What’s the Wrap Up

The Webinar is over and archived, so watch the kanlib list for the particulars.  Overall, it went well.  We had 17 participants, including staff from System offices and the State Library.  I only lost my place once or twice and thanks to Cathy Newland, we had some audio discussion but the most interesting bits were found over in the chat window.

I’m just going to recap some of the bits I found most interesting.  They’re divided by Talking Point.

1. New Employee Orientation – how do you do it?

  • Shannon Roy made the very valid point that “New employees are worth quality time that they don’t always get.”
  • Many people have one-on-one conferences with new employees
  • Kim Baker at Leavenworth Public has a policy manual quiz she’s prepared for new employees
  • Holly Mathes has “attractive copies” of policies for each Board member and staff person
  • Hollis Helmeci also has policy binders for the Board and a manual at the front desk that is routinely updated (pages are replaced)

2. Development of New Policies

  • Hollis shared that they use staff meetings to address issues and Holly agreed that issues that may need to be addressed in or by a policy come up in their weekly staff meetings.
  • We discussed ‘reactive policies’ – where the policy discussion is precipitated by some unpleasant event at the library.  While it’s best o address issues before the become a full blown issue, that can be difficult.
  • Diana Weaver shared that she’s working on Atchison’s emergency preparedness policy and will include information about ‘in case of pandemic.’ – Timely
  • New technologies, services, building changes, and trends all lead to policy reviews
  • Laura DeBaun cautioned that “just because a situation is difficult, it may NOT require a policy.”  Shannon concurred, recommending that “thoughtfullness” be part of a library’s culture.
  • Mickey Coalwell followed up with “a policy isn’t a crutch and it’s not a substitute for constructive confrontation with a problem patron or situation.” – Polices are “a backstop”
  • Cathy Newland felt that we need to “empower librarians to make choices about what is good service.”  Mickey and Laura made the points that policies are there to “support and legitimize” staff and Board decisions and that they are “not a justification for NO, solely”
  • Hollis asked, “As a statement of direction, then application becomes the major element here?”
  • We discussed the use of scenarios and real life situations that have happened at a library as ways to reinforce policy and to gauge comprehension.  As Diana said, staff wants to know if they did the right thing!  Even just having good discussions about how policies can/are applied in a given situation is helpful.

3.  Review of Existing Policies

  • Most present review policies with staff at staff meetings (with food bribes) held before the library opens.
  • Policies are reviewed by staff before recommendations for changes are brought to the Board for further discussion and action.
  • Diana is experimenting with using Google docs to facilitate policy review and revision (very clever)
  • I asked how many require staff signature in the policy manual – many did.  Shannon said, “I think it gets a more careful reading.”
  • I asked if scenarios belong in the policy manual, but the consensus was that this should be left for the face-to-face discussion and training.  Scenarios or examples may limit flexibility by staff in applying a policy in a given situation.
  • Modeling was brought up as a great way to teach policies, as Hollis says, “It might give [staff] a new perspective on how to apply the policies.”
  • We talked about including knowledge of policies in an employee’s evaluation, but that decided that the better approach would be to include ‘application of policy in a customer friendly manner’ in the evaluation.
  • Holly reminded us all that it’s important to address problems with ‘policy enforcement’ at the time and not save it for the evaluation, which lead to a side discussion of documenting throughout the year for employee evals.
  • Mickey asked, “Do you penalize for failure to apply policy appropriately?”   YES!

4. Locating Policies

  • At Tonganoxie, we had the ‘master’ policy manual in a binder behind my desk and some policies were online.  The entire manual was also on a shared directory (because I use ctrl+f extensively).
  • Hollis has a copy at the front desk for staff and on the Web site.  Diana has theirs in a 3-ring binder at the circulation desk.
  • I asked if anyone had their policy manual online, sighting the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library who has their entire manual, including Board Governance, online.
  • Many only have the computer use/Internet policy online or other select policies like Service and Meeting room.
  • We had a side discussion on Emergency policies (because we’ve had a rash of cars running into libraries here at NEKLS) – Shannon made the great point that the policy has to be available outside the library at all times!
  • Joyce Armstrong shared that Hugoton’s policy is excellent and will hopefully be shared on Web Junction-KS.
  • The State Library is creating a wallet-sized emergency plan that staff can carry in their wallets!
  • We talked about what policies are pulled out of the manual and put at the service desk:  donation policy, unattended children, emergency policy, computer use, code of conduct and meeting room
  • Out of curiosity, I asked if anyone has a computer use policy for staff – Holly has a “staff technology policy” that covers computer and cell phone use.
  • Some phrases that help cover inappropriate use of patron lap tops include “at the library staff’s discretion” and “disruptive behavior is prohibited.”
  • Side discussion on e-rate, CIPA and wireless – if the wireless bandwidth costs are reimbursed with e-rate funds, CIPA applies.  At Tonganoxie, the wireless was donated by Sunflower Cable, so the library’s code of conduct and a policy statement included especially for wireless users applied.

All done.  Questions?


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