Public relations is the process of invoking a public understanding of goodwill toward the public library system. A public relations program is an integral part of the library system’s strategic plan. A plan builds good customer relations, and contributes to a positive relationship with the media, businesses, and other local government agencies/organizations. It is important to remember that the public relations efforts of the library system have to be continuous. A public relations plan should be written by the director or his/her designee, approved by the administrative board of trustees, and reviewed on an annual basis.
Many libraries use video cameras to record and observe the public in key points of the library with the aim of increasing the safety of library patrons and the security of the library building. There are Attorney General’s Opinions (AGO, Simmons, February 24, 2006; Myers, December 28, 1999) stating that persons should not be recorded without their consent and knowledge in circumstances in which they would have a reasonable expectation of privacy. These AG opinions are pertinent to video surveillance because the video records may link the identity of the library user to their use of specific library materials and could be subject to the restrictions imposed by §39-3-365: Confidentiality of library user records:
§ 39-3-365 Confidentiality of library user records:
Records maintained by any library funded in whole or in part by public funds, which contain information relating to the identity of a library user, relative to the user’s use of books or other materials at the library, shall be confidential. Such records may only be released with the express written permission of the respective library user or as the result of a court order.
Therefore, if libraries wish to use video surveillance for safety reasons, they need to display a sign or some other method of notification that the public is subject to surveillance. The Board of Trustees may wish to adopt a policy addressing how video surveillance records are maintained.
Retention of Security Footage
There is not yet a retention schedule developed for security video for any local government entities or state agencies. However, the closest example found is the dispatcher audio tapes for law enforcement and fire personnel (911). Retention of these is 90 days; “serious incidents may warrant longer retention at the discretion of the local agency” (State of Mississippi Local Government Records GSC 15 05).
American Library Association Council. Privacy: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights. 19 June 2002. Rev. 1 July 2014. Web. 27 June 2016.
American Library Association. Questions and Answers on Privacy and Confidentiality. n.d. Web. 27 June 2016.
Hancock County Public Library. Sample Video Surveillance Policy. n.d. Web. 27 June 2016.
Library systems should create social media policies to define the scope of their social media presence, to guide both library-led and staff-led actions on social media, to identify appropriate ways to deal with patron and commenter behavior on social media, and to deal with privacy issues on social media.
Many such policies exist and can be adapted to fit the needs of your library. The main points your policy should address are as follows:
- Your library system’s goal for engaging in social media
- The social media accounts (or types of accounts) you will open
- Who is responsible for posting on behalf of the library
- What types of posts are to be expected
- How often such posts will be made
- How other employees are allowed to be involved in official posts
- Employee social media conduct
- Types of comments/messages that merit deletion from your library system’s social media posts
- Rules regarding photographs of patrons and patron identification on social media posts
Discipline of Employee Social Media Behavior
Libraries should differentiate between staff members posting on behalf of the library systems and staff member’s personal social media accounts; keeping these separate can help protect the library from passing policies that violate staff members’ First Amendment rights. According to the National Labor Relations Board:
- “Employer policies should not be so sweeping that they prohibit the kinds of activity protected federal labor law, such as the discussion of wages or working conditions among employees.”
- “An employee’s comments on social media are generally not protected if they are mere gripes not made in relation to group activity among employees.”
With the above in mind, library systems should be clear about prescribing employee social media behavior and its parameters within the work place. The resources contain two samples of public library social media policies that take such considerations into account while maintaining the First Amendment rights of their employees.
Breed, Elizabeth. Creating a Social Media Policy: What We Did, What We Learned.” Information Today. 27.2 (2013) n. pag. Web. 23 June 2016. <http://www.infotoday.com/mls/mar13/Breed–Creating-a-Social-Media-Policy.shtml>
Capital Area District Libraries. SER 205 Social Media Policy. 19 Dec. 2012. Web. 23 June 2016. <http://www.cadl.org/files/8513/6560/1991/SER_205_Social_Media_Policy_FINAL_12-19-12.pdf>
Cleveland Public Library. “Policy on the Use of CPL’s Social Media Sites.” Cleveland Public Library. n. pag. Web. 23 June 2016. <http://cpl.org/thelibrary/aboutthelibrary/usingthelibrary/policy-on-the-use-of-cpls-social-media-sites/>
National Labor Relations Board. “The National Labor Relations Board and Social Media.” n. pag. Web. 22 June 2016 <https://www.nlrb.gov/news-outreach/fact-sheets/nlrb-and-socialmedia>
MLC’s Social Media Policy. <http://directorguide.lib.ms.us/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/socialmedia.revised.111312.pdf >
Heidelberger, Brian. “Eight Ways Your Employee Social-Media Policy May Violate Federal Law.”
