Policies are the rules and the principles that guide the operation and the use of the library. Education Department Regulations require that libraries adopt written policies as part of the public library minimum standards. Those policies must be reviewed every five years and policies are required to be posted on the library’s website.
The library board is responsible for creating such policies, reviewing and revising them, and ultimately enforcing them with the assistance of the library director and staff. While trustees alone have the legal authority to make policy, the process works best when the library director and other key staff are closely involved. The staff has an important role in researching options, drafting recommendations, and presenting them to the board for discussion and approval.
- Policies provide a mechanism for library managers and staff to translate the library’s service priorities into actions.
- Policies serve as the primary tool for ensuring that all staff has the information they need to do their jobs effectively.
Policies provide a way to ensure that all members of the public know what they can expect from the library and that they are treated equitably.
- Policies provide support for the library staff and members of the library’s governing body in the event of legal action.
- Policies contribute to the overall culture of an organization by instilling norms and values.
- Does the policy comply with current statutes?
- Is the Policy Reasonable (including reasonable penalties)?
- Could There Be Discriminatory Application of the Policy?
- Is the Policy Measurable?
The best way to create good policies is to take a team approach that includes library trustees and library staff. The library staff, often the director or manager, will play a key role in researching options and drafting recommendations to be shared with the library trustees for discussion and approval. It is a good idea to create a policy committee that works with library staff to develop policies that are presented to the full board for consideration.
It is a good idea to start with sample policies used by other libraries. The policy can be adapted to suit the needs of the library. CCLS is able to help libraries who have questions about how to adapt policies.
- Standard 4, Written Policies, requires that each library has board-approved written policies for the operation of the library, but this standard does not define which policies a library should have. This decision is at the discretion of the board and decided at the local level. However, the State Library requires the following policies be adopted by all association and public libraries at the time of registration and this list serves as a good guide on what to policies to include. Libraries are encouraged to contact CCLS with questions.
- Code of Ethics
- Collection Development
- Confidentiality of Library Records
- Conflict of Interest Policy
- Disaster Response Policy
- Internet Use/Safety Policy
- Meeting Space Policy (Exception: if the library does not have a meeting room)
- Open Meeting Policy
- Personnel Policy
- Whistle Blower Policy (required only for certain libraries)
- Libraries should also consider including:
- Standard 11: Provides access to current library information requires libraries to post the following board approved information online:
- Long Range Plan
- Annual Report to the Community
- CCLS also encourages libraries to post board meeting minutes
- Helpful Information for Meeting Minimum Public Library Standards
- Public Library Collection Management Policy Template and Guide (PDF/Word). Presented by PULISDO & Empire State Library Network.
- This can include your policy on requests for reconsideration, weeding, gifts and donations
- Think about Collection Development not just as selecting library materials, but maintenance of the collection.
- What type of collection are you building for your community? Look to mission statement for guidance
- Who selects items for purchase?
- What types of material do you buy?
- What sources are consulted in the selection process?
Consider these questions when developing your policy:
- Do you have a patron complaint form?
- Where will complaints be directed?
- What is the process for handling a complaint?
- Does the board become involved? If so, when?
- How is the patron followed up with?