Reflection on writing policy

Assembling a workable policy document is an excellent exercise in considering the unconsidered and justifying the assumed. While the process involves numerous instances of stating the obvious, anyone working in the public service can speak to how important the obvious statement can be: it sets up the framework that specificity and nuance are then built upon.

The line between policy and procedure is not always able to be determined absolutely, but this is not necessarily a bad thing. Ideally, the fundamental philosophies that underpin aspects of policy will inform procedure anyway. This is particularly so in areas such as transparency, accountability, and respect for all participants in the school community. The very fact of thinking to state that the Library Policy is to be made available to all, for example, may seem to go without saying, or to be a procedural note, but it is actually an important reflection of those philosophies. Similarly the statement that suggestions, requests and feedback are welcomed and will be given all due consideration.

The vagueness of descriptions of Selection Criteria is something that has yet to be solved by the models of library policy writing. Again, to some degree this is not entirely a bad thing, as an intangible discretion will always be the ultimate guide, but it is an area where there is still work to be done. If the policy above had not been subject to a word limit it would have been augmented to include as concrete as possible a list of criteria, rather than merely references to an external document, and would also have included more extensive notes on the difference in what constitutes useful criteria for different formats. Maintenance of the library website should probably have its own policy section.

A school library collection is an evolving thing. The world changes, delivery methods change, the students change. New books are written, content previously communicated in book form begins to be served better via an e-book or a web page. The expectations of the users shift, but no less so the perceptions of the pedagogue of what constitutes the role of the teacher and its optimum expression. The collection must respond to the needs of its users, but establishing the nature of those needs is its own task, requiring attention and skill from the TL. It is clear that a mental attitude that views the library collection not as a static object but a mutable one, with a policy that reflects this, is going to be the most effective approach for all involved.

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