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.


December 14th, 2023

January 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

You’ve heard of “New Math?” How about “New Meth”?

Word on the street is that there is a new menace, a more powerful (and even cheaper version) of meth, that is chemically different than the previous meth. It's cheaper and more prevalent than cocaine, and it is the drug of choice of many people living on the streets in squalor, because it makes them feel energized (as opposed to depressed), hyper-aware, hyper-vigilant, and in control of their current situation because all of their neurons are on fire.

This newer version of powdered methamphetamine is either smoked or snorted and can make users unpredictable, confrontational, and all-too-often violent. All library staffers need to recognize the warning signs of what Emergency Room physicians call "meth psychosis." This is a set of irrational and intense behaviors that many chronic meth users will display.

The information about this new type of meth comes from my drug abuse training colleague, Keith Graves, a retired narcotics detective and patrol sergeant from a Northern California police department. Keith holds a unique training certification; he's known as a DRE or a Drug Recognition Expert. He was the Drug Investigator of the Year for the California Narcotics Officers Association (where I'm also a member), so he knows his stuff.

Here are some quotes from a recent blog Keith wrote on his website (www.gravesassociates.com) about the disturbing differences between new meth and old meth.

"You can't even call this methamphetamine anymore. The methamphetamine of today is made differently than it was just a few short years ago. With this change in manufacturing, there was a huge change in the way users reacted to this new meth and now methamphetamine is a major factor in police [contacts]. Simply put, methamphetamine is causing psychosis that is leading to paranoid behavior that leads to deadly interactions with law enforcement. Police [contacts] and methamphetamine go hand in hand. Methamphetamine addicts are often paranoid, suffering from meth psychosis, and can become extremely violent. This makes them a danger to both themselves and to the police officers who are trying to help them. Many times, when police officers are called to a scene where someone is high on methamphetamine, they are met with violence."

Let's begin with a description of what is out on the streets today, by hearing more from Keith:

"Methamphetamine is a powerful and highly addictive stimulant that can be smoked, snorted, or injected. Methamphetamine is now considered a serious public health threat due to its increased popularity and severe reactions to users. The drug is made in illegal labs in Mexico and then transported across the Mexico/US border. Methamphetamine is very potent and can be very addictive. In years past, methamphetamine was made with pseudoephedrine. To stop the manufacture of methamphetamine in the United States, the federal government clamped down on pseudoephedrine by restricting its sale. In a few short years, meth labs all but ceased to exist in the United States.
"However, Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations (Cartels) started to make methamphetamine using phenyl-2-propanone ("P2P"). This is an old-school method of making meth taken from the 1980s. Unfortunately for meth users, this "new" P2P manufacturing method was causing severe psychosis in meth users. When people are high on methamphetamine, they can be very aggressive and violent. They may also act impulsively and make poor decisions, which can lead to dangerous situations. This psychosis is often called meth psychosis. 
"This a mental health condition that can occur when someone uses methamphetamine. It is a type of psychosis, which is a mental health condition in which people have distorted thoughts and perceptions. People with methamphetamine psychosis may experience hallucinations, which are seeing things that are not real. They may also have a heightened sense of awareness and feel like they are in a state of constant danger. When people are high on methamphetamine, they can be very aggressive and violent. They may also act impulsively and make poor decisions, which can lead to dangerous situations."

Here are Keith's suggestions as to how to safely talk to suspected meth users in your library:

"When you encounter someone that is experiencing meth psychosis, keep a social distance from them. Basically, a 7-to-10- foot radius. You should also not deal with a person experiencing meth psychosis by yourself." [Albrecht: As I have said on many of my training programs, change the "ratio of confrontation," by getting help from a co-worker, boss, or security officer - if your library is staffed with them. I hope it's obvious to all library employees, by this point, that if you think you need to call the police to get them to better deal with a meth user who is out of control, then call the police.]
"Talk to the person in a calm and soft voice. A meth user hears sounds at a fast pace and a high pitch. A side effect of a meth high is a constant buzzing sound in the background. Keep them talking. Silence can mean that the suspect's paranoid thoughts have taken over and anyone in the area can become part of the suspect's paranoid delusions.” [Albrecht: As I always say in my library trainings with any patron who is not in emotional self-control, stop saying, "Calm down!" to people who cannot calm themselves.]
”Move in a deliberate manner. This will lessen the chances that the person will misinterpret your actions. Keep your hands in sight. Because of the paranoia, your hands should be visible to the person. If your hands are not visible, the person might feel threatened and become violent."

Taken to an extreme, meth users can give themselves permanent brain injuries (and damage their eyes to where their pupils no longer open and close normally). They can develop schizophrenic tendencies, which can make them hard to manage and treat, even in a hospital setting. Meth is a bad-news drug and always has been. This new stuff is even worse.

My thanks to Keith Graves for his knowledge and safety suggestions.

Training Sidebar:

One way to help you more accurately identify meth users in your library is to remember that every day is "MOTHERS" Day.

  • Mouth - Users can show a white, slimy coating around their lips and on their tongues. The drug causes their mucus membranes to work harder.
  • Odor - Users can give off a chemical smell, mixed with dried sweat. Regular bathing and careful hygiene are not high on their to-do list. Imagine how you would smell if you stayed up for three nights, sweating, running around your neighborhood, and getting involved with other people, usually in an aggressive, intrusive, and impolite way, all while wearing your same clothes.
  • Twitching - Users shift from foot to foot, touch things around them, and cannot stand still for even a short moment. They may constantly pick at or adjust their hair or clothing, twitch their hands, head, and shoulders, and generally act like someone who cannot control their movements (because they can't control their movements).
  • Head - Users will have their heads on a constant swivel, mostly because since their nerves and senses are heightened abnormally, they are quite sensitive to background noises, loud inside sounds, and even distant outside sounds. It's not unusual to see meth users started by the sound of a passenger jet flying by.
  • Eyes - Normal pupils, in regular room light, typically have a diameter of 3 mm to 6.5 mm. People whose pupils are dilated by stimulant drugs, like cocaine and meth, will have eyes that look like dinner plates (10 or 11 mm). The difference is not subtle. (Google the phrase "meth eyes" for many examples of "blown out" pupils.)
  • Rapid Pulse - While we aren't taking the pulse rates of any of our patrons (even if they ask), we can know that the pulse rate of a meth user is often 100 to 140 beats per minute, far above the normal 60 to 90 bpm range most of us have.
  • Speech (Rapid) - Users will use rapid, disconnected, erratic speech, often with themes of paranoia, hypervigilance, and their sense that someone (the police, the government) is "out to get them" and they need to fight back or flee. (Think of the phrase "word salad" when you're in contact with suspected meth users.)


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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.

His professional webite is at http://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.