Library Safety & Security Pre-Con

Library Safety & Security Pre-Con - Nov. 8, 2023 


This one-day convening for library directors will precede Library Journal’s Directors’ Summit and will build on the learnings from our April 23 Library Safety Summit and Fall online library safety courses.  


This peer-led program will explore equity-centered and trauma-informed safety and security solutions for libraries, and will prioritize tangible, actionable information and networking, including facilitated breakout groups where attendees can discuss and workshop safety policies and procedures. More details to come! 


Who should attend: The pre-con is designed for director-level leaders in public and academic libraries but is open to any library professional with a stake or interest in library safety and security.  


LJ is aware of Texas' decision to cut ties with the American Library Association. Over the years we have run into similar situations where a particular state in which LJ was planning to host an event adopted policies or laws that were in opposition to library values.  


LJ strongly believes that our colleagues in these states need our support the most, and the content and conversation at this year’s Summit in Houston will reflect that—along with other critical issues for challenging times. The show of solidarity with our Houston colleagues is particularly important right now, and we hope that attending library leaders will be able to offer their encouragement as well. 



Interested In Sponsoring? Please contact Advertising Director Roy Futterman:



9:00–9:45 AM




9:45-10:00 AM





Hallie Rich|Editor-in-Chief, Library Journal 

John Middleton|Assistant Director, Houston Public Library (TX)  


10:00-10:45 AM 










This panel will highlight the progress, changes, and updates to library safety that three directors have made since attending LJ’s Public Library Safety Summit in Columbus, OH in April. Leaders will share insights they gained, new practices they have applied, what challenges they still face, and what lies ahead.  

Mary Jo Giudice|Director, Dallas Public Library (TX)  

Bridget Quinn|President and CEO, Hartford Public Library (CT)  

David Seckman|Director, Jeffersonville Township Public Library 

Moderator: Lisa Peet|Executive Editor, Library Journal


10:45-11:00 AM




11:00-11:10 AM


SPONSOR SPOTLIGHT: QUIPU Melissa Stockton|Partner, Quipu Group 


11:10 – 11:55 AM







Restorative justice is an approach to addressing harm and conflict that focuses on healing, repairing relationships, and promoting accountability. Led by a restorative  justice expert, this session will detail the practical applications of the practice as a library safety tool.  


Stephen Jackson|Director of Equity and Anti-racism, Oak Park Public Library (IL) 


11:55 - 12:10 PM 




12:10 - 1:10 PM






1:10 -1:55 PM   












This panel will highlight the roles of empathy and relationships to compassionate security work, ranging from dealing with individual patrons to establishing official partnerships. This panel will showcase different examples and explore community relationships and partnerships—both formal and informal—that support safer libraries and communities.  


Eddie Kristan|Adult Services Librarian, Arlington Heights Memorial Library, IL 

Katherine Newman|CRESS, Implementation Manager, MA 

Sharon Sharry, Director|Jones Public Library, MA 

Rob Simmons|Director of Social Services and Public Safety, Oak Park Public Library, IL 

Moderator: Annie Miskewitch|Executive Director, Schaumburg Township District Library, IL 


1:55-2:05 PM




2:10-3:00 PM













Breakout Option 1: This is an opportunity for a facilited Q&A with your peers. Ask questions that are top of mind and crowdsourced solutions from each other during this small group discussion.            

Facilitator: Angela Craig| Executive Director, Charleston County Public Library, SC 



Breakout Option 2: This is an opportunity to get into the details and workshop your current policies and procedures. Please bring one or more of your current safety policies or procedures for which you’d like feedback. 

Facilitator: Joel Jones| Deputy Director Library Services, Kansas City Public Library, MO 


3:00-3:20 PM




3:20-4:05 PM










How can leaders best communicate to staff and others about a crisis situation, and what should leaders keep in mind to support staff before, during, and after an incident? How can leaders empower their teams, especially front-line staff, to make decisions and manage certain safety concerns? This “nuts and bolts” panel will get into the details of how to lead staff through crises and crisis communications. 


Sonia Alcantara-Antoine|CEO, Baltimore Public Library, MD 

Lauren Comito|Neighborhood Library Supervisory, Brooklyn Public Library, NY 

Moderator|Mary Jo Giudice, Director, Dallas Public Library, NY 


4:05-4:20 PM




4:20-5:00 PM










A panel of Houston Public Library's Safety, Security, and Wellness taskforce will discuss the many balancing acts involved in maintaining a safe and compassionate library. This conversation will cover the complex tensions that can arise with these topics, including balancing local politics and state legislation, managing staff and the safety policies they might disagree with, and supporting staff mental and physical wellness alongside potentially traumatic     situations.  

