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The Role of the Library Trustee: On Policy and its Development

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The Role of the Library Trustee: On Policy and its Development

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  1. The Role of the Library Trustee: On Policy and its Development • Presented by Carolyn Ryan Reed, Director of the East Orange Public Library and George Britt, President, East Orange Public Library Board of Trustees for the Trustee Institute on October 3 and 4, 2003

  2. What is a policy? • Establishes the library’s philosophy, goals, value orientations and fundamental beliefs • A broad statement of the purpose, direction, and intent of the library • Policies keep units of the organization moving in the same direction • Policies are the “rules” under which you operate in pursuit of your goals

  3. What policy is not • Laws, rules, or requirements • Official actions or votes of the Board • Procedures

  4. The Board’s Role in Policy Making • Determine and adopt policies • Rely on the director and staff for suggestions and research. • Review policies on a regular basis and amend them as necessary • Develop new policies as needed and to eliminate obsolete policies • Review challenges to policy and conclude them

  5. The Director’s Role in Policy Making • Assist the board in setting policy - be knowledgeable • Implements the policies • Director and staff develop procedures and practices to deliver policies • Seeks staff “buy-in” • Interprets policies to staff and the public • Supports, explains and defends policy

  6. Benefits of Written policies • Avoid case-by-case decision making • Add consistency over time and from case- to- case • Give staff and the public a framework from which to operate – promote efficient operation • Reduce misunderstandings / interpretation • Provide the basis for procedures

  7. Characteristics of a good policy • Written • Fair, flexible • Clear • Positive • Widely available • Up-to-date

  8. What kinds of policies? • Administrative, personnel, financial • Buildings and facilities • Library services • Materials selection, retention • Internet use and access • Community relations • Use of professional services • Miscellaneous

  9. Board should review policies • Review policies on a periodic basis through policy committee and with director • Have a policy manual outlining the cycle and process of review • Available resources – sample of Burlington County Library Policy manual • Contact other libraries… review policies on library web pages / ALA/ NJLA resources www.ala.org; www.njla.org

  10. The Litigious Society • Liability of Director, Staff, Board • Have legal counsel available with knowledge of policies and case law • Support staff decisions on policy you approved • Support proper use of complaint procedures

  11. To Summarize • Have written policies and know them • Be sure you can support them / proper legal review • Allow for grievances • Review policies regularly for appropriate information • Use many available resources, including the State Library and NJLA