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Rolling Hills Library Policy Manual

SECTION 1 - Organizational Policies
SECTION 2 - Management Policies 
SECTION 3 - Personnel Policies
SECTION 4 - Library Services
SECTION 5 - Technical Services & Collection Policies

SECTION 1 - Organizational Policies

1.1 Library Mission & Vision
1.2 Library History
1.3 Library Strategic Planning
1.4 Library Board Bylaws
1.5 Board Member Orientation & Training
1.6 Board Ethics & Conflict of Interest
1.7 Library Policies
1.8 Missouri State Library
1.9 Confidentiality of Library Records
1.10 Respect for Human Diversity
1.11 Library Ethics
1.12 Library Bill of Rights
1.13 Freedom to Read & Freedom to View
1.14 Libraries: An American Value
1.15 Intellectual Freedom
1.16 Customer Service
1.1 Library Mission & Vision


To strengthen our communities by transforming lives through literacy and lifelong learning.


The library’s physical presence will anchor and strengthen our communities.     RHCL will be…

…a model for lifelong learning, innovation, and creativity.

…a space that inspires children and nurtures a love of reading, imagination, and discovery.

…a place that engages adults and connects them with ideas, people, and knowledge.


EXCELLENCE…in all that we do.

INTEGRITY…in all that we are entrusted with.

PASSION…for literacy, learning, and libraries that change lives.

Approved by RHCL Board of Trustees on August 23, 2011; Revised February 24, 2015; October 24, 2023.  Back to Top

1.2 Library History
In April 1961, a two county library system was formed called the Andrew and Buchanan County Regional Library. On August 17, 1961, the name was changed to the Rolling Hills Regional Library which served all of Andrew County and Buchanan County outside of the city limits of Saint Joseph. The headquarters was located in the basement of the Washington Park Library in Saint Joseph and service was offered primarily by bookmobile to the rural areas of the counties.

In 1963, space was leased at 413 N. Belt Hwy. in Saint Joseph for administrative offices and the growing collection. Space was made for a deposit collection in a Savannah elementary school, and later space was leased in the basement of the Andrew County Courthouse. Mr. James Hawkins offered to build a library for Savannah and lease it to the Regional Library, and in August 1965 the Savannah branch was opened with 2000 square feet to serve the northern portion of the district.

In July 1973, the courts approved the consolidation of the Andrew County and Buchanan County Library Districts officially into the Rolling Hills Consolidated Library district. This action was based on a new Missouri law at the time that allowed this kind of library management structure. During this time, service was offered in Savannah, Saint Joseph, and to rural areas using the “Book Buggy” a station wagon outfitted with books and materials. Films were also shown in rural towns sponsored by the Library. At this time, the library levy was set at $.10 per $100 of valuation.

In 1975 and 1976, voters were asked to increase the library levy and both times the measure was rejected. Budget woes of both the Rolling Hills Consolidated Library and the St Joseph Public Library were often discussed in the news, although few solutions were found. The bookmobile, which had been limited in service, was discontinued in June 1979 due to lack of funds. In 1982, a successful levy election increased the rate to $.20 per $100 of valuation, which has subsequently been rolled back due to state statute requirements. The Library’s administrative offices and southern branch moved in 1983 to 1904 N. Belt Hwy. in Saint Joseph into space rented from the W.M. Grace Construction Company. In 1984, the Library purchased the building at 514 W. Main in Savannah and doubled the space in 1985 to 4000 square feet.

In 1989, the Rolling Hills Consolidated Library and the St. Joseph Public Library entered into a management agreement to create the River Bluffs Regional Library. This contract included the provision of services and allowed the two library entities to share in an automation system. Each separate Board of Trustees continued to exist, and the two Boards met together to manage the system.

In November 1999, voters passed an additional operating levy for the entire regional library district of $.15 per $100 of valuation which would sunset in 20 years. This campaign was based on building a new branch on the east side of St. Joseph to replace the Eastside Branch and renovating all of the other branches of the River Bluffs Regional Library. The two taxing districts at the time had two different permanent operating levies, $.16 for Rolling Hills and $.27 for St. Joseph.

To the disappointment of many, the River Bluffs Regional Library was dissolved on November 16, 2001, when the St. Joseph Public Library Board voted to end the agreement and allow the two taxing districts to continue on their own. Both the creation and the dissolution of the River Bluffs Regional Library made national library news, first with the innovation and cooperation in creating the agreement and then in the drama and separation details that followed the end of the partnership.

