Library Policies & Procedures


Library policies and procedures are essential to library operations. Policies and procedures may vary according to the type of library - public, academic, or special library - all libraries must have policies and procedures in order to run efficiently.

What Are Library Policies and Procedures?

  • Library policies and procedures are the framework on which the library operates. Policies dictate the rules and regulations that form the basis of the library's operation, while procedures dictate how the library performs the services that it offers.

    Libraries should have policies in place that dictate both the internal functions of the library - i.e. policies that govern the library's operation - and the public functions of the library that affect the library's patrons.

    Library procedures should be present to guide both the employees and the public in the organization and use of the library's materials.

Suggestions for Library Policies

  • Ideally, a library should have several categories of policies that will address different aspects of the library's operation and organization. Although some of these policies will address the library's patrons, the majority will serve as governance for the library's operation.

    Several types of internal library policies that are essential to the library's function include but are not limited to:

    • Policies that dictate the organization of the library, such as policies that address the library's governing body and the library's income

    • Employee policies;

    • Purchasing policies

    • Collection development policies.

    External library policies that dictate the behavior of patrons include but are not limited to:

    • Borrowing policies

    • Computer usage policies

    • Illegal or disruptive behavior policies.

Suggestions for Library Procedures

  • For a library to function, it must not only be governed by policies, but also adopt procedures that instruct both employees and patrons in the functions of the library.

    Internal library procedures include:

    • Purchasing procedures

    • Cataloging procedures

    • Classification and shelving procedures

    • Technology procedures.

    Library procedures that affect both employees and patrons include:

    • Emergency management procedures

    • Equipment usage procedures

    • Inclement weather procedures.

Different Libraries, Different Needs

  • While all libraries need policies and procedures, these will vary from library to library.

    For instance, employee policies will be different for libraries that employee over one hundred employees as opposed to libraries that employee less than twenty employees. Collection development policies for an academic library will be vastly different than those for a public library - as will be borrowing policies.

What Policies and Procedures Mean for Library Employees and Patrons

  • For library patrons, a library that has and follows good policies and procedures, both internal and external, is a better library to visit. Well-developed policies and procedures ensure that every patron is treated equally, is granted equal access to materials, and has equal opportunity to use and and enjoy the library.

    Policies and procedures make the library employee's job much less stressful by providing a framework of best practices and impartial policies that create a balanced work environment.


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