or to scare away the students who have bullied him or her.

Think that can’t happen with a pre-teen? From a January 6, 2023 NBC News online story: “The 6-year-old boy who seriously wounded his teacher at a Virginia elementary school in January said in the aftermath that `I did it’ and `I got my mom's gun last night,’ according to newly unsealed court documents.” (https://tinyurl.com/ykr8sske)

In the aftermath of these tragedies, the parents are “in shock” as to what happened and why it did, and “saddened and surprised” that their own child used a gun from their home to commit these acts. “We thought they were locked up and that he or she didn’t have access. We never thought that in a million years this could ever happen…” The excuses are just that - excuses for failing to be vigilant, every single day that they own and store one or more firearms in their homes. 

So how can local libraries and even more so - school libraries - help stop this? By committing to a national campaign, in partnership with their nearby school districts, to put parents on notice that they have a legal, moral, and ethical duty to safely lock up every firearm type in their homes. And equally important, to give parents easy, inexpensive, and readily available safe gun storage solutions.

Posters at the school and campus-wide announcements aren’t enough. This effort will require our K-12 school districts to bring parents together, through on-campus meetings and even Zoom sessions, to educate them firmly and directly, that they must store their firearms.

Trigger locks (usually a cable with a key lock) are cheap to buy and easy to distribute to parents. How about asking the local gun safe vendors in our communities to provide reduced-rate gun safes (after getting a good-faith discount from their manufacturers)? You don’t need to buy a 600-pound gun safe, when a lockable gun box will do. Can we ask local gun shops and gun ranges to agree to provide as many free or inexpensive gun storage solutions as they can, as part of a gesture of goodwill to the entire community? 

How about asking our local law enforcement agencies to partner with our schools, school libraries, and city or county libraries to speak on campus and at specific library programs about this issue? “Attention Parents! Here is the problem: kids are stealing guns from home to use in shootings, often at their schools or in the streets, and often against other children. Your child could be a victim and if you don’t secure your firearms, your child may decide to be the shooter. Here are some free solutions you can get at the library, at the school district office, or your child’s school campus, right now, today: trigger locks, small gun safes, and lockable gun boxes. Please go home and protect your firearms, your children, our schools, and our communities.”

After three decades of trying to solve workplace violence and school violence problems, I’m weary from my efforts, which sometimes feel in vain. It’s time to ask our local libraries, school libraries, school districts, and local law enforcement agencies to come together and offer real, physical solutions that stop this issue of too-easy gun access in its tracks.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu said it so well, “There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they're falling in.” 

Kids are getting unsecured guns from their homes to use to shoot others and themselves. The solution is upstream but it’s not too far away to make it happen.

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  • Dr. Steve, I hear the weariness in your blog, but please continue to teach and advocate for workplace safety for libraries and schools. I've been a Library Supervisor for years and have spent 33 years myself in the library. I've had to deal with many security situations, and until I started following you, I felt very uncertain how to handle most of them.

    To further your message today, I have this to share. As a child, I knew EXACTLY where my dad's gun was and where the ammunition was stored. I handled it numerous times when no one was home. When I was older and told him I had known its hiding place, dad was shocked. It was dangerous and foolish of me, and reckless of my father. My dad trusted me, but he shouldn't have. I could easily have taken it. That was 40+ years ago. Flash forward a couple decades. I thought I was smarter, locking mine in a safe. My kids (adult now) tell me they found mine too, in the safe. I believe in double-locking, so the weapons were dissassembled and/or had gun locks on them in the safe. The point is, that gun owners know better. Hearing it from their school may be the tipping point that pricks their conscience and makes them take responsibility.

  • Libraries can now participate in Project Childsafe, giving out free gun locks. We joined but haven't had a lot of takers, but maybe we could put signs up at the local gun stores. https://projectchildsafe.org/

    Homepage – Project Childsafe
    Project ChildSafe is a program of the National Shooting Sports Foundation to promote firearms safety and education.
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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

Additionally:

"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."

WEBINARS

PODCASTS

BLOG POSTS

DEALING WITH CHALLENGING PATRONS - UNLIMITED STAFF TRAINING VIDEO

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.

PURCHASE HERE