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Human Resources

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Library leaders will be able to mitigate risk and consistently foster a healthy and effective work environment, ultimately better serving their communities and ensuring a positive patron experience.


The human resources standard for public libraries includes three elements: general policies needed to handle employment for the library, guidelines concerning staffing, and plans for professional development.

The Library Governing Authority is responsible for policy oversight. The library director is responsible for policy implementation, paying attention to legal issues, professionalism, and employee well-being. A director with a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree has completed a program that teaches the skills needed to manage library operations. The board should consider this degree and experience when hiring a director.

As institutions of learning, libraries create a “culture of learning,” not only for their community but also for the library staff and trustees. Creating a learning culture for all staff and trustees is an ongoing effort. Professional development opportunities for staff are a key part of maintaining this learning culture.

Checklist: Basic


  1. Follow state and federal laws in recruiting, hiring, and terminating employees.
  2. Maintain current staff compensation policies and provide wages and benefits that reflect community and market standards.
  3. Use written job descriptions to hire, develop goals, and conduct performance evaluations.


  1. Employ a library director who, minimally, has a college degree, and preferably a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science or the equivalent.
  2. Ensure enough staff to provide quality community and customer (or patron) service.
  3. Recruit and select staff to represent community demographics, especially focusing on cultural and multilingual diversity while avoiding discrimination.
  4. Schedule paid staff to offer library services to all library patrons during open hours.
  5. Create human resource policies or an Employee Handbook for employee orientations. Review for updates at least every two years.
  6. Adopt a staffing plan that addresses job descriptions, competencies, organizational development, and succession planning.

Professional Development

  1. Ensure all library employees are proficient in carrying out the library’s values, philosophy, management, and operational practices.
  2. Reimburse staff and board members who attend professional development offerings.
  3. Allocate funding for staff development.

Checklist: Future-Focused

  1. Provide in-house and continuing education activities for staff, trustees, and volunteers.
  2. Provide funding and time for staff to participate in ongoing development opportunities during the year, with participation tied to annual plans and review.