This information below & much more can be found in the Trustee Handbook.


Library Policies

Policymaking is perhaps the most difficult part of a trustee’s job, requiring an open mind, a thoughtful study of the issues involved and a deep understanding of the library’s mission and of the community it serves. In addition, clearly reasoned and written, up-to-date policies provide the Library with critical legal protection.

Policies are the rules and the principles that guide the operation and the use of the library. Though state law specifies just a few specific policies, they are required by Commissioner’s Regulation 90.2 as part of the public library minimum standards. The library board is responsible for creating such policies, reviewing and revising them, and ultimately enforcing them with the assistance of the library staff. Policies must be clearly written and understandable.

All policies should include a process by which the board can respond to public comments or complaints. Policies are, in effect, the rules of the library and should not be confused with procedures, which are an administrative function and describe how things are done.

It is a good idea to categorize the library’s policies into internal (such as personnel, disaster planning, financial controls, etc.) and external (dealing with the public).  These areas can be further broken down to suit your library’s particular organizational structure.  There are many good resources for policy development, especially your public library system.

Typically, library boards have written policy statements in the following areas, as well as a policy and procedure for a regular review of policies.

Internal policies:

  • Confidentiality of library records;
  • Emergency procedures (i.e.: building evacuation, flood control, etc.);
  • Personnel policies, including detailed job descriptions, terms and conditions of employment, hours of work, employee benefits, evaluation procedures, working conditions, grievance procedures, sexual harassment, etc.
  • Nepotism
  • Purchasing
  • Investment of public funds;
  • Public Relations;
  • Continuing education of staff and trustees;
  • Volunteers;
  • Fundraising, gifts, memorials and their disposition;
  • Records Retention
  • Code of Ethics and Conflict of Interest.

External Policies:

Patron complaints;

  • Procedure for challenges to library materials;
  • Censorship;
  • Non-resident use;
  • Hours and days of operation;
  • Lending rules and procedures;
  • Collection development and weeding;
  • Acceptable patron behavior;
  • Unattended children policy and procedures;
  • Acceptable use of the Internet and electronic resources;
  • Use of meeting rooms, exhibits, and display space;
  • Public access to records

All policies should be able to stand alone and be dated for the original adoption and the last review and/or revision.  They should be recorded, compiled, and organized for ready access in a policy manual. Every trustee should have a copy of the policy manual and must be familiar with its contents. A thorough understanding of the library’s policies is the foundation from which to adopt new policies, revise old ones, and interpret or defend the library’s rules.

Personnel policies are critical to any successful operation and must be consistent and in conformance with applicable state and federal law. Each library staff member should receive a copy of the personnel policies at the time of employment. A written acknowledgement of receipt is important.