This post is going to be a work-in-progress.
As I write it, you can follow my journey as a qualified teacher librarian moving into an established library in a primary school at very short notice and find out what I wished I had asked during the short hand-over period but didn’t because I assumed there would be a Procedures Manual available. Because even though I have a wide range of experience and expertise and knew what had to be done, I didn’t know how it was done in this particular context.
While there are practices that are common to all libraries, each school and education system has its own requirements that need to be followed and these need to be set out somewhere because you cannot make the assumption that your successor will necessarily be from the same school district as you and therefore know the drill. There are some things you don’t learn at library school but you need to know.
So join me on my journey as I discover what I don’t know and need to know as I write a manual for the person who will inevitably follow in my footsteps.
Access to the Library Management System
Providing comprehensive training in the use of the LMS used by the school/district is probably beyond the brief of the incumbent TL particularly if there is a short turnover period, but there needs to be information about…
- what the LMS is and where training can be obtained, including any manuals, help desks, networks and other support systems that are in place in the short term should they be needed
- how to access it via username and password and ensuring that the entry level assigned to you is at administrator level so you can access all its functions
- an overview of the most commonly used modules with brief instructions on how these are used on the surface level so the everyday functions of the library can continue without interruption for the clients such as those governing circulation , adding new borrowers and accessioning new items.
While it is clearly acknowledged that usernames and passwords should not be shared. there are occasions where a school as an entity has a login. These include access to databases, online newspapers and magazines, library support systems such as cataloguing services, vendor accounts and so forth. So these details need to be made available.
If there is existing documentation such as policies available then state where this is. If it is online provide the pathway to it; if it is in print format then state where it can be found. If it is online then it needs to be in a shared folder, not a personal one but having seen what can be done to “paperwork” stored online when uninformed people decide it is time to clean up shared folders or systems crash and so forth, in my opinion it is worthwhile having both a paper copy of critical documents as well as a back-up digital source.
Essential documentation includes
- the vision statement
- the mission statement
- a general library policy stating the purpose and place of the library within the school
- the strategic plan
- the Collection Policy
- the Circulation Policy
- the current budget and its disbursement
- other policies that govern the library and its services
As this is a primary function of the library explicit details need to be provided including
- who may borrow
- who may undertake circulation – Tl, teacher, students, self-circulation
- how to access the circulation module of the LMS including any username or password
- the steps involved in lending, returning, renewing and reserving a resource
- if ebooks are available, instructions about how these are accessed and downloaded including usernames and passwords if applicable
- if password-protected online resources are available, instructions about how these are accessed and downloaded including usernames and passwords if applicable
- authority to override any restrictions placed on borrowers or resources
- borrower loan categories, resource types and limits, lending periods and renewals for each
- the generation of borrower barcodes and the maintenance of these
- availability of class loans and the authority to borrow for these
- accessing loan histories
- master due date for returns prior to stocktake and instructions for setting this and other critical dates
- any other limits or restrictions
- treatment of overdue resources including the imposition and collection of fines
- patron responsibilities for lost or damaged resources
- how new borrowers are added
- collection of statistics
- interlibrary loan procedures
Include screenshots where applicable for easier explanation
Acquisition procedures must be clearly stated so that procedures can be followed in alignment with school/district requirements. Information should include
- budget preparation, submission and allocation
- the timeframe for purchasing
- purchasing procedures such as
- the use of purchase orders and responsibility for placing these
- the need for a supervisor to approve purchases
- the use of school accounts and/or credit cards
- online purchasing procedures
- whose responsibility it is to ensure a vendor is paid
- the reconciliation of the budget with expenditure to ensure limits are adhered to
- criteria for selecting vendors including
- quality and reliability of service
- preview practices and returns policies
- value for money
- payment options,
- delivery costs
- speed of delivery
- preferred vendors who meet the criteria including
- the use of those mandated by the school/district
- the use of local vendors
- specialist vendors
- online vendors
- the ability/restrictions applying to the TL making on-the-spot purchases including reimbursement
- review of vendors for adherence to the selection criteria
- the use of free services versus paid or subscription including statements about the need for the resource to adhere to the selection criteria for all resources, particularly considering
- ownership of the resource
- copyright compliance
- advertising and offsite links
- the outsourcing of collection development such as a service which supplies pre-selected titles and the criteria to be considered such as
- cost comparisons
- previewing of titles for suitability
- the ability to return unwanted items
- the outsourcing of the processing of resources so they are shelf-ready
To be continued…
This is a wonderful idea for a blog. I am no longer working in K-12, but just this week a former colleague asked about an issue that could have been answered with a procedures book.
Like your blog, the procedures book we developed was always a work in progress, but so often useful. I have learned how helpful they also are in other situations such as for volunteer organizations.
I wrote an article about a procedures book a few years ago; it would be different now, but the premise is the same. It was published in Multimedia & Internet at Schools.
Mary Alice Anderson
I have always been a keen advocate for a Library Manual starting with the one I wrote in about 1979 “School Community Library Mannual” which was later published and distributed to all Public Libraries in South Australia in 1984. It is so important that policies and procedures are documented to ensure the continued smooth running of an efficient library service when library personnel change. Thank you Barbara for your continued guidance.