Advertising Age. 12 June 2012. Web. 23 June 2016. <http://adage.com/article/digitalnext/employeesocial-media-policy-violate-federal-law/235313/>
Library programming may be defined as “. . . a specific recreational, educational, or cultural group event or activity sponsored by the library. Programs may be ongoing, a series, or a one-time event.” In addition, programming may be defined as “a process by which the informational, educational, and recreational needs of patrons are met by bringing patrons into contact with the human resources best able meet those needs.” (Lear’s Adult Programs in the Library)
Programming is a central function of the public library. No longer confined to the space inside library walls, library programming takes many shapes and forms, from outreach programs to festivals and roving librarianship services.
Benefits of Library Programming
Programming is so essential to library services that the American Library Association (ALA) has a Public Programs Office (PPO) to promote programming. According to ALA, library programming:
- improves the quality of life;
- nourishes the spirit;
- and unites us as human beings.
Library programming is beneficial both to the library system and the communities its serves. Programming:
- brings a wide variety of customers into the library and allows people from all socioeconomic levels the opportunity to participate in quality programs
- increases circulation of the library’s collection and allows staff to become better acquainted with members of the community
- provides access to information that may not otherwise be available
- provides access to technology, tools, and physical objects that may not be available to all segments of the population
- supports lifelong learning
- demonstrates to funding entities the vital role the library system plays in the community it serves
- allows librarians to become a part of the community by engaging in outreach events
Library System Director’s Role
The library system director’s role in library programming is to assist staff in planning a wide variety of programs based on community demographics and a community assessment. Library directors should also plan:
- to work with staff to create an annual programming plan that includes program requirements and staff assignments
- to budget funds for the library system’s annual programming plan
- to assist staff in selecting appropriate resources for planning and implementing programs and that will complement the library system’s programs
- to allow staff to perform outreach missions in the community, both for needs assessment purposes and for offsite programming
- to allow staff to attend training to further their knowledge of library programming
Types of Programs
Library programming takes many shapes and forms inside the library as well as out in the community. MLC provides training for programming librarians and has programming resources available through the Continuing Education page on the website: http://mlc.lib.ms.us/ms-libraries/library-development/continuing-education/.
MLC consultants and staff will also help conduct staff trainings in your library as time permits. You can schedule one of these trainings by contacting your consultant or by completing a staff training request form here: Request Form for Staff Development Training.
ALA’s public programming office (PPO) has created several websites, resources, and user groups for programming librarians. ALA also publishes websites devoted to librarians involved in programming for children and teens. Those resources are listed in the following sections.
Below, you will see headings for groups that you should consider in your programming plan for the library. Under each heading, you will find a list of vetted resources that will be helpful to your programming librarians.
General Children’s Programming Information:
MLC offers several resources for youth services librarians. Each year, the Continuing Education program offers both general youth services workshops and webinars, as well as workshops targeted towards librarians preparing for summer reading programs for a range of age groups. MLC also hosts a youth services listserv that youth services librarians can join.
MLC has recognized the need to incorporate Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programming into traditional library programming. MSU’s Extension Services (http://msucares.com/) is an excellent source for STEM information and instruction, and we have included additional STEM resources here to assist you in STEM activities at your library.