In 2002, Rolling Hills Consolidated Library added another 4500 square feet to the Savannah Branch, bringing the service area to 8500 total square feet. Then in 2003, RHCL purchased the building it had been renting space in at 1900 N. Belt Hwy. and completed a total renovation of the property in 2006. The Belt Branch library occupied the lower level of the building at 1904 N. Belt Hwy. with 20,000 square feet. An additional 3000 square feet of space was used on the upper level for administrative offices at 1912 N. Belt Hwy.

In 2010, a portion of the upper level space was renovated to create a large meeting room and programming area for the Belt Branch, named the Library Annex at 1906A N. Belt Hwy, bringing the total branch square footage to 23,000. Other retail spaces continued to be rented out on the upper level. A bookmobile was purchased and put into service in 2013 to serve the outlying areas of both counties, reviving this service with a large donation from the Rolling Hills Library Support Foundation. In 2014, plans were approved to renovate empty retail space on the upper level to provide the Friends of the Library with space for their bookstore and house the growing outreach collection used in bookmobile services, bringing administrative space to 6400 square feet. In 2017, the library used designated funds to renovate the interior of the Savannah Branch, using bright, new colors and including two study rooms and a new service desk area.

Part of the library's operating levy was set to expire in 2020. The Board of Trustees formed a Levy Committee in 2019 and selected ballot language to go to the voters in August of 2019 to renew the $0.15 levy with another 20 year sunset. The campaign was brief but very successful, and the levy issue passed with 80% voting in favor. The chart below documents the turnout and vote results from the 2019 ballot measure. The Board is now focused on strategic planning and looking to the future of the library system.

Approved by RHCL Board of Trustees on September 22, 2015. Revised on February 18, 2020.  Back to Top

1.3 Library Strategic Planning
Strategic planning for the library should be conducted every three to five years as stated in the Missouri Public Library Standards, published by the Missouri State Library. This process will involve input from the Board, Library Director, and Staff. A review of statistical data, patron surveys and interviews, and other area planning documents will be included in the process. The end result of strategic planning should be a Plan of Service document that outlines library goals and objectives for a specified period of time.

Library goals and objectives are determined on a periodic basis through the strategic planning process. These goals will be communicated to all library constituent groups and will be evaluated regularly by the library Board, Library Director, and Staff. Goals and objectives may be modified between each strategic planning document at the discretion of the Director with approval of the Board.

Approved by RHCL Board of Trustees on September 22, 2015.  Back to Top

1.4 Library Board Bylaws
ARTICLE I: Name and Powers

1. This organization shall be called "The Board of Trustees of the Rolling Hills Consolidated Library" existing by virtue of Chapter 182 of the laws of the State of Missouri, and possessing and exercising the powers and authority and assuming the responsibilities delegated to it under the said statutes and other applicable laws.


1. The duties of the Board of Trustees of the Rolling Hills Consolidated Library shall be to:

(a) Employ a competent and qualified chief librarian who shall be designated as the Director.

(b) Determine and adopt written policies to govern the operation and programs of the library consistent with applicable local, State, and Federal laws.

(c) Determine the purposes of the library and secure adequate funds to carry on the library's programs.

(d) Know the programs and needs of the library in relation to the community; keep abreast of standards and library trends; cooperate with the director in planning the library programs and support the director and staff in carrying them out.

(e) Establish, support, and participate in a planned public relations program consistent with legal requirements and limitations regarding political activities.

(f) Assist in the preparation of the annual budget.

(g) Know local and state laws; actively support library legislation in the state and nation.

(h) Establish among the library policies those dealing with the selection of books and other materials.

(i) Attend meetings regularly and see that accurate records are kept on file at the library.

(j) Attend regional, state, and national trustee meetings and workshops and affiliate with the appropriate professional organizations when possible.

(k) Develop retention plans and schedules for the storage and maintenance of public records consistent with Ch. 610 RSMo.


1. The officers shall be a president, a vice-president, a treasurer, and a secretary, elected for a term of one (1) year at the annual meeting of the Board of Trustees who shall take office at the close of the annual meeting.

2. A nominating committee comprised of at least two (2) members of the Board of Trustees shall be appointed by the president within sufficient time prior to the July meeting to present a single slate of candidates for officers to be voted on at the July meeting. The committee shall determine if the nominees will serve if elected. Additional nominations may be made from the floor during the July meeting with the consent of the additional nominee(s).

