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

In 1985, my father, Dr. Karl Albrecht, wrote Service America!: Doing Business in the New Economy, the first big book on customer service. He described service excellence as a "managed event," meaning it was something that business leaders, managers, and supervisors should carefully consider and focus on with their employees. "Good service is no accident," was a primary theme of his book. He talked about having the right three things in place: service strategies (the direction), service systems (the methods, approaches, and policies), and service people (the right employees, with the right attitude, training, and motivation to serve others). He referred to this as the Service Triangle and it still works today.

Part of his efforts to train frontline service employees was to create the Code of Quality Service, a set of 10 behaviors that can provide a path to service excellence, both personally and professionally.

This set of 10 can be useful as a reminder for you as a library service professional and as a set of training guidelines for managers and supervisors. It works as a refresher for longtime library employees and as an orientation tool for new employees, as to what our library service culture should look like. Most of these 10 are operational and not abstract, meaning you can put them to use right away.

1. Greet each patron immediately or when passing by.

This concept is about both politeness and safety. We want to see patrons as they enter the library and pay attention to them as they move through the facility. Respectful eye contact can help us all make a human connection. We can all benefit from looking more at people and less at screens.

2. Give each patron you contact your complete attention.

It's easy to get caught up or distracted in the work we need to do. What we call "multi-tasking" on the patrons' behalf is actually "split attention" or "being distracted." It's a simple step just to tell patrons, anytime you need to do a part of your job that requires you to disengage from them. "I'll just need a quick moment to step over to the computer and take a look at your record" or "Let me go and ask one of my co-workers about that and I'll come right back to you." Those types of statements are enough to buy you the time to do your job and serve them well.

3. Make the first 30 seconds count.

This concept is related to #9 as well. Patrons remember how they were treated by recalling the beginning and the end of the service encounter. You may only have a brief interaction with a patron but he or she will remember your approachability, tone, and helpfulness.

4. Play your part to be real, not phony or bored.

If you have a high human-contact job, with a lot of the same transactions that don't require a lot of creativity to get them done, it's easy to get tired, burned out, and become what Karl calls a "BoZo" or a "Bored Zombie." Change what you say and how you say it with each patron. Don't get robotic in your answers, greetings, or wrap-ups. We've all dealt with service people who say, "Have a nice day - NEXT!" and don't really mean it.

5. Show your energy with sincere friendliness.

Whether you're talking over the phone, over the counter, or in the stacks, know that you're being viewed as a representative of the library. Patrons don't care about job titles or how long you've been there; they want service from someone who is truly friendly, not faking it, and who has the type of enthusiasm that says they care about their jobs and about helping people, at the start of the workday and at the end of it.

6. Be the patron's problem-solver.

Own the patron's issue until you can solve it or get it over to a colleague or boss who can. This step is all about not brushing off our patrons, but taking ownership for that brief moment or long period when you're helping them. Be creative, within the limits of our policies, and solve the presenting problem the best way you can, the first time.

7. Use your common sense.

We've all been in service situations where the person on the other side of the counter or on the other end of the phone has not been authorized to think. This person could come up with a smart solution but just won't. You get paid to think and work on behalf of our patrons. Do the right thing for them, using a common-sense sensibility.

8. Bend the rules when the situation calls for it.

Don't give away the store, but if you can solve the patron's problem or fix the issue by using creative, empathic solutions, do so. If you can waive a fee or a fine and it makes sense, get permission from your boss and do it. Don't always get stuck in the fine print of the policy manual or the Code of Conduct. Don't say to the patron, "Well, I'm just doing my job by saying no to you." Know the difference between the "letter of the law" and the "spirit of the law." Like with Number 6, be the patron's advocate if you can.

9. Make the last 30 seconds count.

Like with Number 3, the end of your service encounter with patrons can make a big difference in how they see their library experience. Thank your patrons for coming in, or for being patient while you worked on their behalf. Even if they don't thank you back, thank them anyway.

10. Take good care of yourself.

Service jobs are challenging and tiring. Don't get burned out. Take your breaks and lunches, use your vacation days and floating holidays. Pace yourself throughout your workday. Get more sleep, get some exercise, and catch up on your reading or other hobbies as a way to stay fresh and focused. Help yourself have a long and healthy career in library service.

Karl Albrecht's Code of Quality Service offers ten easy and practical steps toward improving and sustaining your own brand of service excellence.

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  • #1 is a great rule. I enjoy when walking in a building/store and just being noticed with a greeting. Nothing worse than being ignored or the feeling of being ignored.

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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.