Resource Guide for Library Safety and Preparedness

The past months have seen threats directed to public and school libraries and library workers, including the forced temporary closure of five public library systems due to bomb and shooting threats. With the safety of our members being our utmost priority, PLA and ALA have compiled a range of resources and knowledge to help library workers and patrons stay safe and prepared. We will add to these resources on a rolling basis.


To prepare for the possibility of a threat, we recommend that libraries review their procedures, which the resources below can inform. This may include a review of emergency procedures and preparations, as well as plans for communicating with internal (e.g. staff) and external (e.g. media) audiences.

In the Event of a Threat

If your library faces a threat to safety, we recommend first notifying local law enforcement and library security, if applicable. After any immediate steps are taken, we suggest you file a report with the FBI and notify ALA at

Guidelines for Library Security

ACRL/RBMS Guidelines Regarding Security and Theft in Special Collections
These guidelines identify important issues that collection administrators should address in developing adequate security measures and a strategy for responding to thefts. While directed primarily toward special collections in the U.S., many topics are also applicable to general collections and to special collections in other countries. 

ALA Guidelines for the Development of Policies and Procedures Regarding User Behavior and Library Usage
Libraries are faced with problems of user behavior that must be addressed to ensure the effective delivery of service and full access to facilities. Library governing bodies should approach the regulation of user behavior within the framework of the ALA Code of Ethics, the Library Bill of Rights and the law, including local and state statutes, constitutional standards under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, due process and equal and equitable treatment under the law.

Library Security - Libris DESIGN (PDF)
Libris DESIGN was a library facility planning information system and downloadable database that was developed for California Public Library planners in 2005. Most helpful for library building purposes was the Libris Design Planning Documentation (via, retrieved here via the Internet Archive, which was a set of reports, as DOC and PDF files, covering various interior and exterior library building topics and issues.  

Library Security Guidelines - by LLAMA BES Safety & Security of Library Buildings Committee (PDF)
While these “Guidelines” incorporate or recommend industry standards and note best practices, the document does not attempt to establish standards and in no way implies that libraries that do not or cannot adopt the recommendations are in any way negligent. 

Public access computers in libraries and liability concerns
Interpretation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998 amending the U.S. copyright law was Section 512, “limitation on liability relating to material online.” This provision protects online service providers (OSPs) from liability for third party infringement. This means that an online service provider will not be held responsible for the alleged infringements of users of their networks. 

Social Media Guidelines for Public and Academic Libraries
This document provides a policy and implementation framework for public and academic libraries engaging in the use of social media. Libraries should also note that most social media platforms have features that can help you navigate online abuse. Such features include blocking accounts (they cannot like, comment, mention, tag, see, or follow your account) and muting accounts or specific posts (so you won’t see them). You can also report abusive content which may get a post taken down or an account suspended for violating platform rules. 

Public Library Policy Examples

    Fort Worth Public Library (TX)

    Akron-Summit County Public Library (OH)  

    Mid-Continent Public Library (MO)  

ALA Resources on Safety, Wellness, and Trauma-Informed Care

12 Essentials for a Safe and Secure Library
ALA Editions offered a workshop with Warren Graham on June 6, 2012 that lasted 90 minutes. If you are interested in purchasing an archived copy, or would like to see this topic offered again, please contact

A Trauma-Informed Framework for Supporting Patrons: The PLA Workbook of Best Practices. Public Library Association/American Library Association. 2022.
Available for purchase from the ALA store, this workbook, presented by the PLA Social Worker Task Force, is filled with prompts, exercises, and best practices that shed light on how trauma can affect people, helping you build confidence in your ability to support library patrons in various scenarios. Access the following exercises from the workbook for free via linked PDFs: Self-Care Assessment, Self-Care Maintenance, Emergency Self-Care Plan, When Bad Things Happen

ALA-APA Wellness in the Workplace Resources
ALA-APA is an organization dedicated to promoting the mutual professional interests of librarians and other library workers, so it has a distinct interest in helping library workers address their own wellness and the wellness of their libraries. The resources on the website are here to help you better your personal wellness in the 8 dimensions (emotional, environmental, financial, intellectual, occupational, physical, spiritual, and social).

Book Cover: A Trauma-Informed Framework for Supporting Public Libraries

ALA-APA Wellness

Censorship and Mental Health – Enrollment & Key Instructions
This on-demand webinar, originally presented on December 15, 2021, helps participants engage in self-care and prioritize mental health amidst this threat to the freedom to read. Free for ALA members.

Hateful Conduct in Libraries
This resource was released by the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom and Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services following a spike in reported hate crimes in American libraries following the 2016 elections. It includes an overview of definitions and terms pertaining to hateful conduct, equity, diversity, and inclusion, in addition to sections on “Provocative Preparation”, “Responding to an Incident”, “Meeting Community Needs”, and more. 

