Policies 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.
Below are some recommended steps to create an enforceable policy for your library:
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.
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.
Research sample policies that are applicable to your library and community. See the Sample Library Policies box for resources.
Sample Library Policies
A web search using the terms "sample library policies" will quickly provide many examples.
There are a lot of decisions and choices to be made when working on Internet access policies for a library. When going through the process, use this site as a research tool, a brainstorming tool, and a way to educate co-workers and community members about Internet access policies and the library. The materials needed to get started, or for revising a policy, are all here.
All types of libraries are urged to draft, adopt and/or revise privacy and confidentiality policies. This document offers guidance for public, academic, research, school, and special libraries, as well as library systems. Special considerations are raised for school and academic libraries and for public library services to minors because each are affected by laws and practices unique to those particular contexts. Other considerations may also apply. When drafting a policy, library administrators should check with their parent institutions to ensure compliance with those institutions’ norms and policies. Some elements of this guidance may not pertain to all libraries.
ALA strongly encourages every library to adopt, implement and publicize a written Internet use policy in the same way it adopts other library use and access policies. This policy should be in keeping with your library's mission statement, other access policies and community needs.
Compiled by the Small Library Committee of the Wisconsin Association of Public Librarians, 2nd Edition, Revised by David L. Polodna, 1999 Converted to HTML by OWLS and posted with permission. Adapt the information to suit your needs.
Written by the Office for Intellectual Freedom at ALA. A good policy on the selection of materials will be relevant to your particular system and include basic sections on objectives, responsibility, criteria, procedures for selection, reconsideration of materials, and policies on controversial materials.
Many units of the American Library Association have developed documents that give advice to librarians on various aspects of library service. These documents may be called "standards " or "guidelines".
The ALA Policy Manual includes brief statements of policies adopted by the ALA Council. Where ALA has made a position statement applicable to the operation of libraries, ALA accepts that statement for its own relevant operations.