John Middleton|Assistant Director, Houston Public Library, TX 

Saima Kadir|Chief of Central Library, Houston Public Library, TX 

Roberto Zapata|Assistant Director of Customer Experience, Houston Public Library, TX 

Moderator: Angela Craig|Executive Director, Charleston County Public Library, SC 


5:00 PM



Closing Remarks 

Hallie Rich|Editor-in-Chief, Library Journal 






    Sonia Alcántara-Antoine is the CEO of Baltimore County Public Library (MD) and is the president of the Public Library Association.  She was named as one of the Top 100 Women in Maryland.  Previously she was director of Newport News Public Library (VA).  Sonia is an American Library Association Spectrum Scholar, and holds a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science from Florida State University and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Old Dominion University.       


Cale Atkinson is an illustrator, writer and animator living lakeside in Kelowna, British Columbia, whose books include Sir Simon: Super Scarer, Where Oliver Fits, Monsters 101, Unicorns 101, and the Simon and Chester graphic novel series to name a few. Cale is assisted in his artistic endeavors by Charlie, a wise and noble floof.



    Lauren Comito is a cape wearing, sword swinging, activist librarian in NYC. Lauren is currently Executive Director of Urban Librarians Unite and Branch Manager at the Leonard Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library. She is committed to creating space for communities to connect and grow, whether in her neighborhood or among library workers.    

    Angela Craig has been Executive Director of the Charleston County Public Library since April 2019. Under her leadership CCPL has been consistently ranked among the top libraries in the U.S. in Library Journal’s Index of Public Library Service. In 2022 CCPL received the coveted five-star rating in its peer group, the highest star rating awarded by the Library Journal, and is the only five-star library in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia or Florida.     

    Etta Easton is a certified hopeless romantic who now writes contemporary romance. Her stories are full of humor, relatable heroines, swoon-worthy heroes, and Black joy. She lives in Central Texas with her husband and two young kids.    

    Paul Gilligan writes and draws the syndicated comic strip Pooch Cafe with Andrews McMeel, which runs in over 250 newspapers around the world and has been twice nominated by the National Cartoonist Society for best strip. He is the author-illustrator of the Pluto Rocket series, King of the Mole People and its sequel, Rise of the Slugs. He also has other animated shows in development with Guru Animation and The Cartoon Network. Paul is based in Toronto, Ontario.    



Jo Giudice has been director of Dallas Public Library for 10 years of her 19.5 year career at DPL. Starting as a branch manager, and working all aspects of public service around the system has given her great insight into the challenges staff face daily. She is proud to have received her MLIS from the University of South Carolina and her BS from the University of Florida. She is an avid hiker and would rather be outdoors with her two grandsons, Oscar & Wells. 


    Stephen Jackson is a motivational speaker, consultant, licensed professional counselor, and Director of Equity and Anti-Racism at Oak Park Public Library (IL). He values public service and contributing to people’s lives through utilizing both Restorative Justice and Restorative Practices to create positive and safe cultures for organizations and communities.     


Joel Jones has worked in public libraries for over 30 years. Serving in multiple roles including video librarian and branch manager. He has a bachelors in Business Administration from the University of Kansas and a MLIS from the University of North Texas.


    Saima Kadir is the Chief of Central Library, part of the Houston Public Library (HPL system. She has been with HPL for more than 15 years in numerous leadership roles. A consummate librarian, Saima is a firm believer in democracy and freedom to read.     


Chrissie Krebs is the creator of the first Bizard book, Bizard the Bear Wizard, which was a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection. She is also a toymaker and has written and illustrated several picture books, including Pig in a Wig and There's Something Weird in Santa's Beard. She also illustrated Rodney Loses It by Gerard Bauer, which was named a CBCA Children’s Book of the Year for Early Childhood. 



Eddie Kristan (he/him) worked as the head of safety & security at the Warren-Newport Public Library from 2014 through 2020. He was named Library Journal Mover & Shaker Community Builder in 2020 for his work in empathetic and trauma informed service to both library patrons and staff. He focuses on proactively understanding the burdens that patrons carry into library interactions and treating staff as the most important resource to be both highly valued and warmly applied to those needs. Eddie is now an Information Services Librarian at Arlington Heights Memorial Library and continues to advocate for trauma and disparity informed procedures for safety, security, and access. 


    John Middleton rejoined HPL in 2013 and serves as Assistant Director of Spaces for HPL. John’s responsibilities include overseeing and coordinating the multiple components involved with managing HPL’s Capital Improvement Projects and budget. Additionally, he oversees facilities management and security, interfacing with the General Services Department, other City of Houston departments and offices, and community groups.     


    Annie Miskewitch has more than 30 years of experience in public libraries. From her start as an enthusiastic shelver to now serving as the passionate executive director of Schaumburg Township District Library, Annie has always been an ardent supporter of libraries and intellectual freedom, as well as public safety. Annie believes in the power libraries have to make a difference in one's life, and she is truly grateful to see how Schaumburg Library makes a difference daily.     

