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Library Policy Development: General

When developing policies, each library needs to consider the community that it serves.

Library Policy Development

Icon of sheet of paper with text that reads Library Policy DevelopmentPolicies have several functions in today’s complex organizations. Their statements help define the values of the organization, and they help managers and staff translate those values into service priorities. Policies establish a standard for services that can be understood by users of the service and providers. Policies ensure equitable treatment for all, and polices provide a framework for delivery of services. When policies have been adopted by a library’s governing agents in a formal process and are consistent with local, state, and federal laws, they will be enforceable.

This resource guide provides basic first steps on developing a library policy, as well as directories for policy guidance organizations, resources on sample policies, and a selected bibliography on policy development. 

First Steps

Below are some recommended steps to create an enforceable policy for your library:

  1. Contact the library development office of your state library.  The staff in that office will help you with policies that build on the laws in your state. See the Resources box for a directory of state libraries.
  2. Review the Positions and Public Policy Statements approved by the Council of the American Library Association.  These cover such topics as Services and Responsibilities of Libraries, Intellectual Freedom, Library Personnel Practices, and Library Services for the Poor.  When you reference these, be sure to cite the most current version. See the Resources box for links to the ALA Guidelines and Standards and the ALA Policy Manual.
  3. Research sample policies that are applicable to your library and community. See the Sample Library Policies box for resources. 

Sample Library Policies