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.



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

As a longtime HR trainer (uh, that would be me) once said in a daylong team-building training program, “When it comes to your bosses or your co-workers, you don’t have to love everyone you work with. You don’t have to like everyone you work with. We aren’t asking you to socialize after work with anyone you work with. We are asking you to get along, to tolerate each other, in the time and space we provide here. Our customers expect it, our organizational leaders expect it, and you should expect and demonstrate cooperative, supportive treatment by and from each other.”

This is, of course, easy to say and hard to do. For many reasons, personalities collide in the workplace and people can grow to despise each other. In my experience, this most often occurs in two distinct ways. It can start from the get-go, where two employees take an instant dislike to each other on Day One and it never gets any better. Or, more likely and more common, it builds and builds over time, as each employee shows various eccentricities, quirks, and work or personal habits that irritate the other to the point of frustration.

Also, in my experience, one or both of these employees lack the empathy, patience, maturity, social skills, and most importantly, don’t have the Social Intelligence to get along successfully, even when others around them can overlook the Little Things and work together until quitting time.

Social Intelligence is our collective ability, as collaborative citizens and cooperative employees, to read the room and say or do the right thing in that room (or public space) when engaged with other people. Not saying and not doing the wrong thing are definitely more important than keeping quiet on either. Too many people lack this skill and blurt out things they instantly regret--or regret too much later to do anything other than apologize (which they either don’t do or also aren’t very good at doing).

Since we all have various irritants (again, except me) most employees can overlook them when displayed irregularly or even regularly by their co-workers. But some just cannot--or not without help, encouragement, or commands from their bosses--no matter how much they try. Whether it’s an instant dislike or it festers over time, two employees not getting along in public workspaces is bad for business. What I most often see in these situations is not so much open hostility but the more common “silent treatment,” where the employees will just not engage with each other, ever, beyond saying, “Good morning” and “Good night” and even that is a struggle for them to say with any sincerity.

In the Library World, guess what? Our patrons don’t care if we get along as co-workers or not. They don’t care if there are bad feelings between employees. They just want to come to the library and be served professionally, get the information or help they are looking for, and go home. It is up to each library employee to say or do the right things to get along, both in front of the patrons (who don’t want to see us air our dirty laundry on the floor) and just as important, behind the staff doors as well.

It’s not enough for bosses to ask two warring employees to cooperate and collaborate; there has to be a method used that clears the air first. Below is a process a supervisor or manager can follow when there are two employees who can’t or won’t get along. Bosses need to follow these steps as closely as they can, in order to get real and lasting results. You’ll note this will take several meetings with each employee to be able to identify and iron out their differences. This is not a one and done approach; it takes effort on the part of all three of you.

  1. Meet with the Employee #1 alone. Ask what Employee #2 does to make it hard to get along, communicate, interact, or to work together. Get specific answers, using examples. Don’t let the employee rely on name-calling, labels, non-specific examples, or sweeping generalizations (“She always. . .” or “He never. . .”) about the other employee to make his or her point.
  2. Ask what he or she is willing to do differently to get along with Employee #2.
  3. Bring up the idea of using Ground Rules, which are mutually-created, mutually-agreed-upon do’s and don’ts for both employees. Ask Employee #1 to have some examples of useful Ground Rules ready for your next meeting. (Ground Rules are simple, declarative steps both sides agree to, that will guide their future interactions. Examples: “Return my emails or voice mail messages within 24 hours.” “Don’t put me down in front of patrons.” “Explain the reason why the patron needs help, instead of just dumping him or her on me and walking away.” “Come back from your breaks and lunches on time, so I can take mine.” “Stop criticizing my new ideas in our staff meetings.” “Don’t undermine me in front of our boss.” If they can’t think of any because of the stress of the moment, you’ll need to provide some examples. Be ready to do so.)
  4. Meet with Employee #2 alone. Ask what Employee #1 does to make it hard to get along and work together. Get specific examples.
  5. Ask what he or she is willing to do differently to get along with Employee #1.
  6. Mention what Employee #1 said he or she was willing to do to get along more effectively and then gauge the reactions of Employee #2. Introduce the idea of the need for Ground Rules between the two and ask Employee #2 to have some examples ready by your next meeting.
  7. Meet a second time with Employee #1 and reaffirm the value and validity of the Ground Rules he or she had suggested will help.
  8. Meet a second time with Employee #2 to go over his or her Ground Rules. Explain the Ground Rules offered by Employee #1.
  9. Discuss with Employee #1 and Employee #2 whether they need a final closure meeting, facilitated by you. If so, get them to review the Ground Rules with each other, talking face to face, not just speaking to you. If no final group meeting seems needed, ask for their immediate compliance with the agreed-upon Ground Rules.

This approach uses a guided process designed to keep both employees in their respective comfort zones. Your function is to walk them through a set of problem-identification and problem-solving discussions, to keep them focused on potential solutions - Ground Rules - you can all agree upon. Continue to monitor their ongoing compliance and remind them of their Ground Rules if you see them start to slip back into their former non-cooperative ways.

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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.