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

At a recent library service, safety, and security training workshop I did, a library employee told me she would never call the police to her library because, "Once the police put that person's name into their system, it never comes out, and it will ruin their life." Despite my best attempts to convince there that wasn't always true, she remained unswayed. So let's look at the process cops use when they talk to someone who they believe may be involved in a crime (like stealing or fighting) or an illegal activity (being high on illegal drugs). Note that we are using examples of patrons who may have committed a crime.  

Police officers have thousands of conversations with people who may or may not be doing suspicious things, every day. These most often start out as a "consensual conversation," meaning the person is free to: walk away, not answer any questions, not engage, or make eye contact, or speak at all. If the officer has no legal reason to detain the person, he or she is free to go, without being physically stopped.

During the "consensual conversation," the officer can ask the person's name and other demographic or identifying information. The person may or may not decide to answer, which is legal as well. If the person does answer, officers often put this information on a form called a "Field Interview (FI) slip." This form will have spaces for the person's name, address, age, date of birth, height, weight, gender, hair/eye color, race, scars, tattoos, Social Security Number, and the reason for the stop. The reason for the stop on the FI form is usually called the "Crime Potential," meaning it's what the officer believes the person may have done before his or her arrival - burglary, vandalism, gang activity, theft, prostitution, drugs, robbery, car theft, etc.

If the officer has a legal reason to detain this person, it turns into a stop called a detention. At this point, the officer suspects criminal activity but is not ready or does not have enough information or evidence to make an arrest. During a detention, the officer can conduct a "patdown" on top of the person's clothes for "hard objects," which is any item that feels like it could be a weapon (firearm, stun gun, knife, can of pepper spray, stick). The officer cannot dig into the person's pockets, purse, or backpack for anything other than a hard object which could be a weapon.

A legal detention is supposed to have a time limit of about 20 minutes. If the officer cannot develop probable cause to make an arrest, he or she has to let the person go free.

Examples of detentions include when an officer evaluates someone for being drunk in public; drunk driving; being under the influence of drugs; running him or her for warrants or doing a records check for a driver's license suspension (both through the police radio system).

The officer may evaluate the person for a mental health concern, because he or she is a danger to self or others, or is gravely disabled (unable to care for himself or herself safely).

The officer can take a person believed to have a mental health issue to a mental health hospital or a hospital emergency room, under a legal stop known as a "mental health detention." If the clinicians decide to keep the person, the officer can leave the facility. If the clinicians decide not to admit the person for care and treatment, the officer must return the person to the exact spot where they were originally detained.

Another form of detention is called a "curbstone lineup." Here, the officer detains the person at a location, so that another cop can bring a witness to a crime to the scene, to make an identification that the person was involved in a crime.

The officers bring witnesses to potential suspects, not the other way around, because "movement equals an arrest." If the witness cannot identify the person, the officer frees him or her from the detention. If the witness identifies the person, the police use that as "probable cause to make an arrest.” (Officers and deputies can make an arrest for a felony, either committed in their presence or not, based on probable cause. For misdemeanors not committed in their presence, they need an eyewitness to make a citizen’s arrest, then they will take custody of the subject.)

Once the officer decides he or she has enough evidence to make an "arrest, with probable cause," the person is handcuffed and searched, before being put into the back of a police car. This time, the search is made "incident to an arrest," meaning the police can search the person's body, clothes, and belongings for both weapons and contraband. This is done because the county jail will not allow weapons or contraband within its walls. Contraband is defined as legal or illegal drugs, cigarettes, lighters, matches, bullets, fireworks, pornography, cellphones, money, jewelry, and any object that could be used or traded in jail.

At this point, the person cannot "resist a legal, lawful arrest." If he or she does, the officer is legally allowed to use the "minimum amount of force to safely make the arrest." The person can complain later to a lawyer, or to a police supervisor, or to the department's Internal Affairs Unit, or to the community's Police Oversight Board, if he or she feels wrongly arrested. 

"The cops didn't read him his rights! I've seen TV shows and movies! I know they have to recite him his Miranda warning!" Again, not always.

The Miranda Warning is what is called a two-pronged test: 1. The person has to be in custody (under arrest and not free to leave) and 2. The police must plan to interview the person and use what he or she says against him or her, by recording or writing his or her statement. The person can "waive their rights" and speak to the officer if he or she chooses to do so. Or he or she can choose to "invoke" and not say anything.

Here's an example where the officer doesn't have to read the person the Miranda warning: The person is stopped for being drunk in public (detention, moving to probable cause for an arrest). The person is handcuffed, searched, and taken to jail. No Miranda reading is necessary because only the first part of the two-prong test is in play. The person is under arrest and not free to leave, but the officer doesn't (care) or plan to ask him or her about how or why they got drunk.

Let's look at the permanent record issue. Casual conversations don't go into the police records database. FI slips, traffic warnings and citations, traffic accident reports, runaway juvenile reports, death reports, crime reports, and arrest reports do. The span of time these reports are kept in a law enforcement database and then later deleted varies from agency to agency, but it’s not forever. Lots of people are in police records systems that have nothing to do with their committing a crime: witnesses at a car accident; being a crime victim; having their car towed away for illegal parking or an expired registration over one year; being the parents of a person who call to have their son/daughter taken to a mental health facility for an evaluation.

Just because a citizen is in a local police or sheriff’s department computer system is not a hindrance to any part of their life. All first-responder agencies record incoming 9-1-1 calls too. These facts should not prevent library employees from calling for police, fire, or paramedic help if they are needed for an actual or pending emergency or crime.  

Votes: 0
E-mail me when people leave their comments –

You need to be a member of Library 2.0 to add comments!

Join Library 2.0

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.

Safe Library Short Tips (+ Dog)

Buy the Book





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.