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The Black Belt Librarian: Real-World Safety & Security

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  401 ratings  ·  87 reviews
Sharing expertise gleaned from more than two decades as a library security manager, Graham demonstrates that libraries can maintain their best traditions of openness and public access by creating an unobtrusive yet effective security plan. In straightforward language, the author Shows how to easily set clear expectations for visitors' behavior Presents guidelines for when ...more
Paperback, 80 pages
Published December 28th 2011 by American Library Association (first published December 1st 2011)
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I am going to write a review that will surprise people who know me in person. I am a loud, confrontational person who has a tendency to think after she speaks. However, I found this book written in a manner that is lacking in tact. Yes, I am accusing someone else of not having the appropriate level of sensitivity when dealing with a subject. (When my friends from real life get done whipping the tears from their laughter I am sure they will comment about my lack of soft skills below.)

The author h
Heidi The Reader
Oct 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Graham has some excellent suggestions for creating or improving security measures in public libraries. He brought up issues that I hadn't even considered and his methods seem quite easy to implement. This would be a great book to keep in a library's break room for staff to read during their lunch hour. ...more
There are definitely golden nuggets to pluck out of this book when training your staff on safety and security, but there were also some genuine turds sprinkled throughout that made the book reek to me.
1) Telling library anecdotes is one thing, but constantly commenting on the mental health of patrons and then LATER in the book talking about the importance of not exhibiting bias was a conflict throughout the text. Practice what you preach. Tell the anecdotes for weird security-related situations
Jul 23, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012, nonfiction
According to the author, the following top ten would qualify as the most rejected library marketing phrases:

The Public Library...

...Where the Possessed Go to Mingle!
...A House of Knowledge. Do You Fit?
...Patron Dress Code: Four Tooth Minimum
...Don't Force Us to Call the Circus!
...Where There IS Such a Thing as a Stupid Question
...No, Our Staff Members Do Not Want to Date You
...Where the Demons Go to Hang Out
...All the Nuts Are Not in the Nuthouse
...Yes, We Are a Public Building, but No, You Can'
Jul 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
I read Warren Graham's 2006 "Black belt librarians: Every librarian's real world guide to a safer workplace" a few years ago and read this one recently as a refresher. If you have to choose between this book and Graham's 2006 book, go with the 2006 one. I remember the 2006 title had a lot more safety and security tips than this book discussed. This title feels like an abridged version of Graham's previous work.
Emilia P
Oct 08, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: real-books
Getting my hands on this book took tons more time than actually reading it. The public library I work at is going to start applying some of Graham's principles so they have librarian copies around and I finally read one after the person teaching a class that I'm in based one of her class lectures on some of Graham's points. My criticisms of this book are unavoidable. It was written with some assumption that libraries will have security personnel on hand. It was written by a non-librarian --
Melissa Wehunt
Nov 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Definitely worth reading if you work in libraries. You probably won't like what he has to say if you're not an accountable person... so I leave you with that warning. Among all my faults, generally accountability is not one of I felt "nailed" several times by this guy. For example, "Not wanting to be a police officer" used as an excuse to not have to tell people no. Darn you Warren! You know how I like to avoid confrontation!! Anyways, point being, it gave me a lot to think about and I ...more
Feb 25, 2013 rated it liked it
Quick read about library safety. Warren is doing a presentation in the area so I picked up the book to get an idea of what he'll be talking about because I won't be attending it. I laughed at his real-life situations and got some good general tips from this book, but I wished he would've provided realistic, specific solutions to the array of problems faced in the library. Overall, a worthy checkout about the topic, but not a manual (which is what I was expecting). ...more
Kate Woods Walker
Mar 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A few years back, I completed a one-day training on library security, taught by this author. Without a doubt, it was the most useful class I have ever attended--and I've attended a slew of 'em.

This book gathers the real-world lessons of that training day into a slim and readable volume. It's packed with good information, and presented in an engaging manner.

Attend the author's workshops if you can. The security lessons can be applied to any public setting.
Beth Wisniewski
May 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book even though some of the information didn't apply to my current position with the library. Many items I will use in my every day work! A good read for any library staff member! ...more
Feb 06, 2020 rated it it was ok
This book is an okay read, but probably best suited toward libraries operating with very limited (or sole-person) staffing. A lot of what's covered here is likely already in place at larger libraries / systems (rules of conduct, documentation procedures, suspension standards and timelines). ...more
Our director has made this required reading for the whole staff. It is a quick and painless read.

Three stars, only because I would have valued some practical advice for handling specific situations. Instead, this book covers more of the philosophy of library security. It is definitely useful on that front.

A few things I take away from this reading:

Even problem patrons are still our patrons.

You want your library rules and procedures to be conducive the library use.

