Making Policy

Good policy is "developed" rather than just "written." Development includes these steps:

Identify the need.

Define the issue.

Ask yourself if the Board is the right body to deal with the issue.

Identify alternative ways of dealing with the issue.

Examine the consequences of each alternative.

Determine the value of each alternative.

Consider what the policy says about the library.

Select the alternative that best expresses the Board's and the community's values.

After a policy is proposed, determine if it is:


consistent with the library's mission statement?

within the scope of the Board's authority?

consistent with local, state and federal law?

compatible with other policies?


broad enough to cover the subject completely?



When you are ready to write the policy:

Establish a committee of trustees and the director/staff to prepare a draft.

Seek comments on the draft; those contributing to making policy are more likely to accept and implement it.

Compile comments and present a recommendation to the Board.

Reach final consensus on the final draft; make sure wording and intent are clear.

Adopt the policy at a scheduled open meeting of the Board.

Publish and distribute the policy.

Train staff on new policy if needed.

Review effects of the policy in six months or a year.

4 Tests of a Good Policy

It's legal - the policy complies with all local, state, and federal laws.

It's fair - the consequences of violating the policy should not be excessive.

It's clear and concise - the language should be clear enough that the average person can understand the consequences. It should also be clear enough that staff members can enforce the policy.

It's consistent - the policy should apply equally to everyone. It should not favor one group over another.

Library policies cover all aspects of the operation:

the what, when, where and how, frequently the who, and sometimes the why.