Public Library Safety & Security Toolkit

Calgary Public Library – Firefighter storytime media event, 2019, Signal Hill


Emergency Plans

Most library systems have emergency plans. These plans relay information on different types of emergencies such as medical, fire, evacuation, weather, active shooters, chemical release and more. Library staff also have different approaches to communicating with each other during an emergency. Some libraries use codes. Here are a few examples of the emergency response plans some libraries have.

Edmonton Public Library

The Edmonton Public Library has an Emergency Response Plan (FERP) which outlines the organization’s Emergency Operations and Incident Management Response System Structure. It describes the goals, objectives, basic strategies, processes, and mechanisms by which EPL mobilizes resources and conducts them in the event of an emergency. The Plan is always in effect to provide effective mitigation, response and recovery efforts in the event of an emergency. The Plan works in conjunction with the Facility Emergency Response Plan (FERP).

Kingston Frontenac Public Library

The Kingston Frontenac Public Library Safety Manual was last updated in March 2022 and includes 59 pages of guidance for library staff. It includes details and specific steps to follow when dealing with a long list of different types of incidents.

Brantford Public Library

Brantford Public Library has incident procedures support staff at all stages of the incident, from the general guidelines through to how incidents will be documented and reported, as well as debriefing and follow-up required. Roles for staff, security, and a Person In Charge (Manager or a Duty Librarian) are clearly identified, as well as the role for the Police and Mobile Crisis Response Team. The types of incidents tracked include:
  • Damage/Vandalism –  Intentional damage to equipment and buildings, after-hours vandalism discovered later.
  • Drugs/Alcohol  – Visibly intoxicated individuals being ejected from the library, and the discovery of drugs/paraphernalia either during or after use).
  • Injury/Illness – Ranges from minor injuries in the library to medical emergencies requiring paramedics
  • Major Disturbance – Includes incidents that result in the individuals being ejected from the library, cases where patrons refuse to follow staff direction, and situations where staff or others have felt at risk (e.g., ranges from threats directed towards someone specifically, to physical altercations between patrons).
  • Moderate Disturbance – Random outbursts of profanity or erratic behaviour, men entering the women’s washroom, and minor patron disputes.
  • Patrons in Distress  – Includes situations where patrons disclose that they are in crisis and request assistance with contacting community supports.
  • Suspension – Includes ejecting suspended individuals from the library, often on a repeated basis, as well as providing notice to individuals that they have been suspended due to recent behaviour).
  • Theft – Includes attempted and actual thefts of library materials and patron belongings.
  • Unattended Children  – Ranges from a parent being late to pick up a child, to repeated cases of a child being left alone, which triggers a call to children’s services.

Winnipeg Public Library

The Winnipeg Public Library partnered with the Canadian Centre for Child Protection to enhance safety protocols, reporting procedures, and staff training to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation. The initiative also targets facility users through printed media that encourages people to notify staff of unusual behaviour, such as taking pictures of children without permission or other actions that make a reasonable observer uncomfortable.