Rules and procedures should be
May 30, 2015 rated it liked it
Warren Graham's perspective of libraries is significant. The days of thinking that the library is a "safe place" is long gone. Before thinking of the library as a building of organized information, Graham reminds us that the library is a public place. This means that different people with various perspectives, ideas, thoughts and behaviors will enter and use free library services. And with these different customer influences is a sense of entitlement to-do-what-they-want-to-do.

The author remind
Sep 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Should be required reading for all library staff. And might become just that, at least in my library!
Feb 16, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012
I don't get to make a lot of decisions regarding security so much as I enforce them, but I still found this book helpful. What I liked for me was a reminder about confidence and remaining in the eye of the inevitable storm. What I would like to see at a wider level is use of a potential problem log and reducing rules to bookmark size. ...more
Jul 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
There are a few typos but overall I think this is a useful tool for library employees IF they follow the suggestions and are consistent. For those who don't work at a library, reading the stories of the crazy things that happen in the library could be an eye opener. It is very short so it won't bore you. ...more
Feb 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book has a lot of great, basic, easy to implement advice. I realized I needed to have some written policies, and I should really start keeping a security log. Fun? No. But, unfortunately necessary.
Madeline Dahlman
Aug 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
A professional manual on library security and safety...There were points of the book that weren't applicable to me as I'm not actively involved in writing policy etc but there were a LOT of great points. I think this should be required reading at all public libraries! ESPECIALLY directors! ...more
Jul 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
A slim, easy to read security manual for librarians. A handy reference to have available to staff, with some good tips and tricks. I especially liked the section on how to deliver instructions and ask patrons to change behavior, as his advice on not starting negative really rang true (and works).
Jan 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Some very good information packed into just a few pages.
Apr 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
I work in a public library and found that the suggestions in this book were very relevant and would help us out.
Dec 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Interesting book. So many things that we SHOULD be doing but are not. I hope a copy of this gets into the right hands.
Stephanie Arizpe Strobel
Feb 15, 2021 rated it did not like it
I was recommended this book as part of my professional development, but it's become clear to me that this is not it. Honestly, I don't know what I was expecting from a book written by a "security professional". First of all, who was in charge of editing? It blows my mind that the ALA had anything to do with this, both from the careless grammar mistakes to, more importantly, the fact that this person views any patron who is remotely unconventional as subhuman and undeserving of empathy and decent ...more
Apr 14, 2021 rated it did not like it
I have worked in an urban, downtown library for 20+ years. During that time, I've seen my fair share of safety and security issues, and experienced them as well.
However, I cannot stress enough how much I disliked this book, both on a personal and a professional level. The author uses extremely disdainful words for patrons and their actions. One such incident was a woman was crying like she was 'at a Pentecostal funeral'. The rejected library marketing phrases, which the author states are 'tryin
Apr 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
I work in a library. I read this book upon the recommendation of a colleague.

The anecdotes about the bizarre happenings in public libraries are really hilarious. Regardless of how you feel about the author grouping people or looking down on people, the truth remains. These things happen. They happen regularly. If you work in a library, you will have to deal with these situations. It is not easy. The author provides some good advice on how to deal with some very awkward and uncomfortable situatio
Jan 16, 2021 rated it really liked it
This book seems to be written mainly with smaller libraries in mind with a small staff, so I did find it a beneficial read considering I work in a mid-size library. It was helpful for me in terms of providing a lot of points to look at when building policies related to behavior within the library, and also on the importance of have concise easy to follow plans in place.

The author had some great advice on scanning your building for security flaws and safety tips for working alone.
The only downs
May 26, 2019 rated it really liked it

The most helpful thing is that someone bothered to write this to address the problems of safety in the library.

Libraries are open to the public, thus, you never know what will walk through the door - a bad attitude, to something more violent or violating.

It is a little disappointing in that the author says you need such-and-such but does not tell you how to achieve that state of being. For instance, in Chapter 3 the author says you need to support yourse
Jul 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Warren Graham's security workshops get great reviews. His lessons do not translate as well in a text format. It is a bit simple, and without the back and forth of an audience, can seem a little snarky or as though he is trying to respond to questions that he often gets.

However, the book is quite short and practical. I think it would be a good exercise for all staff in a library to read and discuss. There are many good pointers and many suggestions that you may already know, but don't often thin
Jdy Lewis
Aug 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's good information, amusingly written, and yet, some of the strategies and recommendations we already do. Still, it's good to have an authoritative source confirm that sometimes libraries have to trespass people to make the library usable by all(the rest of the public).

Some of the humor dates the book and ties it to a certain cultural background--when he's rejecting a too-welcoming building policy, he snarks, "I'd like to teach the world to singin perfect harmony, but..."
Shelley Hudspath
Jan 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I picked this book up after listening to a webinar dealing with angry customers/patrons. I appreciate the clear, concise information on how to handle confrontation in a positive and safe way. I really think this applies to all areas of customer service, but is especially helpful in the library setting.
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