3. The president shall preside at all meetings of the Board of Trustees, authorize calls for any special meetings, appoint all committees, execute all documents authorized by the Board of Trustees, serve as an ex-officio voting member of all committees with the exception of the nominating committee, and perform all duties as are generally associated with that office, authorized by law, or as may be delegated by the Board of Trustees from time to time.

4. The vice-president, in the absence or disability of the president or in the event of a vacancy in that office, shall assume and perform the duties of the president.

5. The treasurer shall, as the financial officer of the Board of Trustees, under the supervision of the Board of Trustees, account for moneys paid to or collected by the Board of Trustees and those received from bequests, donations and any other source; and perform such other duties as are generally associated with that office, authorized by law, or as may be delegated by the Board of Trustees from time to time.

6. The secretary shall keep, or cause to be kept, a true and accurate record of all meetings of the Board of Trustees, shall issue, or cause to be issued, notice of all regular and special meetings, and shall perform such other duties as are generally associated with that office, authorized by law, or as may be delegated by the Board of Trustees from time to time. If the secretary is absent from a meeting of the Board of Trustees, the president may designate a trustee or other person to perform the secretary's duties.

7. In the event of a vacancy in any office, the Board of Trustees shall establish procedures for the appointment of or election of a successor for the unexpired portion of the term.

8. Any officer of the Board of Trustees who misses three (3) consecutive meetings, without a good cause may, upon written notice signed by at least two (2) Trustees, be removed from duty as an officer at a meeting of the Board of Trustees at which a quorum is present, and a majority of those present shall so approve, provided that the notice has been delivered or mailed to such officer at least fifteen (15) days prior to said meeting.

ARTICLE IV: Committees

1. On or before the first day of July an annual budget shall be prepared by a Budget Committee which shall consist of the president of the Board of Trustees, the treasurer, plus one additional Trustee as designated by the president.

2. The president shall appoint other committees for such specific purposes as the business of the Board of Trustees requires from time to time. The committee shall be discharged upon the completion of the purpose for which it is appointed.

3. No committee shall have other than advisory powers unless it is granted specific power to act by the Board of Trustees.

4. Standing committees, serving for one (1) year, may be appointed by the president.

ARTICLE V: Meetings

1. The annual meeting of the Board of Trustees shall be held each year on the 4th Tuesday of July. The Board of Trustees may change the date, time or place of the annual meeting as it determines at any regular meeting or special meeting called for such purpose.

2. Regular meetings shall be scheduled and held consistent with State Law, the date, time and place to be determined by the Board of Trustees.

3. Special meetings may be called by the secretary, at the direction of the president, or at the request of any two (2) Trustees, with, under ordinary circumstances, a notice of a minimum of 24 hours, for the transaction of business as stated in the call for the meeting.

4. (a) Five (5) members of the Board of Trustees shall be required as a quorum for the transaction of any business. If a quorum is not available for any regular monthly meeting, the treasurer, or in his or her absence any other available officer of the Board of Trustees, shall be empowered to approve payment of monthly bills within the authorization of the approved annual budget, to be followed at the next regular monthly meeting at which a quorum is present by the approval of this action by the affirmative vote of the majority of those present.

(b) The affirmative vote of the majority of those present constituting a quorum shall be binding, except where other action for approval is specifically required by these bylaws.

5. The order of business for meetings may include, but not be limited to, the following items:

Call to order
Roll call of members
Public Comment
Approval of the Agenda
Approval of the minutes of the previous regular meeting and any intervening special meetings;
New business
Unfinished Business

6. The Director may be present at all meetings of the Board of Trustees except at a meeting closed under the provisions of the open meetings law of Missouri, Chapter 610 RSMo, at which the Director's evaluation and/or salary is discussed.

7. All meetings of the Board of Trustees, except those which deal with matters excepted in the open meetings law of Missouri, shall be open to the public and written notice shall be posted for the same at least twenty-four (24) hours prior to the same excepting those special meetings which may qualify under Chapter 610 RSMo as exceptions to this requirement.

8. One or more Board members may participate in a meeting by means of a conference telephone or video conferencing or similar communications equipment and/or software at the discretion of the Board President. This remote participation shall count towards the quorum requirements and Board members may cast votes. Voting by proxy is not permitted.

