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Procedures Manuals

Page history last edited by Staci Cox 16 years ago


Procedures Manuals


Procedures are simply instructions telling how a certain task is to be done (1)You may want to write procedures for checking out a book, closing the library, ordering library materials and other routine tasks.  Procedures manuals are especially helpful for substitutes, volunteers, and student aides.  The time spent creating procedures manuals for these individuals will save you hours in the long run:  unexpected absences will be less stressful, precious time with volunteers will be more productive, and student aides will operate on a more independent basis. Procedures manuals are also invaluable tools for new staff members after you resign or retire.  A quality procedures manual will ensure a smooth transition for the students, staff, and new librarian.


How do procedures differ from policies, rules and standards? 

  • Policies are the broad statements of purpose and philosophy that determine decisions and actions.  Procedures, rules, and standards are subordinate to policies.
  • Procedures are a series or sequence of related activities designed to standardize the performance of tasks that are part of a major operation.  Procedures are the actions to take in a particular situation.   
  • Rules are regulations and restrictions establishing standards of behavior such as “No Food in the Library.”  You will want to keep rules to a minimum.  
  • Standards are concerned with outcomes or results.  They deal with quality, quantities, and units of productivity.   


Why write procedures? 

  • To establish methods of handling repetitive tasks 
  • To set standards of performance 
  • To aid evaluation 
  • To place the responsibility for performance on the individual 
  • To provide for continuity of action 
  • To serve as a training tool for students and volunteers 
  • To provide for uniform practices
  • To strengthen supervision 


How to organize your procedures manual?


Use a large loose-leaf notebook with dividers for handy desktop reference.  Because procedures are site-specific, it is imperative that they remain at the school so they can be accessed in the event of a staff change, unexpected absence, or emergency.  It is wise to maintain a digital copy of the procedures manual so updates and revisions will be quick and simple.  Be sure to store a back up of your electronic copy on the school server, CD, or other portable storage device.  Make sure the principal, technology specialist, and all library staff members know where to access the print and electronic copies of your library's procedures manual.


Carefully consider topics you want to include such as:


1.  Philosophy 

  • Include the district mission statement as well as your school and/or school library mission statement


2.  Goals and Objectives 

  • Include district and school goals and objectives as well as those of your library media center
  • Include short and long-term goals


3.  Information Resources 

  • Collection Development
  • Resource Sharing
  • Interlibrary Loan


4.  Personnel 

  • Include the job description and specific job responsibilities of each staff member, volunteer, or student aide.
  • Delineate the responsibilities of the district library coordinator if you have one


5.  Facilities 

  • Describe the library space requirements and use
  • Include floor plans or any specific information regarding space allocation


6.  Library Program 

  • Instruction
    • Include the library/information literacy skills curriculum for your school or district
    • Include the Library/Information Literacy Standards from the State ofAlaska, the Alaska Association of School Librarians and your local school district.
    • Describe the formal program of instruction
    • Describe the informal program for instruction


7.  Services 

  • List and describe the services of your library
    • Information Resources
    • Instruction
    • Consulting 


8.  Evaluation & Reports


9.  Index 


 Tips for Writing Procedurers

  • Begin each procedure on a separate page
  • Begin with a list of materials needed
  • Consider using bulleted outlines or flow charts
  • Include a table of contents
  • Include an index if your manual is longer than 25 pages
  • Use descriptive headings
  • Use simple words and as few as possible
  • Use positive, direct language
  • Organize the text in logical sequence
  • Use illustrations (screen shots, diagrams, etc.)
  • Define terms that may be misunderstood
  • Use a readable font size, e.g. 12 pt.
  • Have someone test and evaluate the procedure after you have written it
  • Check your spelling
  • Date each section as you write or revise it
  • Update and revise continually





Cubberley, Carol W. “Write Procedures that Work” Library Journal. Sept. 15, 1991.


Kolb, Audrey. Manual for Small Libraries in Alaska. Alaska State Library, 1992.







1. Kolb, Audrey. Manual for Small Libraries in Alaska, 1992.

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