Libraries everywhere have experienced a lot of changes from the introduction of new technologies to changes in community expectations about libraries’ roles.
The Internet and social media have had major impacts on library functions and services, more patrons are requesting e-books and e-magazines, but people still rely on libraries for information, programs, services and a sense of community
In order to ensure that library policies stay relevant and up-to-date, the Los Alamos County Library board and staff recommended changes to some of the local libraries’ policies. These policies went before Council for its approval during Tuesday night’s meeting.
The recommended policies changes included:
Photographing or videotaping in the library
Language would be added to allow the library to record library programs and events through photographs and/or video and use these photos or video to publicize and promote library services including posting on social media outlets. Additionally, the new policy would require patrons and visitors to obtain permission from other patrons or staff before videotaping or photographing them.
The policy would be changed so that donations can’t be accepted on a conditional basis. This is to ensure operational efficiency and to eliminate potential issues around future disposal of donated items.
Public Access Computing, Including Internet Use
The recommendation is to do away with requiring signed permission cards for minors to use or view the Internet on library computers. Parental restrictions cannot be enforced and the signed permissions does not guarantee that a minor won’t have unauthorized access to the Internet.
Access to public meeting rooms should not be based on meeting content or affiliation and therefore rooms will be scheduled on a first-come, first serve basis. Previously, nonprofits were scheduled rooms on a yearly basis before other reservations were accepted. Additionally, the library would be able to deny use of meeting rooms or reschedule a reservation if a conflict arises with a library sponsored function. The library plans to introduce an online reservation system to allow users to check meeting room availability and book rooms online.
Library Manager Eileen Sullivan explained that the policies haven’t been updated since 2010 so it was time to review them. She said technology changes, the prevalence of social media, the Internet as well as the public’s expectation for libraries have all required changes in libraries’ operations and environment.
“We are here to serve the community,” Sullivan said. “For us it is really essential to be tuned into what our community wants and needs.”
She also pointed out Los Alamos is getting a lot of newcomers as a result of the Laboratory hiring new employees. It is important, she said, to accommodate what this new demographic wants in their library.
“We strive to be aware of what the community needs from us and respond to changing needs,” Sullivan said.
Work on the new policies started back in January. Sullivan said revising library policies was part of the board’s work plan.
She explained the board reviewed the policies one-by-one. During each meeting board members and library management focused on just a few policies. Input was also gathered from librarians.
Los Alamos County Assistant Attorneys Kevin Powers and Katie Thwaites also assisted in the process to make sure the revisions were clear and aligned with the First Amendment interpretations, Sullivan said.
If Council approves the policy changes, (see update in Post later today) Sullivan said the library will reach out to users affected by the changes, develop guidelines that align with the revisions, and inform users of new procedures. She added library staff will work with regular meeting room users, so they are aware of the changes in scheduling. There will be a link on the library’s website for information about the meeting room software and how to use it. The hope is to have the new scheduling system implemented early next year.