Programming for Early Childhood:
Books for Babies: http://www.ala.org/united/products_services/booksforbabies
Born to Read (registration required)
Every Child Ready to Read: http://www.everychildreadytoread.org/
S.T.E.M. for Pre-Schoolers: http://simplystem.wikispaces.com/Preschool+Programs
Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy grant program: http://www2.ed.gov/programs/strivingreaders-literacy/index.html
Programming for Children:
Association for Library Service to Children http://www.ala.org/alsc/
Core Competencies for Librarians Working with Youth: http://www.ala.org/alsc/edcareeers/alsccorecomps
“How to Put the Library in STEM”: http://www.ala.org/alsc/stem-at-your-library
Design Squad (STEM resources): http://pbskids.org/designsquad/
Mississippi State University Extension Services: http://msucares.com/
Robotics (MSU Extension Services): http://4hrobotics.msucares.com/
Squishy Circuits: http://courseweb.stthomas.edu/apthomas/SquishyCircuits/index.htm
Sylvia’s Mini Maker Show: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLFE6E8EADEDFC09DF
MSU Extension Services Curriculum for students 5-7 years old: http://4hrobotics.msucares.com/curriculum/cloverbud/
MSU Extension Services Curriculum Lego 4H curriculum and projects: http://ase.tufts.edu/devtech/courses/readings/WeDoIntro.pdf
Programming for Teens/Young Adults:
Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA): http://www.ala.org/yalsa/
YALSA Products and Publications: http://www.ala.org/yalsa/products%26publications
Make: We Are All Makers: http://makezine.com
Programming for Families:
Family Place Libraries: http://familyplacelibraries.org/
Every Child Ready to Read: http://everychildreadytoread.org/
Mississippi Humanities Council Family Literacy Project: http://www.mshumanities.com/index.php/programs/family_literacy
Programming for Adults:
Mississippi Humanities Council Grants: http://www.mshumanities.org/index.php/grants
Mississippi Humanities Council Speakers’ Bureau: http://www.mshumanities.com/index.php/programs/speakers_bureau
Mississippi Arts Commission Mississippi Artist Roster: http://www.arts.ms.gov/artist-roster/artist-roster.php
Mississippi Department of Archives & History Speakers’ Bureau: http://mdah.state.ms.us/new/learn/schedule-a-speaker/
Mississippi State University Extension Services: http://msucares.com/
Programming Librarian: http://programminglibrarian.org/
Programming for Senior Citizens:
Guidelines for Library and Information Services for Older Adults: http://www.ala.org/rusa/resources/guidelines/libraryservices
Programming for Diverse Populations:
American Indian Library Association: http://www.ailanet.org/
Asian/Pacific Americans Library Association: http://www.apalaweb.org/
Black Caucus of the American Library Association: http://www.bcala.org/
Chinese-American Library Association: http://www.cala-web.org/
National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos & the Spanish Speaking: http://www.reforma.org/
Guidelines for Library Services to Spanish-Speaking Library Users: http://www.ala.org/rusa/resources/guidelines/guidespanish.
Diversity in Action: http://dia.ala.org/action
Programming for People with Disabilities:
Resources and Training from ALSC:
Jones, Ella W. Start to Finish YA Programs: Hip-hop Symposiums, Summer Reading Programs, Virtual Tours, Poetry Slams, Teen Advisory Boards, Term Paper Clinics, and More! New York: Neal Schuman, 2009.
Lear, Brett W. Adult Programs in the Library. 2nd ed. Chicago: American Library Association, 2013.
Nichols, Joel A. iPads in the Library: Using Tablet Technology to Enhance Programs for All Ages. Santa Barbara: Libraries Unlimited, 2013.
Siwak, Karen J. Library Programs for Teens: Mystery Theatre. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2010. Print. VOYA Guides 3.
Traditionally, libraries have offered services to various groups in the community based on the library’s mission and service policy. Libraries offer a variety of outreach programs including:
Literacy Programs – In the 1980s and 1990s, a number of library systems began such services in local communities because literacy was a targeted area of many federally-funded grant programs. Today, a number of library systems are engaging in early literacy programs such as Every Child Ready to Read and Excel by 5 that target families, teachers, and communities in order to take a more holistic approach to literacy education.
Jail Services – Today in Mississippi, many prisoners/inmates once sent to state prisons are housed in county, regional or privately-run correctional facilities. Because these facilities are not required to have recreational libraries, the local library is often asked to provide library services for this jail population. Many library systems have established small rotating collections in jails.
Note: These institutions are often grateful recipients of paperbacks. Inquire about any possible restrictions before establishing such a collection.
Nursing Homes/Retirement Homes Services – Nursing and retirement homes have recreational directors looking for new programming ideas for residents. Many librarians have weekly book talks and book discussions at nursing homes. A number of library systems, lacking the staff to provide regular programming opportunities, have established rotation collections for residents.
