30 Days of How-To #21: How to change policies

Last week, we talked about evaluating your library’s policies and determining whether they were appropriate and reasonable for teens. If you concluded that some changes are needed, it’s time to think about how to make those changes.

  • ‘ You will want to proceed carefully and thoughtfully. Policies are not written in a vacuum, and there will have been reasons behind every policy or procedure. If possible, find out what those reasons are. Find out the background of the policies—is this a new policy, or a time-honored one?
  • Learn your library’s process for changing policies and procedures. Who can propose a change and who can approve a change? If your change involves the strategic plan or the library’s core values, it may require approval by the Board of Trustees or City Council. If it is a simple procedure change, it may be able to be approved by the library’s administration.
  • Whoever the decision-makers are, give them sufficient and appropriate background information. Some examples:
    • Why the change should be made: how will this change affect the library’s service to teens and the relationship to the community?
    • What impact the change will have on staffing: for example, show that after-school supervision will require fewer staff members if they don’t have to spend time policing the “no-furniture-moving” rule.
    • What impact the change will have on procedures: for example, school id cards will be added to the list of acceptable identification for getting a library card
    • What impact the change will have on the budget: for example, will there be costs associated with changing signs or informational handouts?
    • When the change will take effect: will it require a roll-out or pilot period, or can a date be set to make the change? Would it make sense to change the policy at the beginning of a fiscal year, calendar year, or school year?
  • Get teen input on the proposed changes, and present that with your proposal. If you can show you have teen buy-in, it may go a long way toward making your point, especially if what you are advocating appears to be more lenient than what currently exists.
  • Get your supervisor’s buy-in before you take it any higher. Your supervisor can help advocate at the higher levels, but her or she needs to understand fully the proposal.

Has anyone had success with changing policies that didn’t include teens or didn’t treat them equitably?

 

About Sarah Flowers

Sarah Flowers is a YALSA Past President and former Deputy County Librarian for the Santa Clara County (CA) Library. Currently she does writing and speaking on topics related to teen services and teaches online courses for California's Infopeople Project.
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