Our Policies and Bylaws: A Guide for Alberta Public Library Boards document can help you develop effective policies and bylaws for your board.
Policies provide shape to the library service your staff provides. Good policy benefits your library in several ways:
- Good policy is proactive. It allows your board to set rules for your library based on principles. This is better than reacting to unexpected incidents that occur in the library (though some policies may be written in response to incidents).
- Good policy ensures consistency in the way you deliver services and treat employees and library users, and can help prevent legal problems.
- Good policy provides direction to your employees as they manage the day-to-day operations of the library. It gives staff security knowing that their actions reflect the will of the board.
To ensure they meet the changing needs of your community, your board should regularly review and update its policies.
According to the Libraries Act, public library boards may pass bylaws for the safety and use of library facilities. These bylaws protect your library and the people and things within it.
- Safety and use bylaws passed by the library board are not the same as the municipal bylaw that formed the library board, nor are they the same as society bylaws.
- Your board's bylaws carry the same legal weight as bylaws that are passed by your municipality.
- Think of bylaws as policies that are legally enforceable. They are rules for your library that you can ask law enforcement personnel to uphold.
For more information on library bylaws, see:
- Sample library board bylaw template (DOCX, 21 KB)
Library board bylaws may be passed by a single motion of the board. However, boards often choose to read and pass the bylaws 3 times to ensure the information in them is complete and accurate.
Once your board has passed its bylaws, a copy must be sent to municipal council. Council may accept or disallow your board’s bylaws.
If your bylaws are disallowed, it's a good idea to ask your council why the bylaws were disallowed, so you can make appropriate changes that will be acceptable to municipal council.
After the bylaws are changed, they must be passed by your board once again before they are sent back to municipal council.
Your policies must comply with all applicable legislation, including the Libraries Act and Libraries Regulation.
Section 7 of the Libraries Regulation identifies 10 policies that your library board must have in place. These required policies are listed below. If your library board does not directly operate a physical service point, you only need the first 3 policies.
Your board may create other policies to suit your local needs (for example, public computer use and other personnel policies).
Confidentiality of user records
- Your board must keep user records confidential, except when required by law.
- It is best practice to require a written legal order before disclosing user records to law enforcement officers.
- Your board must also follow the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
- Sample Confidentiality of User Records Policy (DOCX, 19 KB)
Orientation and continuing education of board and staff
- Board members and staff should attend regular training to keep skills current and keep up-to-date on library trends.
- This policy must include direction on reimbursement for attendance at library meetings, conferences, workshops and courses, and for memberships in library associations.
- Sample Board Orientation and Continuing Education Policy (DOCX, 22 KB)
- Sample Staff Orientation and Continuing Education Policy (DOCX, 22 KB)
- Library boards have full management and control of their libraries. They have a legal responsibility to manage their finances.
- Your policy must include directions on reimbursement of expenses and a list of signing officers.
- Sample Finance Policy (DOCX, 26 KB)
- If you hire staff, your board is an employer and has all the associated legal responsibilities.
- Your board must follow employment laws and regulations including the Employment Standards Code and Regulation, the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the federal Human Rights Act.
- Your personnel policies must include:
- job descriptions for employees and volunteers
- directions on performance appraisals for employees and volunteers
- qualifications for staff positions
- working hours
- conditions of employment
- a grievance procedure
- Sample Personnel Policy (DOCX, 38 KB)
- Sample job descriptions for library manager and library volunteer (DOCX, 41 KB)
- This policy must include directions on the selection, acquisition, purchase and disposition of library resources of all kinds (books, magazines, DVDs, and so on).
- This policy must also include a section on gifts and donations.
- Sample collection development policy (DOCX, 22 KB)
- Sharing resources with other libraries greatly increases the amount of materials your library users can access.
- This policy must include a statement on participation in the Provincial Library Network and the conditions that apply to library resources and information acquired from other libraries.
- Sample Resource Sharing Policy (DOCX, 18 KB)
Provision of resources for those unable to use conventional print
- This library user group includes not just visually impaired library users, but also library users who may physically be unable to use a conventional book or library users with a cognitive disability, among others.
- This policy must include provision for cooperation with other community agencies (schools, hospitals, and so on).
- Sample Provision of Service to Those Unable to Use Conventional Print Policy (DOCX, 22 KB)
Loan of resources
- This policy must include directions on how library materials will be loaned to the public for use outside the library (for example, check-in and check-out policies).
- Sample lending policy (DOCX, 21 KB)
Hours of service
- If your board has more than one library branch, you must list the open hours for each branch.
- Sample Hours of Service Policy (DOCX, 18 KB)
- If your board has a meeting room or other space not normally used for library purposes, there must be a policy on who can use that space. This policy usually includes rental procedures for a meeting room or similar space.
- Sample Conditions for Use of Areas of the Library Not Normally Used for Public Service Policy (DOCX, 18 KB)