Note: Many of the nursing home/retirement home residents are eligible to receive library services from MLC’s Talking Book Services. Library representatives can bring TBS applications to nursing or retirement homes to make joining the service easier for visually or physically impaired individuals.
Schools (K-12) Services – Many library systems have good working relationships with the schools in the communities they serve. It is essential that local public librarians know what schools are asking students to research and what books and other resources are being required. To establish or improve communication, librarians can offer presentations about library services to teachers at staff trainings, students at assemblies, and members of the Parent-Teacher Organization during meetings. Librarians should also create and distribute bibliographies for subject areas that are taught every year. Finally, a library representative should ask teachers about the books/materials they will require their students to read so that the library can be stocked accordingly.
- Whenever there are programs at the library that would benefit local service providers such as Head Start, nursing homes, etc., invite them. Head Start staff and elementary school teachers frequently request story times at their facility and might benefit from a workshop on storytelling. Library systems can develop theme-based packages on seasons, holidays, etc. suitable for long-term loan.
- Contact local school and community college guidance counselors to promote library services which improve student achievement. Bookmarks detailing access information for resources available through MAGNOLIA or Learn-a-Test should be provided.
Services to Home Schoolers – Homeschooled children and their parents rely heavily on the public library to supplement the students’ curriculum. These customers should be reminded to take advantage of all the library services available, especially computer classes and online databases. Available staff can also be used on an appointment basis to demonstrate these services and resources to homeschool groups or families. Librarians may choose to meet homeschool groups off of the library premises in order to demonstrate the online resources and features that can be accessed outside of the library.
English as a Second Language (ESL) – The population of the State of Mississippi is becoming more diverse. The library should identify these varied populations in the local community and help these new citizens by providing programs and materials where English is the second language. Additionally, librarians should look for opportunities to serve ESL patrons well and without prejudice.
Dilger-Hill, Jeannie and Erica MacCreigh, eds. On the Road with Outreach: Mobile Library Services. Santa Barbara: Libraries Unlimited, 2010. Print.
Pfeil, Angela B. Going Places with Youth Outreach: Smart Marketing Strategies for Your Library. Chicago: American Library Association, 2005. Print.
Smallwood, Carol, ed. Librarians as Community Partners: An Outreach Handbook. Chicago: American Library Association, 2010. Print.
Public library statistics are collected, interpreted, and presented in a way that tells libraries’ stories. State law requires that public libraries report annually. The Mississippi Code 1972 Annotated §39-3 -107 states:
“The commission shall each year obtain from all public libraries in the state reports showing the conditions, growth, development. . .with such facts and statistics . . . as it may deem to be of public interest . . . .”
Federal law also requires the collection of this data under the mandate in the Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Act of 2010 as stated in 20 U.S.C sec. 9108 (analysis of impact of museum and library services, policy research, analysis, data collection and dissemination) in SEC 210. The Library Commission publishes Mississippi’s Public Library Statistics and submits them to IMLS on a yearly basis via the Bibliostat Collect reporting platform. IMLS issues an annual report analyzing public libraries on a national basis.
Reporting Time Line
Each year, the state data coordinator opens the annual statistical report on October 1st and advertises this date to library system directors. Submission deadlines and guidelines are outlined below:
- October 1
Annual Statistical Report opens
- December 1
Due date for submission
- January 1
1st reminder of missed due date
- February 1
2nd reminder of missed due date – Correspondence to director and copy to board chair
- February 16
(Date may change slightly on a yearly basis) “Drop dead” due date. Those systems that have not submitted their statistics will not receive state aid until the report is submitted.
When the report is received at the Library Commission, the state data coordinator will send an acknowledgment of receipt, usually in the form of an e-mail. As the data is reviewed, there may be additional correspondence with questions to specific items reported.
Uses of Public Library Statistics
At MLC, statistical data is used for planning statewide programs, reporting progress of public libraries, and justification of budget requests from the state legislature. At the federal level, IMLS uses the data to study the national progress of libraries. The American Library Association uses the data to answer media and research questions regarding public libraries. Additionally, the data is used to advocate nationally for libraries and library services. The same is true locally. The library director and other advocates use the data to support budget requests, service policy decisions, and to tell the library story.
