Public Library Board Policies: Requirements, Templates and Examples
Policies provide shape to the library service your staff provides. Good policy benefits your library in several ways:
Good policy is proactive. It allows your board to set rules for your library based on principles. This is better than reacting to unexpected incidents that occur in the library (though some policies may be written in response to incidents).
- Good policy ensures consistency in the way you deliver services and treat employees and patrons, and can help prevent legal problems.
- Good policy provides direction to your employees as they manage the day-to-day operations of the library. It gives staff security knowing that their actions reflect the will of the board.
To ensure they meet the changing needs of your community, your Board should regularly review and updat its policies.
Section 7 of the Libraries Regulation identifies ten policies that your library board must have in place. These required policies are listed below. If your library board does not directly operate a service point (i.e. a public library), you only need the first three policies.
The list below also contains links to sample policies you can modify to suit your local needs.
- Confidentiality of User Records - Sample Policy
- Your board must keep user records confidential, except when required by law.
- It is best practice to require a written legal order before disclosing user records to law enforcement officers.
- Your board must also follow the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIP) Act.
- Orientation and Continuing Education of Board and Staff
- Sample Board Orientation and Continuing Education Policy
- Sample Staff Orientation and Continuing Education Policy
- Board members and staff should attend regular training to keep skills current and keep up-to-date on library trends.
- This policy must include direction on reimbursement for attendance at library meetings, conferences, workshops and courses; and for memberships in library associations.
- Finance - Sample Policy
- Library boards have full management and control of their libraries. They have a legal responsibility to manage their finances.
- Your policy must include directions on reimbursement of expenses and a list of signing officers.
- Sample Performance Evaluation, Grievance, and Hours of Work Policies
- Sample Job Descriptions for Library Manager and Library Volunteer
- If you hire staff, your board is an employer and has all the associated legal responsibilities.
- Your board must follow employment laws and regulations including the Employment Standards Code and Regulation, the Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) Act, and the federal Human Rights Act.
- Your personnel policies must include job descriptions for employees and volunteers, directions on performance appraisals for employees and volunteers, qualifications for staff positions, working hours, conditions of employment, and a grievance procedure.
- Collection Development - Sample Policy
- This policy must include directions on the selection, acquisition, purchase, and disposition of library resources of all kinds (books, magazines, DVDs, etc.).
- This policy must also include a section on gifts and donations.
- Resource Sharing - Sample Policy
- Sharing resources with other libraries greatly increases the amount of materials your patrons can access.
- This policy must include a statement on participation in the Provincial Library Network and the conditions that apply to library resources and information acquired from other libraries.
- Provision of Resources for Those Unable to use Conventional Print - Sample Policy
- This patron group includes not just visually impaired patrons, but also patrons who may physically be unable to use a conventional book or patrons with a cognitive disability, among others.
- This policy must include provision for cooperation with other community agencies (schools, hospitals, etc.).
- Loan of Resources - Sample Policy
- This policy must include directions on how library materials will be loaned to the public for use outside the library (e.g. check-in and check-out policies).
- Hours of Service - Sample Policy
- If your board has more than one library branch, you must list the open hours for each branch.
- Meeting Room Policy - Sample Policy
- If your board has a meeting room or other space not normally used for library purposes, there must be a policy on who can use that space. This policy usually includes rental procedures for a meeting room or similar space.
Your board may create other policies to suit your local needs (e.g. public computer use, other personnel policies).
The document Policies and Bylaws: A Guide for Alberta Public Library Boards (published September 2017) can also help you develop effective policies for your board.