Spotlight on Safety: Addressing Threats in Public Libraries (a Free Virtual Town Hall)
PLA originally presented this free virtual town hall on Wednesday, November 30, 2022 to directly address how public libraries are increasingly responding to violent and inflammatory speech and targeted attacks on their buildings, workers, and patrons in the current moment. Panelists included Maria McCauley (PLA president), Justin Lock (senior counsel to the director for the US Department of Justice, Community Relations Service), Manya Shorr (director of Fort Worth Public Library), Leah Esguerra (full-time library social worker with San Francisco Public Library), and Justin Koopman (director of security at Mid-Continent Public Library).

Video screenshot: Spotlight on Safety: Addressing Threats in Public Libraries, a free virtual town hall, Wednesday, November 30, 2022

PLA Social Worker Task Force Webinar Series

Understanding Trauma-Informed Approaches in Public Libraries
In this on-demand webinar (first in the series), presenters clarify the concept of trauma-informed approaches; detail what this looks like in a public library environment; and preview how understanding and beginning to implement this approach can aid your community and your library. Originally presented September 24, 2019.

Why Trauma-Informed: A PLA Social Worker Task Force Webinar
In this on-demand webinar (second in the series), the presenters—all working library social workers—show how following a trauma-informed approach can relieve the pressure that results from managing difficult situations, explore methods for offering choices to patrons, and for creating an environment of collaboration and trust at the library. Originally presented November 18, 2019.

Applying Trauma-Informed Concepts to Reduce Harm: A PLA Social Worker Task Force Webinar
In this on-demand webinar (third in the series), members of the PLA Social Worker Task Force continue to explore trauma-informed services at the library. Previous webinars in the series looked at what a trauma-informed approach is and why it is important; this on-demand webinar focuses on how to implement a trauma-informed approach. Originally presented December 18, 2019.

Federal Resources

U.S. Departy of Justice: Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

Threat Intimidation Guide: Provides information about what to do if you’ve been threatened, including the FBI’s national hotline, 800-CALL-FBI  

Guides on emergency operations planning for schools, institutions of higher education, and houses of worship.

U.S. Department of Justice: Community Relations Service (CRS)

U.S. Department of Justice Community Relations Service: The Community Relations Service provides facilitation, mediation, training, and consultation services that improve communities’ abilities to problem solve and build capacity to prevent and respond to conflict, tension, and hate crimes based on race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, and disability.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security: Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)

CISA has resources available to assist with securing public gatherings, including businesses houses of worship, and schools, and to assist with preventing, protecting against, and responding to bombs and other explosives.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security: Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

FEMA offers faith-based and neighborhood partnerships resources and


U.S. Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Investigation, in-person threat, phoned threat, electronic message threat, cyber attacks

ALA Resources on Intellectual Freedom and Advocacy

ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom Flame

ALA Fight Censorship Resources
With the unprecedented surge in local and statewide book challenges, ALA offers this clearinghouse of resources to assist library workers and advocates in responding to and supporting others facing those challenges.

Unite Against Book Bans

Unite Against Book Bans
Unite Against Book Bans is a national initiative to empower readers everywhere to stand together in the fight against censorship. Share resources from the UABB Action Toolkit with your community and help defend the right to read for all Americans.

Survey question: Would you support or oppose efforts to remove books from local public libraries because some people find them offensive or inappropriate and do not think young people should be exposed to them?  All voters: Oppose: 71%; Support: 29%.   Democrats:  Oppose: 75%; Support: 25%.  Independents: Oppose: 58%; Support: 42%.  Republicans: Oppose: 70%; Support: 30%.

ALA voter survey on book banning
Read the key findings from a survey conducted by Hart Research Associates and North Star Opinion Research on behalf of the American Library Association among 1,000 voters and 472 parents of children in public school. The survey was conducted March 1 to 6, 2022, and the sample is demographically and geographically representative of U.S. voters and parents.

Screenshot of Legislative Toolkit:  Preparing for a legislative sesssion. Use this tool to ensure legislative committee members have key information regarding your state;s legislative session.  When is the legislative session? Do legislators hold pre-session meetings or hearings? When can bills be introduced? Can bills from previous sessions be carried over? Is there a limit on the number of bills a legislator can introduce?

State Legislative Toolkit

The State Legislative Toolkit offers advocates guidance to effectively navigate legislative sessions proactively, as well as respond to adverse legislation; tools and resources for developing well-written library policies; and more. Authored by the Public Policy and Advocacy Office, in partnership with the Office for Intellectual Freedom, the toolkit reflects input from ALA member groups across the association.

Looking for assistance with challenges to books or other materials in your library? Need help launching an advocacy campaign? See how the expertise of ALA divisions and offices can help.


The Merritt Fund, providing assistance to librarians- facing discrimination or defending intellectual freedom.

The Merritt Fund
The LeRoy C. Merritt Humanitarian Fund supports library workers whose employment is threatened due to their defense of intellectual freedom. Learn more about the fund in this blog post and donate if you can, or submit a request for assistance if you need it.