Library directors may also use statistics to analyze operations and determine their libraries’ effectiveness. When librarians communicate about operations such as those mentioned above, they should do so in a manner that legislators and stakeholders will remember. Creating bright, professional-looking infographics is a key part to the advocacy process. Here are two free resources that libraries can use to create infographics:
For more information, presentations, and handouts related to statistics, follow this link to MLC’s statistics page: http://mlc.lib.ms.us/ms-libraries/library-development/statistics/.
Mississippi Code 1972 Annotated. Charlottesville, Virginia: Matthew Bender & Company, Inc., 1973-2003. (R 348.762023 M678)
Mississippi Library Commission. Public Library Statistics (Mississippi Library Commission). Annual. Jackson, Mississippi: Mississippi Library Commission, 1988 – (245.1:LS)
The Friends of Mississippi Libraries, Inc. is a membership-based organization that performs the following duties on a statewide level:
- Advocates for library issues on the local, state, and national levels;
- Encourages local chapters to work with their regional library system director and branch librarians to promote local library services;
- Works to expand visibility of libraries in communities throughout Mississippi;
- Meets with local groups interested in establishing or enhancing Friends chapters in their communities;
- Promotes reading and the enjoyment of books by all Mississippians;
- Shares its Internal Revenue Service 501(c) (3) nonprofit designation with chapters throughout the state;
- Serves as a liaison with the national organization, United for Libraries;
- Sponsors a Friends of Mississippi Libraries annual program in October as part of the Mississippi Library Association Conference.
Local Level, Friends of the Library Chapters
On a local level, Friends of the Library chapters are found in many Mississippi communities. Friends groups are citizens who join together to support, improve, and promote the local library. Friends groups raise funds for special library programs or services, advocate for library services, volunteer with children’s summer reading programs, sponsor National Library Week events, and other activities.
While the library system’s administrative board of trustees and a Friends chapter share a common vision of the library in the local community, they are separate, autonomous organizations, each with distinct roles. Listed below are suggestions that can assist in maintaining effective working relationships:Click here to read more...
- Friends should recognize that they do not perform a decision-making role for either the library system or the local library.
- The board recognizes the value of and encourages input/opinion from a local Friends chapter.
- The board often appoints a liaison (can be the director or other staff member) to work with the library system’s various Friends chapters.
- The board and the director submit a list of needed items not included in the budget as suggestions for the Friends to purchase. After discussions with the board and/or the director regarding the library’s needs, the governing board of the Friends chapter makes decisions on the expenditures.
- Friends not only support the library system’s long range plans/policies, but also serve as advocates for the library system’s programs and services.
Establishing a Friends Chapter
Form a group of concerned citizens interested in the local public library.
- Contact the Friends of Mississippi Libraries, Inc., who will send materials on how to establish a Friends group.
- Review the materials, all required forms are included in the packet available from the Friends of Mississippi Libraries, Inc.
- Elect officers and develop chapter bylaws. This process establishes a Friends of the Library Chapter.
- Work with and maintain communication with the public library system director and local branch librarian.
- Have access to an attorney for legal questions.
- Join the Friends of Mississippi Libraries, Inc. to share the Internal Revenue Service 501(c) (3) non-profit designation with other chapters throughout the state.
- File an Application for Employer Identification Number with the Internal Revenue Service: https://www.irs.gov
- Register as a tax-exempt Charitable Organization with the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office on the official website: http://www.sos.ms.gov/Charities/Pages/default.aspx
- Establish a local bank account.
- Define dues structure and membership categories.
- Develop a membership brochure and begin soliciting memberships.
- Begin a publicity campaign to inform the community about the newly formed Friends of the Library chapter.
Establish partnerships with other community organizations (Chamber of Commerce). Join in community activities, such as Homecoming, local festivals, etc.
- Start local long range planning for the Friends—establish a mission, set goals and objectives, and accountability.
- If fundraising is important, develop a campaign with set goals in order for potential donors to know the intended purpose.
- After consulting with library administration, consider sponsoring programming activities such as a book club, authors with book signings, and lunchtime events with speakers, humanities and arts programs, and supporting children’s events.
- Evaluate the Friends’ activities each year. Report on accomplishments and issues. Adjust the long-range plan each year.
