Chapter 4: Developing Guidelines (RUSA Plans and Procedures)

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  • 1 Chapter 4: Guidelines
  • 1.1 Procedures for Guideline Creation
  • 1.2 RUSA Board Review of Guidelines
  • 1.3 Publication of Approved Guidelines
  • 1.4 Four-Year Review of Guidelines
  • 1.5 Procedures for Guideline Revision
  • 1.6 Sunsetting Guidelines
  • 1.7 Appendices
    • 1.7.1 Model Outline for RUSA Guidelines
    • 1.7.2 Checklist for Creation or Revision of RUSA Guidelines
    • 1.7.3 Supporting Documentation Checklist

1.1 Procedures for Guideline Creation

The RUSA Professional Resources Committee (abbreviated as P/R within this document), coordinates the development of all RUSA guidelines. ALA Bylaws permit only type-of-library divisions to adopt technical standards. RUSA, as a type-of-activity division, may write guidelines only. All guidelines are approved at the division level. ALA Bylaws in Article VI. Section 3.d. specify: Type-of-activity divisions may develop and adopt technical standards as official ALA standards. Type-of-activity divisions may participate in the development of nontechnical standards by type-of library divisions but nontechnical standards may be adopted, or approved as official ALA standards, only by type-of-library divisions. A RUSA unit or Committee should complete the following tasks to submit a new guideline for approval:

  1. Identify the audience, define the need, and determine that the Committee has the expertise and background to develop a guideline.
  2. Notify the RUSA Executive Director of the intent to develop a new guideline.
  3. Request that the chair of P/R appoint a liaison from the P/R Committee . The liaison should provide advice and guidance throughout the review process.
  4. Develop a quality draft for P/R review:
    • Follow the content and formatting of 1.7.1 Model Outline for RUSA Guidelines.
    • Consult 1.7.2 Checklist for Creation or Revision of RUSA Guidelines.
    • Include the following: goal(s), structure, purpose, intended audience, type of guideline (service, performance, technical, or procedural), content and organization.
    • Include 1.7.3 Supporting Documentation Checklist, documenting activity to date.
  5. Distribute the quality draft for comment. Copies should go to:
    • Section chair, if appropriate
    • RUSA executive director
    • RUSA PR chair
  6. If recommended by the P/R Committee :
    • Attend a meeting of the P/R Committee to discuss the draft and receive feedback about content, format, style, and other editorial matters. Then, review comments and incorporate necessary revisions.
    • Invite comments on the draft from RUSA membership and relevant Committee s/groups via email, electronic discussion lists, or public hearing at an ALA conference, as appropriate.
  7. Submit a revised draft to the P/R Committee . This process is iterative until the draft is in a satisfactory final state.
  8. If the P/R Committee approves the final draft, it will be forwarded to the chair of the appropriate RUSA section executive Committee for section approval. The section chair will send written confirmation of approval or disapproval to the chair of the P/R Committee and to the originating unit or Committee chair.
  9. If approved by the RUSA section, the P/R Committee chair will present the final draft, and the Supporting Documentation Checklist, to the RUSA executive director at least one month prior to the board meeting at which consideration by the RUSA Board is expected. The RUSA executive director will distribute it to the RUSA Board.
  10. If the P/R Committee finds the final draft unacceptable and an impasse is reached after discussion with the originating unit or Committee , the P/R Committee will transmit its findings to the originating unit or Committee , the RUSA section, and the RUSA Board for final review.

1.2 RUSA Board Review of Guidelines

Upon approval by the originating unit or Committee , the appropriate RUSA section executive Committee , and the P/R Committee , the P/R Chair will notify the RUSA executive director that all have found the guideline acceptable and consistent with existing RUSA guidelines. If only minimal editing is required, approval notification may proceed. The RUSA Board may now formally act on it.

1.3 Publication of Approved Guidelines

If approved by the RUSA Board, the RUSA executive director will submit the approved guideline to the editor(s) of RUSQ for publication. The executive director will also post the guideline on the RUSA Web site.

