Annual review of policies

The 2012 Kansas Public Library Standards says, “Copies of bylaws and policies are provided to every member of the library board, the library director, and the library staff. All library board members annually read and review bylaws and policies.”

These standards list topics all library policies should cover. This handbook lists these topics along with links to real examples found online.

In his Library Policy Review Manual, Jim Swan describes two reasons for rewriting policies.
  1. Problems with current policies: loopholes, imprecise wording, negative public (or staff) response, problems in enforcing.

  2. Changes in circumstances: new board members with different outlooks, new laws, new library programs and services, and changes in technology.
Well written policies have the following characteristics.
  • Reflect the library’s mission, goals and objectives

  • Empowers everyone to use of the library and access its materials

  • Presents a positive image of the library

  • Complies with local, state and federal laws

  • Consistent and fair application to everyone, including the staff.
    • Room for inconsistent application: Patrons losing library materials may be asked to pay for them.

    • Requires consistent application: Patrons losing library materials will be charged the replacement costs.

  • Clear, concise language leaving no room for different interpretations.
    • Ambiguous policy: Patrons may borrow books and audiotapes for a period of three or two weeks.

    • Unambiguous policy: Patrons may borrow books for three weeks and audiotapes for two weeks.

    • Ambiguous policy: Overdue fine is $.05 a day. This fine doubles every seven days and continues accruing. (One ambiguity is how long do fines continue doubling and accruing.)

    • Unambiguous policy: Overdue fine are $.05 a day. Fines accrue until they exceed item's replacement cost. Patrons are not charged fines greater than the item’s replacement cost.

  • Implementation is plausible
    • Difficult to implement because of direct board involvement: Trustees will give or deny permission of all postings on bulletin board.

    • Board makes policy, library staff implement policy: Library has self-posting bulletin boards. Library staff review postings regularly and remove obsolete items or items conflicting with board policies.