Libraries Need Friends: Starting a Friends Group or Revitalizing the One You Have (PDF, 100 kb) by Sally Gardner Reed, Executive Director, United for Libraries: This free toolkit is geared mostly toward public library Friends groups but includes good tips on membership and outreach for Friends groups of any type.
Publications Available through United for Libraries: Resources from United for Libraries Executive Director Sally Gardner Reed and previous publications used by the organization when it was FOLUSA (Friends of Libraries U.S.A.).
Public library services play a unique role in municipal and county government and are not always understood by local or state officials. It is essential that local and state officials are aware of public library services and their value.” Advocates can fulfill this role.
Advocates include: librarians, trustees, Friends of the Library groups, library patrons, community and institutional leaders, and most importantly, people of all ages and all walks of life who view the public library as an essential part of their community. Being an advocate means communicating, as an individual or group, with decision makers and others in support of or opposition to specific issues.Click here to read more...
Trustees, Friends of the Library members, and other supporters can advocate for their local libraries and library systems more effectively than librarians because:
- They are not paid staff of the public library system.
- They are strong customers/supporters of public library services.
- They see the public library from the user’s viewpoint.
- They are active in the community, understand the power structure, and volunteer with other community groups or civic organizations.
- They vote and are seen as constituents.
The American Library Association has a handbook specifically for Library Advocacy: http://www.ala.org/offices/sites/ala.org.offices/files/content/ola/libraryadvocateshandbook.pdf
Library advocacy is part of an ongoing plan coordinated through the efforts of the administrative board of trustees and the public library system director. Ideally, each public library system should have a written advocacy plan that targets community leaders—Including local, state, and federal government officials—on a continual basis. Successful advocacy tells a library’s story by combining lobbying techniques with marketing concepts and public relations skills.Click here to read more...
Library advocacy should be tied to the public library system’s mission, goals, and ongoing public awareness program. To implement an effective advocacy campaign, a detailed action plan with clearly defined goals and objectives is essential. To be effective, a public library system’s supporters must be able to articulate library service needs with an easily understood unified message. An advocacy plan should:
- Define goals and objectives.
- Identify desired outcomes (e.g., new legislation, more funding, greater visibility)
- Assess whether or not the library is meeting its objectives in targeted areas
- Identify barriers/opposition/strengths/potential supporters.
- Identify critical tasks.
- Key areas include:
- Steering committee
- Coordination of activities with ALA/state association
- Develop a communication plan.
- Key elements include:
- Defining the key message
- Targeting key audiences
- Identifying communication strategies and resources needed
- Develop a work plan with tasks, assignments and deadlines.
- Monitor progress regularly.
- Document and evaluate results.
- Identify ways to improve future efforts.
- Key elements include:
- Key areas include:
The American Library Association has a workbook that can assist with developing an Advocacy Plan: http://www.ala.org/advocacy/sites/ala.org.advocacy/files/content/advleg/advocacyinstitute/Advocacy%20Action%20Plan%20-%20revised%2001-09.pdf
As part of an advocacy strategy, it is important to inform groups or individuals speaking on the public library’s behalf about the organization’s message. Important components of the message include but are not limited to:
- The public library system’s advocacy goal
- The library system’s key message (10 to 15 words)
- The system’s target audience
- Why the advocacy goal is important to that audience
- Three supporting points relating to the issues in question
- Examples/stories/facts of local impact to support the message
Factors that can influence an advocacy strategy:
- Having a positive approach. Be considerate and polite.
- Timing. Year-round contact with public officials. Keep current on political developments and adhere to the governing body’s timetable.
- Know the personality and interests of public officials; relate library goals to those interests.
- Align library interests and positions with those of other groups/organizations.
- Thank public officials, regardless of outcome or argument.
- Recognize public officials who support library efforts.
Resources Relating to Advocacy
- Mississippi Library Association (MLA): A membership organization of trustees, librarians, and advocates whose mission is to provide professional leadership for the development, promotion, and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all. MLA is a chapter organization of the American Library Association (ALA) and the Southeastern Library Association (SELA). (http://firstname.lastname@example.org)
- United for Libraries: A national network of enthusiastic library supporters who believe in the importance of libraries as the social and intellectual centers of communities and campuses. No one has a stronger voice for libraries than those who use them, raise money for them, and govern them. By uniting these voices, library supporters everywhere will become a real force to be reckoned with at the local, state, and national levels. (http://www.ala.org/united/)
A personnel policy provides the staff with a clear understanding of employee rights and benefits, as well as the rules and regulations set forth by the library system. A personnel policy is formalized and adopted by the Board of Trustees. This policy is a reflection of the philosophy and mission of the library system; it sets rules of conduct, service standards, supervision of the staff, employee benefits, and other issues that are related to the employment of individuals.