1.4 Four-Year Review of Guidelines

After guidelines are approved by the RUSA Board, the Professional Resources Committee will initiate a guideline review at four year intervals. A guideline review allows the opportunity for a guideline to be continued as is, revised, or sunsetted.

1.5 Procedures for Guideline Revision

Those working to revise a guideline should notify the RUSA Executive Director of their effort and follow 1.1 Procedures for Guideline Creation.

1.6 Sunsetting Guidelines

The four-year guideline review may result in a recommendation to approve guidelines as is, revise, or sunset the guideline. The P/R Committee also may recommend that the RUSA Board sunset any guideline that has not be reviewed by the end of the fifth year. A proposed guideline may be dropped if a final draft is not presented within three years. Sunetted guidelines may be archived in the Professional Resources ALA Connect page.

1.7 Appendices

1.7.1 Model Outline for RUSA Guidelines

Introduction Guidelines serve as an authoritative document offering suggested levels of performance or adequacy. They outline a recommended course of action. Unlike standards that carry the weight of a rule, guidelines describe measures to help libraries meet the requirements of a standard. Include in the introduction the purpose or objectives of the document, the need which justified development of the guideline, the scope, and the audience or group which the guideline serves. Body of Document Style: Use short, declarative sentences. Avoid lengthy descriptive phrases. Avoid passive voice. Format: The format of the guideline should follow those recommended in the ALA Standards Manual. Number the sections in sequential order, with secondary ideas listed under general statements. For example: 2.0 Personnel 2.1 Qualifications of Professional and Support Staff 2.2 Staff Development Each numbered section may have a header with a statement or paragraph(s) underneath, or may have a main section header with a numbered statement/paragraph underneath. Example 1: Headers with statements/ paragraphs following 1.0 Services The goal of information service is to provide an end-product: the information sought by the user. Information service should not only meet but also anticipate user needs. It should encourage user awareness of the potential information resources that fulfill individual information needs.

  • Instruction

The library should provide instruction in the effective use of its resources. Such instruction can range from the individual explanation, creation of guides in appropriate media to formal assistance through interpretive tours and group presentations. Example 2: Main section header with numbered statements or paragraphs following 3.0 Access 3.1 The library should arrange information services according to a coherent plan taking into account read accessibility to users. Avoid detail beyond three numbered divisions (e.g. 1.1.2) to prevent making the document cumbersome and difficult to follow. 1.0 Content 1.1 A RUSA guideline should incorporate benchmarks or yardsticks by which a particular library or information service, resources, or material may be judged. 1.1.2 The library should provide users with complete, accurate answers to their information queries regardless of the complexity of those queries. 1.1.3 The library should make service areas for information services highly visible and readily accessible to all users. Included as appendices: definitions of special terms, a bibliography of relevant sources, recommended procedures, etc. These procedures may also refer to separately-published documents.

1.7.2 Checklist for Creation or Revision of RUSA Guidelines

Cover Sheet for Creation or Revision of a RUSA Guideline RUSA Guidelines Documentation Cover Sheet

1.7.3 Documentation Cover Sheet

The following list must accompany a new or revised guideline as a cover sheet when submitted to the RUSA Professional Resources Committee for review. This cover sheet will travel with the guideline throughout the review to document proper completion of the process. The Documentation Cover Sheet must include:

  1. Originating unit or Committee contact person
  2. A brief history of the guideline’s development, if the history is significant to understanding the guideline.
  3. Related guidelines and standards used to develop the guideline, if applicable.
  4. The ALA divisions, Committee s and units, individuals, and other interested parties consulted during the development of the guideline, if applicable.
  5. The dates when the guideline was submitted to:
  • originating unit or Committee for review
  • P/R Committee for review
  • appropriate RUSA section executive Committee for review
  • the RUSA Board for review (via the RUSA executive director)
  1. The dates when the guideline was approved or rejected by the:
  • originating unit or Committee
  • P/R Committee
  • appropriate RUSA section executive Committee
  • RUSA Board

(The RUSA Professional Resources Committee is in charge of updating) Rev. 08/2018