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.


May 9th, 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.

When I teach my workplace violence prevention program for my range of public or private-sector clients, one of the things we discuss is the value and importance of paying better attention to who comes into our buildings and why. If real estate is all about location, location, location, then keeping employees safe at work is all about access control, access control, access control.

One of the examples I use in training to illustrate how things aren't always what they seem when it comes to vendors is a slide featuring a photo of a brown UPS uniform shirt, pants, and socks. The group identifies the uniform as belonging to and worn by every UPS driver they've ever seen. I then tell them I took that picture because I bought that same uniform at a thrift store. The training participants are quite surprised to hear there is no national restriction on buying any kind of uniform. You can buy medical scrubs, military camos, and even patches for a police uniform.

I complicate the UPS uniform scenario even more by asking, "Do you think I could wear this uniform and walk into almost any business pushing a hand truck and breeze right past the receptionist or security guard? Could I get into almost any business dressed this way and no one would ever think to ask me to show my UPS employee ID card? Have you ever even seen a UPS driver wearing an ID card? I've seen FedEx drivers wearing them around their necks, but I can't recall ever having seen a UPS ID."

One of my gym partners works as a UPS driver and he has no specific route. Because he has only been with them for a few years, he doesn't have much seniority and still works as a relief driver. That means he covers for other drivers who are on vacation or sick. He drives a different route nearly every day or the same one for only a week or two at a time. I asked him, since he is not the usual driver for businesses who are used to seeing their same driver nearly every day, does anyone ever ask him to identify himself? No, not once ever, he says. Everyone just waves and goes about their business as he goes about his. He rolls his hand truck into their back rooms and does his pick up and delivery thing.

Could someone wearing an "official-looking uniform" walk into your library, go back into the employees-only area, and gain access to expensive, valuable, financial, proprietary, or protected items? As a Security Guy, this is the kind of thing that keeps me up all night, worrying.

There are certain people we invite to use the public entrance side of our library, mainly patrons. Certain people also use the private entrance side of our library, mainly employees. Then there are those who we permit to come from the public side to the private side. This includes regular vendors - book deliveries, copy machine repairs, the good folks who refill the soda and snack machines in our break room, FedEx/UPS drivers, janitorial services, and the like. We may have irregular vendors, like maintenance or repair workers, plumbers, electricians, carpet cleaners, etc. And we may have visitors who are employees of our city or county, if we are connected to a city or town and not an independent, stand-alone library system. This could include everyone from Public Works employees, Facilities employees, IT employees, couriers from our Finance Office, and regularly-scheduled delivery people who work for the same entity as we do.

We could have visits from elected or appointed officials from our own community or neighboring cities or towns; our city attorneys, county counsels, town attorneys, district attorneys, and similar legal people; and we could have visitors from our Friends of the Library or Library Board members.

On the public side, it's quite common for Library Directors or their deputies or department heads to have meetings with patrons. Most of these meetings are cordial and problem-free; some are hostile and volatile, based on the high degree of emotionality the patron brings into the meeting room. During one of these confrontational meetings, where the patron starts shouting and won't lower his or her voice or end the meeting and leave the room, I'm certain every director has had that sinking feeling inside where he or she thinks, "I should have met this person out in the library, not here on the second floor, way back in the back of the building, where what's happening in my office right now is not heard by anyone."

All this speaks to the need for a Vendor/Visitor Control Policy. We don't need to have every person sign a Visitor Log, but we do need to quickly and effectively screen everyone who comes in wanting to do work, have a meeting, or otherwise go "behind the curtain," from the frontstage part of our business and building to the backstage parts.

Here are our Vendor/Visitor Rules of Thumb:

  • Ask all City/County employees (including all library employees) to wear their visible photo ID while inside your building. This helps to tell employees and patrons who is who.
  • All regular delivery people need to be acknowledged and recognized by at least one library employee, who knows them from frequent contact and can send them into the back. In other words, someone should quickly vouch for them with a hello or a head nod. No vendor should breeze right past and go into our back areas without being seen by at least one library employee.
  • No one-time vendors or vendors who come to the facility on an irregular basis should be allowed to enter the back offices or be left alone in those areas without an employee escort. If they need to wait before they can do their work, ask them to wait on the public side of the facility. (Some "salespeople" are not always who they seem, so better safe than sorry.)
  • Any visitors - including other City/County employees, patrons, elected/appointed officials - should be asked, in a polite and matter of fact way, to sign our Visitors Clipboard. This clipboard should include their name, title, the person they want to see, and when they arrived and left. Since it has been nearly 20 years since the 9-11 attacks, this should not be a burden to most people, since it is done routinely at many other professional and governmental buildings.
  • All visitors need to be walked back to inner office appointments by a reception staff member, library staffer, or met at the transition door (between our public side and our private side) by the person who has the appointment with them.
  • Train and remind all library staffers not to bring angry or unstable patrons back to meet with senior leaders. Have them either call the back office to have the supervisors, managers, deputies or assistant directors, or director come out and meet the person, or preferably, to set an appointment to meet the next day. Time heals a lot of anger and the patron who is irrational and unreasonable today might be much more agreeable 24 hours from now.
  • Staff members should brief their bosses as to the issue that the patron wants to meet about and give an assessment of his or her levels of anger and cooperation. Any concerns about volatility, now or the next day, should mean that the library leader meets with the patron on the public side of the library and not in his or her office, or even only over the phone.
  • When meeting with really angry patrons, have a colleague participate in the meeting as well, for "safety in numbers" reasons, and to witness the discussion.
  • The time to think about creating or updating your Vendor/Visitor Policy is before you have an incident that tells you what you should have done.
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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.