Effective policies are not so much created as they are developed. As soon as a policy is approved, the work continues and the process of analyzing effectiveness and implementation begins. Without this follow up, the strength of a policy’s usefulness is open for debate.

A policy is only as effective as how well it is created and implemented – and this directly correlates to how accessible, relevant, and clearly communicated the policy process was from its inception.

This article provides some frequently used policy development and implementation reminders. Below is a checklist which is intended to reduce confusion and stress and to help ensure that all bases have been covered

I. Prior to Drafting a Policy:

Call for a Policy

  • Why is a new policy necessary?
  • Have similar policies already been drafted which only need revision?
  • Does the proposed policy relate back to the library’s mission and by-laws in a clear way?
  • What is the motive for the policy?

Initial Considerations

  • Who will draft the policy and why that person?
  • Is the policy solution-oriented and is there a clear statement of purpose?
  • Is it clear who the policy will affect?
    Is it clear who will administer the policy and draft necessary procedures?
  • Is it clear how and why the policy will help provide a solution to an existing or anticipated issue?


  • Does the policy use terminology that is consistent with other policies?
  • Is the policy jargon free and simple enough to
    understand on its own?
  • Is the policy concise or should it be broken down further?
  • Has the policy been clearly communicated to all affected parties?

Feedback – Prior to Implementation

  • Has legal compliance been addressed?
  • Have potentially affected library personnel or
    patrons been asked to share opinions?
  • Have local officials been invited to share feedback?
  • Have potential fears by personnel or patrons been addressed and allayed?
  • Who should be contacted if there are concerns?
  • How will the “success” of implementation be
  • Have all concerns been adequately addressed and assessed – and communicated?
  • Has the policy been reviewed by second parties? (e.g. lawyer, system director, consultant, library personnel).

II. After Policy Approval:

Feedback — Post Implementation

  • Based on pre-defined measurements, how successful was implementation?
  • Do the measurements need to be adjusted?
  • Have affected parties been interviewed to assess ideas for improvements?


  • Are patrons and staff aware that the policy exists?
  • Can personnel easily access the policy in order to make appropriate decisions?

III. Review and Revision

  • Based on measurements/feedback, does the policy need to be adjusted?
  • Has the policy been reviewd annually or within a predefined schedule?
  • Is the policy still relevant?