Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Blackbelt Librarian: Real World Safety & Security by Warren Graham

DiBello, Amy 

Graham, Warren. (2012). The Black Belt Librarian: Real-World Safety & Security. ALA Editions. Available from: American Library Association. 50 East Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60611. Tel: 866-746-7252; Fax: 770-280-4155; e-mail: editionsmarketing@ala.org; Web site: http://www.alaeditions.org.

I was recently transferred to a public library in the center of the city with one of the busiest bus lines. Although 99% of our patrons come here for all the right reasons, the 1% can shake up our day. However, there's book to help you with troublemakers: The Blackbelt Librarian: Real World Safety and Security by library security expert Warren Graham. Graham has traveled all over the United States, empowering the meekest librarians to take charge of their libraries and stop cowering behind the reference desk. 

Security is about more than banning problem patrons. It's about protecting your collection from theft, your peaceful patrons from harassment, and preventing your staff from becoming exhausted and embittered. This empowering book is also funny and realistic. Graham has been in the trenches with stressed out librarians and seen first hand what they're up against. He sums up his philosophy as "playing chess with the checker players" and treating everyone fairly. 

Here is how ALA sums up his book: 

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 and how to intervene when someone violates the code of conduct, including tips for approaching an unruly patron
  • Offers instruction on keeping persistent troublemakers under control or permanently barred from the library
  • Gives library staff tools for communicating effectively with its security professionals, including examples of basic documentation
The Black Belt Librarian arms librarians with the confidence and know-how they need to maintain a comfortable, productive, and safe environment for everyone in the library.

I had the pleasure of attending one of Warren Graham's workshops at the New Mexico Library Association in 2015. He had the room roaring with laughter in between role playing our most common security challenges. At one point, he even chased a librarian around the room to emphasize what he referred to as a "game over" scenario, when a librarian absolutely needs to stop negotiating and pick up the phone and call 911 instead.

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