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

Do your staff meetings turn into idea-killing sessions? Or are they doing what they are supposed to do - create value in a group discussion, initiate plans, develop solutions, and hold people accountable for their tasks and responsibilities? What do you tend to say of a typical library staff meeting: “That was a good use of my time, that was a waste of my time, or we could have got the same results using email exchanges?"

One reason many staff meetings de-evolve into conflicts, strong differences of opinion, or worse--the silent treatment among employees--is that they turn negative early. Allowing staff meeting members to value-judge, criticize, and make sweeping generalizations about what they don’t like about a new idea, policy, plan, or proposal defeats the purpose of a collaborative, brainstorming staff meeting. It discourages other more-quiet employees from speaking at all, so they leave the meeting literally feeling not heard. It can create bad feelings between colleagues, especially if their fledgling idea was the one that got hammered in the meeting.

Here’s a tool for running meetings that keep people motivated to problem-solve, not idea-kill. It’s called the P.I.N. Tool and it stands for Positive-Interesting-Negative. It provides a simple framework to evaluate new ideas and it can help to keep the group’s notorious idea killers at bay, at least until the end of the discussion, which is where their negativity belongs.

The P.I.N. Tool can be used by anyone who is running the meeting, a library leader, a manager, a supervisor, or even an employee who asked for the meeting or is tasked with moving through the agenda. Here’s how it works and what the meeting-runner should say, at least for the first few meetings where the P.I.N. Tool is introduced:

“We’re going to talk about some new ideas in this meeting. We can use the P.I.N. Tool to make the best use of our collective time if we focus first on what’s Positive about the issue at hand, what we like about it, and what’s good about it. We’ll capture those Positive attributes first.

"Then we can look at what’s Interesting about the new idea, plan, or proposal. That could be the facts and figures, the deadlines or due dates for it, the obvious or hidden costs, or some legal or procedural questions we’ll need to answer at some point. Interesting means what we still need to discover.

"Then we can move to the third step - looking at the Negatives, or what we don’t like about the idea, plan, policy, or proposal. It might be too expensive, hard to implement, or just not a good fit for our work culture here.

"The steps to the P.I.N. Tool are there for a reason. We start with the Positive, move through Interesting, and End with the Negative, to make sure every point of view is heard. The order is important because it protects new ideas and our bosses who are implementing them or your colleagues who have suggested them. We can use it as a reaction gauge.”

One of the examples I often use in training classes where we discuss the value of The P.I.N. Tool is an exercise where I ask the group to consider putting a casino on an airplane. Without the P.I.N. Tool in place, the first, immediate, and most vocal reactions come from the Idea Killers in the room who say some person of “What? That’s the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard! It would make the plane too heavy. What about turbulence and the roulette wheel? Who is going to fix the machines if they break?”

This no way, not gonna happen approach can sink the idea before it even gets a full hearing. Using the P.I.N. Tool we can make a useful list and then evaluate the idea in total at the end:

Positive - More revenue for the airline; fun for those passengers who like to gamble; a way to learn how to play new games en route to Las Vegas or Atlantic City; and it supports the gaming industry and its manufacturers and its employees.

Interesting - How much does it cost to retrofit the back of the plane? What are the associated legal issues, flying over all 50 states? Who will collect the money? Would we need a casino employee on each flight? What about technical or electronic repairs? Can they be hacked? Does it make the plane harder to fly?

Negative - Too much noise; the possibility of angry drunks or furious losers. Would it cut the airlines’ revenue because of the missing seats, so tickets would be more expensive? Security issues for the money? Does it set a bad moral example for kids to watch their parents gamble?

By deferring the Negative comments unit the end of the discussion, we give the idea a chance to grow, percolate, expand, and make more sense. Doing the tool backward, as we usually like to do in staff meetings - Negative-Interesting-Positive - means that we lose conversational momentum. With some human beings being as they are (chronic complainers), it’s easy to come up with a long list of don’t-likes early, which can make the list of likes much smaller.

Using the P.I.N. Tool, our list of Positives tends to be longer because it happens first. Holding the Negatives until the end gives those naysayers - who may make several valid points as to what’s wrong with the idea or why the new approach won’t work - their say, just at the point where it’s time for their input.

Try the P.I.N. Tool at your next staff meeting. Once you describe the ground rules, it should be easy for your colleagues to follow them.

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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.