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.


June 13, 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.

Why Your Library is (Kinda) Like a Starbucks

After doing a keynote speech for a state library association last week, one of the directors in attendance came up and asked me, “What is a similar type of business to a public library?”

I didn’t need much time to answer because I have been thinking about that very same thing for several years. I said, “Starbucks.” He seemed surprised at first and then he quickly agreed.

I said, “Libraries are a publicly-accessed, community-based business with locations in most cities and counties. They are open long hours and on weekends. It can get quite busy, noisy, and even stressful in a library at certain times, just like at Starbucks. Plus, like them, we get our customers from all walks of life, all ages, races, genders, colors, income levels, disabilities, and orientations. They all want a place to either get a flavorful cup of coffee, get in out of the weather, rest a bit before moving on, use the bathroom, learn something, read something, hear some music, meet someone they already know, or make a new friend, in a safe, open, visible, welcoming place.”

That some libraries have a cool cafe inside or a coffee kiosk out front makes the parallel even more true. I see plenty of pre-teens and teens getting icy drinks in Starbucks, and lots of kids with their parents, especially on the weekends, just like at the library during after-school hours or busy homework or finals times.

Just like at the library, some Starbucks customers come in early and set up their workstations (or nesting areas), with laptops, mini printers, papers, books, and headphones. They count on the free Wi-Fi to work, do a job search, study, or entertain themselves. They could be there from opening to closing. They have their favorite spot inside the coffee shop and the library and can get a little (or a lot stressed) if there is already someone in their place, using the available power plug. Conflicts between library patrons, like an argument between Starbucks customers (“You cut in line! You took the last Everything bagel!”) are similar.

And because the library and Starbucks accept all who enter, both places can occasionally get eccentric, unruly, impatient, demanding, drunk, or threatening people. Most libraries, like most Starbucks, are not overstaffed, meaning a small number of shorthanded employees may have to handle a lot of challenging tasks (quickly and accurately) and people (some of whom can have mental health or sobriety issues), which makes them uncooperative when asked to leave.

Clearly, Starbucks and libraries have had their share of homeless people asking for money outside the doors and inside their facilities. Both places have had thefts of customers’ personal properties. Both places have had vandalism incidents.

Starbucks has had to deal with opiate drug users using their restrooms to shoot up (way too many YouTube videos illustrate this problem, especially when they put their drug-taking equipment on the baby diaper-changing tables). Like some libraries, some Starbucks locations have had to call paramedics to assist with life-saving measures for fentanyl overdosers.

Back to the positives for both: Starbucks and the libraries have theme days, nights, weeks, and months (often having to do with PSLs - Pumpkin Spice Lattes), where they honor specific community members. Some Starbucks have programs, musical artists perform, and encourage groups to come (church members, road cyclists, soccer teams) and use their stores as a safe, easy-to-find, comfortable, gathering place. And just like the libraries, they see themselves as longtime members and ongoing participants of a part of a city or town, large or small, for years to come. (Have you ever seen a Starbucks close for lack of business? One location in my city has at least eight cars in the drive-through line every time I pass it.)

To run a safe and secure location, each Starbucks has customer service training for their employees and rules of safe use for the customers, like libraries have staff training and a Code of Conduct.

Did I leave out any other parallels between the library and Starbucks? Please post your thoughts in the Comments and think about the similarities the next time you get a PSL in a cup with the green Siren Mermaid on it. (You can read more about her https://stories.starbucks.com/stories/2016/who-is-starbucks-siren.)

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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.