Written by Joe Armstrong, Content Specialist, Marketing, Downtown Main Library
When people hear the word “library” a few things typically come to mind, namely librarians and books. But a library is run by people working in many different roles. They’re all helping community members with much more than book recommendations. Our series Spend a Day with a Library Worker, opens a new window takes you inside the lives of our library staff in different roles and follows them on a typical workday.
The Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library system is one of the largest in the country. With more than 1 million square feet of space for customers to explore between 41 public libraries and our Distribution Center, Steve Causey and the Library’s Public Safety team ensure customers can safely learn without limits.
A Familiar and Friendly Face
When you visit the Downtown Main Library, chances are you’ll see Steve Causey walking throughout the building, making sure customers have a safe environment to explore the building and use of its resources. After 26 years working at the Library, many customers have come to know him well, making sure to stop and chat when he’s making rounds throughout the building.
“I’ve been here so long I’ve built relationships with many of our customers,” Steve says, “When I walk through the building I know many of our customers by name. I’ve watched customers grow from teens to adults and I now see them coming in with their children to the Library.”
For Steve, it’s these relationships that are key to building a safe, community-oriented environment. And it’s this part of his job he values the most.
“One of the best parts of my job is the chance to meet a lot of people and have the opportunity to make an impact. The Library is for everybody, not just one individual. We all come here to take advantage of the benefits the library offers.”
More than the Traditional Public Safety
Steve and the Library’s Public Safety team have a plan for almost anything. “Every day is unpredictable,” Steve says, “I’m keeping the building secure, helping customers with any questions they have, I never know what each day will bring.”
Some days bring a full movie crew to the Library, such as when The Public, opens a new window was being filmed while the Library remained open for customers. “That was one of the memories I’ll keep for the rest of my life. Who would have ever thought I’d be part of making a movie?”
Other days bring more serious safety challenges. “Our job goes beyond our Standards of Library Behavior, opens a new window. It’s our responsibility to enforce any public health mandates resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic to keep everyone safe and healthy in this public space.”
No matter the situation, Steve’s approach to public safety is through building connections with customers. “I’m more than what people think a Public Safety Specialist is normally. I’m also a listening ear. I find time to talk with customers. And through those conversations, I learn about customers and what their needs are which could be medical, housing, mental health, and other challenges we may be able to assist with.”
Steve is leading the way to implement a positive, proactive approach to interacting with the wide range of community members that come through our doors. Currently, Steve is helping to train library staff on the concept of restorative practices, which focuses on resolving conflict, repairing harm, and healing relationships.
Creating a Safe and Welcome Place for All
The Library’s Public Safety team works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to keep the Library a place for minds of all kinds. For Steve, it’s a true team effort, “No individual can do a good job without our entire team.”
As he walks through each floor of the Downtown Main Library, it’s easy to see what the Library means to him. “I consider this place sacred, a learning institution. Families and relations are forged just by coming to the public library.”
And with Steve on hand, customers can continue to expect a safe and welcoming Library ready for their next visit.
Interested in working at CHPL? Check out our current job openings, opens a new window.