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LIBRARIAN: Black Belt required?. Misawa Air Base Japan, 1984. Wado-ryu. Shotokan. Shorinji kempo. South Carolina, 2010. Shorin-ryu. What we wish s ecurity was in small and rural libraries…. Reality…. Ki-yaaah!!!.

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  • Shorinji
  • kempo

South Carolina, 2010



What we wish

  • security was in small
  • and rural libraries…
some just don’t get the picture

Face of a man that looks like Vladimir Lenin?

Woman walking past a tree toward bridge?


Whatever their

  • personal situation,
  • there’s a reason
  • to be ready…

If a large male roaming around the library began screaming profanity at his step-daughter who was quietly doing homework at a computer?


If two teenage males began a verbal altercation at a study table and then one stood up appearing ready to strike the other?


If a teenage female informed you that she was approached by an older patron who asked her for personal information and then he suggested that they take a ride in his car?


If a middle-aged couple, both using computers, loudly and profanely, refused to relinquish the computers when their time had expired?


What‘chagonna do?

Not gonna call g-busters, so…


Library Safety & Security





what is library safety security
WHAT is Library Safety & Security?

Is it knowing karate

techniques for:

  • Non-shushing patrons
  • Patrons with more than $5.00 in fines
  • Renegade kids in the children’s area

Some directors think so!










Being free from dangeror risk within a facility.



Being free from danger or risk from outsidea facility.



  • YOU.
  • I can’t find any of the books I want! Now!

Let’s look, together…


Libraries - quiet places where thoughtful, intelligent people relax, read, research, and generally find pleasure in the calm atmosphere where there’s nothing to worry about.Thoughtful & intelligent?


“If it’s a cloudy day

will they postpone

the eclipse of the sun?


“Who was that Wells guy

and how did he build

that time machine?”


“Who didn’t sign

the Declaration ofIndependence?”


“Do you have an

Orlando newspaper?

There’s a bunch of

felony warrants

out for me there

and I want to see if

I’m in the paper.”


"There's a sign out there

that says ‘no parking’ in big letters.

Can I park there?"


“Just where the hell is uptown

Charlotte and where is

the damn library?”

Public Library

of Charlotte


You never know who you may get, what they might do, and when & where an event will happen.

  • That’s WHY you need to be ready.

Why be a “black belt” librarian?

  • Many working in libraries don’t think anything bad will happen, especially at their library.
  • True story - A female staff member was closing a small branch library alone…
  • Bad things happen to good people,
  • especially when good people aren’t thinking about and preparing for what could happen.
  • Don’t become a statistic—
  • ”If you are prepared
  • you have no need to fear.”





Quickly surmise what’s

happening before intervening.


“You must develop relationships with

police, social services, and local schools.

If I were a branch manager,

I would meet with local police,

tell them what happens in libraries

and let them know we have

security procedures, we’re trained, and

we are certainly not going to call

the police unless we need them.

If we call, it’s serious business—

so get here as quickly as you can.”


“Develop a tangible Feeling

when something Is not

quite right. You need to

Heed such feelings.

This intuition is given To us

by nature, but as

Spoiled americans living

In a relatively safe society

Our guard has been lowered…

If you work in a public entity

Like a library…

you’d best get your intuition back.”




SituationalAwareness is the ability

to continually be on guard and perceive

activities within your sensory range—

what is happening,

what is going to happen,

and how to react.

It is a perspective and skill that fosters

decision making, to determine

context and relevance

of unfolding events.


To realize beforehand; foresee.

  • To act before another has had time to.
  • To prevent or forestall by taking countermeasures in advance.

To observe or detect .

To watch closely for purposes of control. To oversee or regulate.

  • To determine the significance
  • or condition of by careful
  • appraisal and study.
  • To think carefully about, especially
  • in order to make a decision.
  • To pay attention to; regard.

Things to remember:

“No two security situations are quite alike. Human interaction is always dynamic and never static. Rarely is there a black-and-white solution to an incident; it is almost always gray.”

“The whole idea…is to empower you to be able to respond to a situation rather than simply react.”


Develop plans & policies – Borrow them from other libraries.All library staff members should study and know the policies, rules and procedures.Practice situations with staff – think about worst-case scenarios.The “it won’t happen here” can and will happen; don’t wait until...

  • Don’t make a big deal out of confrontation
  • Assess, don’t assume
  • Approach confidently (but with caution)
  • Speak slowly/clearly, no hand gestures
  • Start nice then get more authoritative, never the reverse
  • Ignore insulting language
  • Be prepared to be accused of prejudice
  • Don’t discuss “Why?” Tell the standard and the consequence, then enforce it
  • Don’t negotiate with someone on drugs and/ or alcohol
  • Teens are teens—treat them all fairly
don ts
  • Don’t leave personal belongings out
  • Don’t count money in front of patrons
  • Don’t leave library keys lying around
  • Don’t leave cash drawers/registers unlocked
  • Don’t ever make night deposits – daytime only


  • Check all areas before closing
  • Keep back rooms and offices locked
  • Only authorized people in during closed hours
  • If working alone, don’t tell anyone and be alert
  • Follow intuition–if you sense something, act

Keep It So Simple

“the KISS principle”

“Keep your rules simple and clarify your guidelines.

Don’t get bogged down trying to create a perfect policy. There is no such thing, and when you discover weaknesses in your procedures you will adjust them.

If you are not careful, you can end up with policy that

is so wishy-washy it doesn’t really say anything.

Security is a living thing and doesn’t remain fixed.”


Baltimore County Public Library, edited by Arlene Anderson. Help Manual: A Guide for Emergency Situations. BCPL (December 1995) - Covers Building Emergencies, Medical Emergencies, Problem Behavior, Service Inquiries and Complaints, Theft/Loss Prevention. The format provides a definition of the problem and action steps that should be undertaken by appropriate staff.

Campus Crime Prevention Programs. The complete library safety and security manual: A comprehensive resource manual for academic and public library professionals and law enforcement officers, Goshen, KY (2001)

Cravey, Pamela. Protecting Library Staff, Users, Collections and Facilities: A How-To-Do-It Manual for Librarians. New York, Neal-Schuman (2001) - Contents include: Library Security Today, An Overview; Security of the General Collection; Security of Users and Employees (especially, Expectations of a Safe Environment); Security of Electronic Files and Systems; Security of Special Collections; Security for Special Events; Library Security: Legal, Personnel, and Vendor Considerations. Especially helpful are sample policies, such as the “Draft Workplace Violence Policy”.

Graham, Warren. The Black Belt Librarian, Chicago: American Library Association (2012)

Kahn, Miriam B. Disaster response and planning for libraries, 2nd Edition Chicago: American Library Association (2003)

McNeil, Beth & Johnson, Denise J. Patron Behavior in Libraries: A Handbook of Positive Approaches to Negative Situations, Chicago: American Library Association (1999)

Shuman, Bruce A. Library Security and Safety Handbook: Prevention, Policies, and Procedures. Chicago: American Library Association (1999) - Contents include: Overview: Library Security and Safety, Protecting Materials in Libraries, Problem Behaviors in Libraries, Preparing for and Reacting to Security Incidents in Libraries, Emergency and Disaster Management Policies and Procedures; Legal and Ethical Issues of Security and New Technology, Electronic Security Issues and the Future of Library Security.

Toner, Eric S. Creating Situational Awareness: A Systems Approach. (2009)