Summer 2013

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Policy Spotlight

By Tim Gavin

Summer 2013 issue of Trustee

Designing a “Policy Development Template”

Policy development is a hard enough task to begin with, so simplify your starting point. Design a standard policy format and process — a “policy development template.” This will not only improve policy organization and make it easier to seek out policies, reference and update them — it will also make it easier for library staff and patrons to understand them. Additionally, it will ease the pathway for those who write the policies.

Example “Policy Development Template”:

First, answer the following questions . . .

Step 1: Why do you need to create a policy?

Step 2: Do you already have a similar policy which just needs to be updated or modified?

Step 3: Do you have a specific person (such as a “Policy Chair”) designated to draft a policy, to do policy research (such as looking through LTA’s Policy Database), and to check state/federal laws?

Once the previous steps have been completed, it should be easier to move on to the actual writing of the policy.

Written to the right, is a commonly used template to help organize thoughts, and

to help compose a strong, coherent policy:

Commonly suggested tips:

  1. The same policy template should be used for each policy that is created.

  2. Language used should be concise, simple and consistent (e.g. If a collection development policy refers to “weeding,” it shouldn’t be called “de-selection” in a different policy).

  3. Each policy should look similar in appearance (including font, font size, heading sizes, etc.)

  4. Policies should be organized by a table of contents in a hierarchy and grouped with policies in the same general category.

  5. Use policy numbers to help show relationships (e.g. A personnel policy might be titled “3.1 Duties of a Library Director,” while the next might be titled “3.2 Evaluation of a Library Director”).

  6. All policies should be able to stand on their own and each policy should start on separate page to help aid understanding, enforcement, retrieval and updating.








    APPLICATION: (Who does the policy affect — patrons, personnel, only certain personnel, trustees?)


    STATEMENT OF PURPOSE (sometimes alternatively worded “NEED FOR POLICY”):

    (This often refers back to the library’s mission Statement. Occasionally the library’s mission statement is included

    as a reference. This section not only serves as a reminder to patrons and staff as to why this policy is important, but reminds those who are drafting the policy to keep

    the library’s mission in mind.)


    POLICY: (The text of the policy.)


    RESPONSIBILITY: (Who will be responsible for

    ensuring policy compliance? Who will be responsible

    for drafting necessary procedures to ensure that the

    policy is properly and successfully implemented? )


    APPROVED: DD/MM/YYYY by the “X” Library Board of Trustees


    REVISED: DD/MM/YYYY by the “X” Library Board

    of Trustees


    REVIEWED BY/ON: (Legal Counsel and/or by a

    designated person after a period of time)

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