Public Library Safety & Security Toolkit

Barrie Public Library – Listening Post


Training & Professional Development

Libraries are a critical infrastructure within our community to ensure equitable access to information, resources, and learning opportunities. Library staff are important and skilled facilitators in reducing barriers and creating connections that support individuals to explore, grow, and connect with those things throughout a journey of lifelong learning. These responsibilities are distinct from that of shelter support workers, social workers, mental health and addictions workers, police, medical care professionals, and others community and social service supports.

Within the scope of safety and security, Library staff are trained to address and manage incidents that arise in libraries, and have tools developed specifically to guide library users on what is acceptable behaviour (e.g., Rules of Conduct).

Where Training & Professional Development Fit in the Library Journey
Training supports staff, management, and service providers in the library, including security guards. Safety and security related training is relevant at all stages in the library journey, starting with welcoming patrons and through to preventing, preparing, responding to, and recovering from incidents.

Key Considerations

There are many different types of training available. The list below highlights some of those most relevant to increasing the capacity of libraries to prevent, prepare for, and respond to safety and security issues:

  • Anti-oppression and anti-racism
  • Cultural competency
  • Human rights
  • Non-violent crisis intervention (and de-escalation)
  • Mental health first aid
  • Substance awareness
  • Overdose intervention (e.g., Naloxone)
  • Trauma-informed approach to customer service
  • Psychological safety and supports
  • Crisis response
  • Training and onboarding security personnel in:
    • The library’s values,
    • Customer service framework,
    • Expectations and post orders/instructions
    • Ideally have training/background in:
      • customer service,
      • de-escalation instead of in profiling
      • as well as cultural competency,
      • mental health first aid,
      • drug/substance abuse awareness,
        overdose intervention

Training and Resources

The following courses are currently used by one or more CULC/CBUC libraries.


Situational Awareness - Saskatoon Public Library

Saskatoon Public Library has a Situational Awareness training for employees that is designed so that by the end of the training participants will have learned:

  • 4 Steps to Situational Awareness
    1. Observation – Asses the situation
    2. Orientation – What is around you
    3. Decision – How should you approach the situation
    4. Action – What will your response be.
  • De-escalation Tactics – Tactics for trying to stop a situation from escalating.
  • Patron Behaviour – How to monitor and address the actions and behaviors of patrons in the library.
  • Safe Use and Conduct Bylaw – When and how to ask someone to leave if their conduct has breached the bylaw.
  • When to Disengage – When to remove yourself from a situation and call for assistance from a guard or emergency response.

Psychological Safety & Security - Calgary Public Library

The Calgary Public Library has a psychological safety and security learning path for all staff that includes curated courses that focus on:

  • Psychological health and safety – Shared understanding of psychological safety, risk factors and strategies to improve safe culture. 13 factors of psychological safety are explored.
  • Safety and security at the library – Understand Library security policies and process, as well as how to address and respond to key incidents.
  • Working with upset customers – Learn practical skills in a customer service setting to de-escalate conflict.
  • Engaging with vulnerable people – Develop empathy and understanding to interact respectfully with vulnerable populations, and apply learning to key library scenarios.
  • Crisis de-escalation – Develop practical skills to assess and react safely with scenario-based training. Develop self-care tactics. Explore the principles, strategies and techniques used in de-escalation, along with the effects challenging interactions have on mental health.
  • Mental health first aid – This is the help provided to a person developing a mental health problem, experiencing a mental health crisis, or a worsening of their mental health.
  • Active bystander training – Learn to assess incidents and steps to ensure personal safety and care for the victim.

Training & Professional Development at Toronto Public Library

Toronto Public Library training and professional development initiatives include:

  • Rules of Conduct training – All levels of staff to support them in administering the policy. The training uses case studies based on actual incidents to help staff understand how to respond to customers about our policy. Examples are provided on what to say and the approach to use when delivering the message.
  • Deliver Verbal Intervention training – Approximately 20 staff and managers are certified as trainers through the Crisis Prevention Institute. Staff attend a three hour e-learning module delivered through CPI’s e-learning system and then a four hour live session with our trainers where staff review the theory in conjunction with case studies that reflect our public service environment. Again, examples are provided on what to say and the approach to use when delivering the message.
  • Face to Face: Serving Library Customers with Mental Health Challenges – With the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA). Topics include definitions of mental health and mental illness; myths, social stigma, and human rights issues; major signs and symptoms associated with different kinds of mental health illnesses; and broad guidelines on how to communicate and help someone experiencing symptoms of mental illness. The session also includes public library-specific case studies and helping customers in the context of TPL’s policies.
  • Developing Resilience – Examines burnout, compassion fatigue, trauma, and vicarious trauma as well as strategies to manage these.
  • Mental Health First Aid – Training that libraries provide, along with how to deliver trauma-informed library service.