9. Proceedings of all meetings shall be governed by Robert's Rules of Order, Revised.

ARTICLE VI: Director

1. The Board of Trustees shall appoint a competent and qualified Director who shall be the executive and administrative officer of the Rolling Hills Consolidated Library on behalf of the Board of Trustees and under its review and direction. The Director may be both hired and terminated only by an affirmative vote of five (5) members of the Board of Trustees.

2. The duties of the Director shall be to:

(a) Set goals and objectives on short- and long-range bases in consultation with the Board of Trustees.

(b) Carry out policies and directives adopted by the Board of Trustees.

(c) Prepare regular reports on the library's progress and needs for the Board of Trustees.

(d) Act as a technical adviser to the Board of Trustees and recommend needed policies for Board action.

(e) Develop an annual budget in consultation with the Board of Trustees.

(f) Develop and monitor the expenditure of budgeted funds in consultation with the Board of Trustees.

(g) Oversee the recruitment, development and evaluation of both professional and non-professional staff.

(h) Set the tone and service ethic of the staff.

(i) Oversee the promotional activities of the library.

(j) Oversee developmental activities.

(k) Represent the library in community organizations.

(l) Participate in the activities of statewide and national professional library associations.

(m) Assist with duties normally assigned to other professional librarians when necessary.

(n) The Director or person designated in writing by the Director and approved by the Board of Directors, shall serve as the custodian of the records of the Board of Trustees. The Administrative Offices of the Rolling Hills Consolidated Library will keep in their offices a true and correct copy of the Bylaws and all permanent records of the Rolling Hills Consolidated Library.

ARTICLE VII: Indemnification

1. The library will defend, indemnify and hold harmless anyone or all of the trustees, officers, employees, and agents, for any mistake of judgment or other action taken in good faith by the trustees, officers, employees, or agents in performance of their statutory duties, unless resulting from willful negligence or bad faith. Indemnification shall include but shall not necessarily be limited to, attorneys’ fees, judgments, fines, and amounts paid in settlements actually and reasonably incurred.


1. The bylaws may be amended by a vote of two-thirds of those present at a meeting of the Board of Trustees at which a quorum is present, provided actual notice of the proposed amendment shall have been provided to all members by any reasonable means at least five (5) days prior to the meeting at which such action is proposed to be taken.

2. Any rule or resolution of the Board of Trustees, whether contained in these Bylaws or otherwise, may be suspended temporarily in connection with business at hand, but such suspension, to be valid, may be taken only at a meeting at which a quorum is present and a majority of those present shall so approve.

Approved by RHCL Board of Trustees on March 22, 2005. Revised on April 28, 2020.  Back to Top

1.5 Board Member Orientation & Training
It is the responsibility of the Director to make sure that new Board members are given the information they need to be effective board members. Information about the ethical responsibilities of board members and about continuing education and training opportunities for board members should be included in the orientation. Orientation of new library board members should begin as soon as possible after the new board member is appointed. New board members should meet with the Director and the Board President to learn about the following library topics:

  • Organization and governance
  • Funding and budgeting
  • Day-to-day operations of the library
  • Services to the community
  • Links to other resources and libraries
  • Roles of the Director and the Board
  • The legal basis of the Board
  • Officers and committees
  • Meeting location and schedule
  • Responsibilities and expectations
  • Goals, long-range plans, and projects in progress

New members should be given a packet of information that includes:

  • List of Board members’ contact information
  • Minutes of the previous year’s Board meetings
  • Staff list with contact information
  • Library policy manual
  • Library Plan of Service
  • Statistical reports on circulation and other library services
  • Current budget and financial reports
  • Library brochures or other public information distributed by the library

It is critical for library board members to have training in board development, group dynamics, effective meetings, funding issues, library policy, advocacy, community partnering, technology planning, and other topics. RHCL Board members shall participate in continuing education activities as needed or desired.

Approved by RHCL Board of Trustees on September 22, 2015. Back to Top

1.6 Board Ethics & Conflict of Interest
The Library Board will annually adopt and/or endorse a Conflict of Interest/Code of Ethics policy statement as required by the Missouri Ethics Commission. The Library Director and Comptroller will ensure that the proper disclosures have been made to the Missouri Ethics Commission when they are due and that copies of the documents are available for public review.

RHCL endorses the American Library Association’s division United for Libraries: Association of Library Trustees, Advocates, Friends and Foundations’ “Public Library Trustee Ethics Statement”


Public library Trustees are accountable for the resources of the library as well as to see that the library provides the best possible service to its community.

