Category Archives: Policies

Video Surveillance

Video Surveillance

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.



Social Media Policies

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. <–Creating-a-Social-Media-Policy.shtml>


Capital Area District Libraries. SER 205 Social Media Policy. 19 Dec. 2012. Web. 23 June 2016. <>


Cleveland Public Library. “Policy on the Use of CPL’s Social Media Sites.” Cleveland Public Library. n. pag. Web. 23 June 2016. <>


National Labor Relations Board. “The National Labor Relations Board and Social Media.” n. pag. Web.  22 June 2016 <>


MLC’s Social Media Policy. < >


Heidelberger, Brian. “Eight Ways Your Employee Social-Media Policy May Violate Federal Law.”


Advertising Age. 12 June 2012. Web. 23 June 2016. <>

Personnel Policy and Unemployment

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.

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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
    • Retirement
    • Government mandated benefits: Social Security, Workers’ Compensation, and unemployment insurance
    • Holidays
    • 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:



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.