Much of a trustee's work deals with policy - making policies, reviewing policies, interpreting policies, enforcing policies and monitoring their effectiveness.

Policies set the direction for the library and protect it from misunderstandings. They are broad, philosophical guidelines, rather than specific procedures, addressing such areas as personnel, collection management, operations, program development and intellectual freedom.

Library policies should be based on community needs, the library mission statement and established goals; they should not be a reaction to specific problems that arise.

A good set of written Board policies:

Balances library resources and customer needs.

Promotes consistency.

Eliminates the need for instant (crisis) policy making.

Clarifies Board member, director and staff roles.

Trustees are responsible for making and adopting library policies, but policy development is best done in conjunction with the director and staff. Policies should be clearly written, organized in a policy manual and made available to the staff and the public. The manual can be kept at the circulation or reference desk.

In addition, every trustee should have a copy of the policy manual and be completely familiar with the rationale for each statement. You need to thoroughly understand the policies to knowledgeably adopt new or revise existing ones. Also, you may be called upon to defend or interpret policies to the public or governing officials.

Your Board should follow established policies but keep in mind that things change. The community's economic conditions or the growth or decline of the population, for example, may justify changes in library policies. Therefore, it is important for your Board to conduct periodic community analysis studies and be flexible enough to revise or change policies as needed. An annual review will help ensure that the policies are accurate and up-to-date.

The State Library can answer questions your Board might have on developing policies and provide you with samples of specific policies developed by other libraries.