A well-written personnel policy will serve as a reference guide for the employer and the employee. But most important of all, a personnel policy provides structure. A clear direction is established; the staff knows what is expected of them and the repercussions that may occur if they fail to comply with procedures. Whenever a policy is changed or added, it is vital to have all current employees review the changes and confirm that they understand them in writing.Click here to read more...
Components of a personnel policy may include:
- Introductory Materials
- Statement of governance: who is responsible for creating and enforcing the policy
- Organizational chart showing chain of command
- Employment Practices
- Recruitment and selection process
- Staff orientation
- Staff development and training
- Personnel actions: promotions, demotions, and transfers; complaints and grievances; disciplinary actions; terminations from employment
- Performance appraisal system
- Personnel records
- Compensation Program
- Wage and salary system
- Payroll deductions
- Payroll policies
- Conditions at Work
- Attendance, work schedules, and absenteeism
- Health, safety and security issues
- Alcohol and substance abuse
- Customer service and business ethics
- Standards of acceptable employee conduct
- Employee Benefits
- Health and life insurance
- Government mandated benefits: Social Security, Workers’ Compensation, and unemployment insurance
- Leaves: personal leave, sick leave and leaves of absences
If a library employee becomes separated from a job for reasons beyond the employee’s control, that employee may be eligible for unemployment compensation. Claims of unemployment by library employees are covered under Mississippi Code 1972 Annotated §71-5-1 et seq.
Inquiries may be directed to the Mississippi Department of Employment Security or visit the web site at: http://www.mdes.ms.gov.
Public library employees that work 20 hours or more are in the state Public Employees Retirement System (PERS). The library board has the authority to determine how many hours/days an employee receives for various leaves. When determining the accumulated time of a public library employee pertaining to retirement, the State uses its own formula based on how much time a state employee can earn, accumulate, and apply toward retirement.
There are Attorney General’s Opinions (AGO, Stroud, January 16, 1990; Keyes, May 24, 1991; Carter, May 28, 1991) stating that municipal, county, and public library employees receive the same ten (10) holidays as state employees (Mississippi Code 1972 Annotated §3-3-7). These opinions also say that while these employees may receive fewer days they cannot receive more than ten (10) days. There is also the option of substituting one qualified holiday for a day selected by the library board.
Congress passed the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 (USA PATRIOT Act) on October 25, 2001 in response to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. This law greatly expanded federal law surveillance and investigative powers. Of concern to public libraries are library records, including patron files and electronic communications.
The Mississippi Code addresses the confidentiality of library user records in §39-3-365. MLC contacted the Office of the Attorney General for clarification and the following statement is excerpted from the original:
As your paperwork clearly reflects, there is no conflict between Section 39-3-365, and the USA Patriot Act. Our state provision has in essence been expanded to require the release of the confidential records at issue when the library has been served with a search warrant. The bottom line, all search warrants and court orders must be honored unless withdrawn by the court.
The wisest course of action is for library systems to be prepared to handle such an occurrence. Proper procedures should be installed to handle this possibility. These procedures should cover chain of command, notifications, etc. Library systems must comply with legally issued subpoenas or warrants. Library personnel should know the difference between the following two legal documents and act accordingly.
Warrant – a document directing or authorizing someone to do an act, especially an order for arrest, search or seizure. A warrant is immediately executed.
Subpoena – to order the production of documents or other things.
The Office of Government Relations, part of the American Library Association’s Washington Office, is tasked with “a broad range of issues including, but not limited to: appropriations, copyright, library programs, government information, privacy, and telecommunications.” This oversight includes monitoring the USA PATRIOT Act on behalf of libraries across the country and making recommendations to protect privacy and confidentiality of library and patron records regardless of format. Please see the 2016 Privacy/Surveillance/Cybersecurity Fact Sheet for more information.