Wanted: Your Advice on Library Policies

by Elizabeth on October 28, 2010 · 0 comments

in librarians, librarianship, libraries, medical libraries

The follow post is a reprint of a post I published on Closed Stacks back in August.

I’m figuring out pretty quickly that being a librarian isn’t as flashy as it seems.  It’s not all instruction classes, web 2.0, and the occasional article that saves a patient’s life.  No, being a librarian, especially a solo librarian, means facing some of the most boring aspects of work.  Recently I’ve been buried deep in one of those excessively boring tasks that frequently plague librarians.

I’ve been updating my library’s policies and procedures.

“But wait!” you say.  “Updating policies and procedures is a super exciting job!  It’s incredibly important and getting it successfully past your board is a mission fraught with danger!”

Okay, so maybe updating the policies isn’t full of peril (mostly because I don’t have a board!), but knowing that the decisions I make today could potentially affect the library in the future is a nice feeling.  Perhaps not as nice as knowing that I might have a saved a life today with a crucial piece of research, but nice all the same.

The library’s policies and procedures manual is woefully out of date.  The last time it was updated, MEDLINE was on a CD-ROM.  Obviously an update was needed and I finally (as in got bored enough) got around to doing so.  It’s not as easy as I expected it to be, however.  I thought I would mainly be updating wording and adding the occasional policy relating to electronic resources.  Turns out, it’s much more than that.  Whole passages have to be scrapped and rewritten; entire new sections need to be added.  I break out into minor hives every time I think about how to word our new internet and computer usage policy.

I am in desperate need of help.  My policies are so out-of-date that I really don’t know what to add and where to add it.  Several searches and pleas to other medical librarians have turned up very little advice.  I have the basics of course: collection development, information services, gifts, staffing, general policies on hours, etc.  What I’m lacking are policies related to medical libraries specifically.  Our manual is very generic and needs to be written with a more narrow focus.  I’m also lacking any sort of policy related to electronic resources.

So that brings me to you, dear readers.  If you are a medical librarian, what policies do you think are essential to include?  Special and solo librarians, if your policies needed to be rewritten where would you go for advice and information on how to do so?  For anyone else, do you have any advice you could share on writing policies?  Any and all suggestions are welcome!

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