    Kat Newman has worked in non-profit, higher education, and municipal for over a decade specializing in youth development, community outreach, and peer-based model interventions focusing on self-harm reduction, suicide prevention, and reducing high-risk drinking. She currently serves as the Implementation Manger for the Community Responders for Equity, Safety, and Service (CRESS) Department, a public safety department in the Town of Amherst, MA. When not working, Kat enjoys spending time with her dog Brady and competitively powerlifting.       


Lisa Peet joined Library Journal in 2014 as Associate News Editor after earning her MLS from Pratt Institute, NY. Previously she served as Editor and Researcher at the American Museum of Natural History's Darwin Manuscripts Project, and Editor and Archival Assistant at The New Leader. She is a Senior Writer and cofounder of Bloom, a website highlighting authors who first published or switched gears at age 40 or older.



    Bridget E. Quinn is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Hartford Public Library. Prior to joining HPL in 2016, Ms. Quinn served as the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer and Interim President/CEO of the Queens Public Library. She also served as the Executive Director of the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library system and has held leadership positions in libraries in New York, Iowa and Connecticut.     


Hallie Rich is the editor-in-chief of Library Journal. Prior to her role with LJ, she served as chief communications and external relations officer at Cuyahoga County (Ohio) Public Library, where she was responsible for marketing, fundraising and government relations for one of the nation's top-rated public library systems. Rich graduated magna cum laude from the College of Wooster and earned an M.S. in Positive Organizational Development from Case Western Reserve University. She holds an M.L.I.S. from the University of South Carolina. An active library advocate, Hallie has served as an American Library Association (ALA) policy fellow, member of ALA's Committee on Library Advocacy, and as a member of the ALA Policy Corps. 



    David Seckman is the Director of the Jeffersonville Township Public Library in Southern Indiana.  He has been the Director at JTPL for 3 years and seeks out new ways for the library to engage and collaborate with the community.  David is passionate about promoting more kindness, gratitude, love, and joy in the world.       



Jo Segura lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and doggo, who vies for her attention with his sweet puppy dog eyes whenever she is trying to write (her dog, that is... though sometimes her husband, too). Her stories feature strong, passionate heroines and draw upon aspects of her life, such as her love of good food, her Mexican heritage, and her fascination with archaeology. When she is not writing you can find her practicing law, shaking up a mean cocktail, or sitting out on the patio doing Buzzfeed quizzes (though she does not care what the chicken nugget quiz said--her favorite fruit is not banana). 


    Sharon Sharry is a Library Director with over 30 years’ experience working in Massachusetts public libraries.  She is currently the Director of the Jones Library, located in Amherst, Massachusetts, where she is overseeing a $44 million expansion and renovation project.  Outside of work, she enjoys drinking a glass of wine (in order to decompress from said building project!) while watching Marvel movies with her husband and daughter.     

    Rob Simmons started his role as Director of Social Services and Public Safety at Oak Park Public Library (IL) in March of 2016. Rob is one of the first social workers hired to integrate a social services model into a public library system in the United States. His innovative work has resulted in programs that provide resources such as: free mental health assessments and counseling, educational support for low-income students, supportive housing advocacy, and employment assistance. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Human and Organizational Development from Vanderbilt University, and a Master’s degree in Social-Service Administration from The University of Chicago.     

    Zachary M. Stafford needs no introduction because he has nobody. He is amorphous and covered in grease which is his only means of defense. He has a fear of commitment and sleeps with one eye open, and when he wakes up the eye is very dry, and he needs to put eye-drops in it.      

    Dr. Jennifer Tullos (she/her) is a content developer, researcher, and educator in English and the Humanities working to advocate for equity-centered programs and practices. She has over 13 years of experience teaching and developing curricula in educational, nonprofit, and corporate contexts. Jenn holds a PhD in English from Illinois State University with an emphasis in queer young adult literature and pedagogy, and she currently serves as the Director of Online Courses for Library Journal and School Library Journal    

    Roberto Zapata has been with the Houston Public Library for 9 years. In his current role as Assistant Director of Customer Experience, he provides leadership and oversight for all neighborhood libraries and the Central Library. His priority is to ensure that all customers have a great and memorable experience at the library.     





Myiesha Speight holds a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in English with a minor in History from Winston-Salem State University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. In 2019, she received her Master's of Library and Information Science with a specialization in Diversity and Inclusion from the University of Maryland College Park’s iSchool located in College Park, Maryland. Myiesha Speight is currently a Book Reviewer for SLJ




Jen Hubert Swan (@ReadingRants) is a former middle school, current high school librarian, author, adjunct professor, professional reviewer, and veteran ALA book committee member. She has been gushing about books for teens at Reading Rants since 1998 (!) In her spare time when she is not reading, writing or taking long river walks with her husband and dog, she watches way too much BRAVO reality TV, collects original SVH paperbacks, and eats out as often as possible in the Hudson Valley’s amazeballs restaurants. 







We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing