Sample Policies

Q. Can you direct me to one or two sites with sample library policies. I've just taken over our small public library and have convinced trustees we need to have policies newer than 25 years ago!

A. Certainly--but some framework first.

Policies have several functions in today’s complex organizations. The very act of writing and approving them helps define the values of the organization, and once written, they help managers and staff translate those values into service priorities. Policies establish a standard for services that can be understood by both users of the services and providers of the service. Policies ensure equitable treatment for all, and polices provide a framework for delivery of services. When policies have been adopted by a library’s governing agents in a formal process and are consistent with local, state, and federal laws, they will be enforceable.

So, you should probably start with contacting the library development office of your state library.  The staff in that office will help you with policies that build on the laws in your state.  Next, review the Positions and Public Policy Statements approved by the Council of the American Library Association.  These cover such topics as Services and Responsibilities of Libraries, Intellectual Freedom, Library Personnel Practices, and Library Services for the Poor.  When you reference these, be sure to cite the most current version.  In some cases, it might be also helpful to review the background documents for an individual policy; when these exist, they are part of the Policy Reference Manual, linked from the main policy page.

Finally, we've collected some links to online sources for library policies.  These include links to wikis and websites gathering library policies, along with a structured search for locating sample library policies that are publicly available online.  There are also several recent library administration textbooks with chapters on developing policies, as well as Creating Policies for Results: From Chaos to Clarity, by Sandra Nelson and June Garcia for the Public Library Association.  Again, your state library (or regional library system) can be a resource for these materials if your own library's resources are limited.



The Library Trustees Association of New York State has a newly created and innovative website which has thousands of policies in searchable format. You might want to take a look at how it’s organized.

Also look at The Public Library Policy Writer : a guidebook with model policies on CD-ROM by Jeanette Larson and Herman Totten (Neal-Schuman, 2008).

Googling for Library Policies:

I’ve had very good luck using google to find which libraries are posting related policies.

+”collection development policy” +”public library”
+”collection development policy” +dvd +”public library”
also more general searches can work:
+”children” +”policy” +”public library”
gets me to “unattended children policy” at Berkeley Public Library, Chicago Public Library and many others…

At my library, we use the web page posted policies as our “approved and final” policies, which makes it easier for staff and the public to identify the current policies.