Alchemical Thoughts

Do you know where your policies are?

Posted on: July 29, 2008

I came across this small article in the Library Worklife newsletter about things that make libraries look stupid. In the article, Chris Rippel asks if we, as librarians, know where certain pieces of vital information could be found if you had to lay hands on them now. Some of the items include the following, with my comments in parenthesis to use myself as an example):

  • An up-to-date copy of the library's policies? (Ours are online on the library's website here. However, nothing in print that would be readily available or we could hand to a patron if they came asking. I suppose we could print the necessary pages out if needed, but all it takes is one internet outage, and you get the idea.)
  • An up-to-date copy of the library's budget? (I have no idea where this would be. I assume the director has it.)
  • Where today's programs and meetings in the library are being held? (There is an online campus calendar system. I do not have access to it in a ready fashion. Circulation does, which means I get to go ask them if I need to know of some event that may be happening in my own library. Often I know some group has a meeting in my own building when I see the group put a flyer in our door to tell others what room the event is in that morning. Now that seriously makes one look like an idiot.)
  • Who is in the Friends group and who is president of that group? (The library does not currently have a friends group. However, the university does have a Friends of the Arts group that sponsors various campus events, and they have been generous to the library. I have no idea who all of them are or who their president is, which is something I may need to learn at some point as part of my outreach duties. The director would know.)
  • The library's mission statement? (see link above for the policies.)
  • The hours branches are open? (Clearly posted on the website and on all doors. Easy to find.)
  • How to handle complaints about a book or video? (No idea how this would be handled, if it happened. Our collection development policy does not have anything on handling controversial items, or similar, either. I have an idea how I would handle, but I do not run the place. We probably should write down some sort of policy and appeals process before something actually happens.)
  • How to handle requests for information by law enforcement officials? (Similar to the above. There is nothing written out on this. My guess is, if they have a subpoena, cooperate and call the director, who would likely call the campus lawyer. However, no subpoena, tell them to come back with one would be my reply. This is another one of those things no one has bothered thinking about, and we probably should.)

I did forward the post to my boss, but I did not hear anything back. I am thinking these are the kind of things that can go in a few places:

  • The library's faq page on the website.
  • A library reference blog, where the entries could be tagged for retrieval, or
  • a reference wiki where one would create a document. In lieu of that, we do use LibGuides for our subject guides. Maybe we could create a LibGuide for our use (i.e. kept private) for that purpose? I would lean more for a wiki. The concern with the faq page I mention above is keeping it short, so a wiki might be better.
  • An updated handbook kept in reference. This would require maintenance, but it would be another tool. Sort of adding a little positive redundancy.

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