New Library Directors Handbook

Personnel Policy

The library may operate under the personnel policy of the governing authority. You may be required to use city or county application forms, etc. If your library doesn't follow city or county policies or if you do not have a personnel policy, creating one should be one of your goals. A well-thought out policy is the heart of a good management system. Here are some of the things that should be included in a personnel policy:

The mission statement for the library

General expectations of all employees

Job descriptions for all positions

General descriptions of compensation

Description of benefits, including paid leave

Description of staff development and continuing education opportunities

Hiring procedures

Job evaluation procedures

Procedures for promotion

Disciplinary procedures

Grievance procedures

Procedures to terminate employment

Because your personnel policy is a legal document that may be treated as part of an implied contract between the library and its employees, it should be reviewed by your library's attorney before it is finalized and approved.

We'll now look at each of these parts separately. Remember even if you're a small library, personnel procedures must be equitable for all employees. The legal implications of bad personnel policies are the same for any size library.

The mission statement for the library: Employees are expected to support the mission statement of the library. This also reinforces the purpose of your library.

General expectations of all employees: A general expectation includes things like treating customers and co-workers with respect. It is a listing of what every employee should be doing.

Job descriptions for all positions: Job descriptions are specific for each employee. Job descriptions are the most important part of a personnel policy because they are the basis for hiring, evaluation, and discipline. They should include:

A detailed description of the results of the work to be done by the position.

A description of the minimum educational and experiential requirements of the person holding the position.

A description of other desired education and experiential traits of the person holding the position.

General description of compensation: A simple description of salary ranges and other compensation.

Description of benefits, including paid leave: Answers questions like what types of benefits does your library offer? Does it offer retirement? Insurance?

Description of staff development and continuing education opportunities: Libraries are changing rapidly like so many things in this world. Staff needs continuous training and opportunities for development. The opportunity to grow and learn is important to many people and can motivate them to do better. List what types of development and continuing education opportunities exist for staff.

Hiring procedures: We'll look at this one in a lot more detail later on, but it should include the hiring process of the library. This includes things like whether or not you conduct more than one interview, how you recruit people and how you select people.

Job evaluation procedures: Again we'll go over this one in more detail, but this part of the policy should answer questions like how often do you evaluate someone and what methods do you use.

Procedures for promotion: It's fine if you promote from within, but remember to state this in your policies. A word of warning, be careful that the employee you are promoting meets the minimum qualifications that you have listed on the job description for the position. Since promotion is a reward for better than average service, you should also be able to document that the employee you are promoting has had better than average evaluations in the lower level position. This is especially important if more than one employee has expressed an interest in being promoted to the higher position.

Disciplinary procedures: If it is necessary to discipline an employee what steps will you take. What is your disciplinary process? This topic will be covered in more detail.

Grievance procedures: Employees may perceive a personnel problem differently from their supervisor. Because of this, employees should have a procedure to follow when they feel that they have not been treated fairly. The policy should clearly state the steps an employee must take when filing a grievance procedure.

Procedures to terminate employment: To protect yourself, clearly lay out what procedures you will follow when terminating an employee. We will talk about termination when we discuss discipline.

Believe it or not, that was the brief overview of personnel management. The rest of the chapter will look at the bigger parts of the process in more detail. After you have decided that you need staff, the first step is hiring.