Every Trustee makes a personal commitment to contribute the time and energy to faithfully carry out his/her duties and responsibilities effectively and with absolute truth, honor and integrity.

  • Trustees shall respect the opinions of their colleagues and not be critical or disrespectful when they disagree or oppose a viewpoint different than their own.
  • Trustees shall comply with all the laws, rules and regulations that apply to them and to their library.
  • Trustees, in fulfilling their responsibilities, shall not be swayed by partisan interests, public pressure or fear of criticism.
  • Trustees shall not engage in discrimination of any kind and shall uphold library patrons’ rights to privacy in the use of library resources.
  • Trustees must distinguish clearly in their actions and statements between their personal philosophies and attitudes and those of the library, acknowledging and supporting the formal position of the Board even if they disagree.
  • Trustees must respect the confidential nature of library business and not disclose such information to anyone. Trustees must also be aware of and in compliance with Freedom of Information laws
  • Trustees must avoid situations in which personal interests might be served or financial benefits gained as a result of their position or access to privileged library information, for either themselves or others.
  • A Trustee shall immediately disqualify him/herself whenever the appearance of or a conflict of interest exists.
  • Trustees shall not use their position to gain unwarranted privileges or advantages for themselves or others from the library or from those who do business with the library.
  • Trustees shall not interfere with the management responsibilities of the director or the supervision of library staff.
  • Trustees shall support the efforts of librarians in resisting censorship of library materials by groups or individuals.

Approved by the United for Libraries Board in January 2012. Approved by RHCL Board of Trustees on September 22, 2015.  Back to Top

1.7 Library Policies
Library policies:

  • Provide a mechanism for library managers and staff to translate the library’s mission, goals, and objectives into actions.
  • Serve as the primary tool for ensuring that all staff have the information they need to do their jobs effectively.
  • Provide a way to ensure that all members of the public know what they can expect from the library and that they are treated equitably.
  • Provide support for the library staff and the library governing body in the event of legal action.

Effective library policy manuals:

  • Define current practice.
  • Reflect the library’s priorities.
  • Are current, comprehensive, and consistent.
  • Can be accessed easily by all library staff, and are user friendly.
  • Are in compliance with all relevant local, state, and federal regulations.
  • Are developed and reviewed by all staff who will be affected by the policy content.
    Adapted from Creating Policies for Results (2003) by Sandra Nelson and June Garcia.

All RHCL policies will be reviewed at least once every four years as required by the Missouri State Library by the Board and the Director, with input from Staff when appropriate. A schedule for library policy review will be presented by the Director for approval by the Board.

Approved by RHCL Board of Trustees on September 22, 2015.  Back to Top
1.8 Missouri State Library
The Missouri State Library provides information services for state and local governments, for local libraries and their users, and for people who communicate with the library in the state capital.

The Missouri State Library promotes the development and improvement of library services throughout the state, provides direct library and information service in support of the executive and legislative branches of Missouri state government and strives to ensure all Missourians have equal access to library services.

RHCL is required to report yearly library statistics to the Missouri State Library as a part of the state grant-in-aid process and the state library shares this data at the national level. RHCL will seek to maintain a positive and beneficial relationship with the Missouri State Library on behalf of our community of users.

Approved by RHCL Board of Trustees on September 22, 2015.  Back to Top
1.9 Confidentiality of Library Records
RHCL maintains a trust with members of the public and makes all reasonable and responsible effort to ensure that information about library users and the individual information that they use remains confidential. Library user records are protected by state law as described under RSMo §182.817. All library employees and volunteers will be trained to uphold the library’s policies on confidentiality. No information may be disclosed regarding or including the following:

1. A library user’s name (or whether an individual is a currently registered borrower or not).

2. A library user’s address.

3. A library user’s telephone number.

4. The library’s circulation records and their contents.

5. The library’s borrowers’ records and their contents.

6. A library user’s computer usage or sign-up records.

7. The number or character of questions asked by individual library users.

The frequency or content of a library user’s visits to the library or any other information gathered by the library will not be given, made available, or disclosed to any individual, corporation, institution, government, or law enforcement agency without a valid warrant or court order. No information will be shared with any outside entity for telemarketing purposes, but the library reserves the right to use patron contact information in its own fundraising or information gathering activities.

Approved by RHCL Board of Trustees on September 22, 2015.  Back to Top
1.10 Respect for Human Diversity
RHCL affirms its commitment to the value of human cultural diversity. We pledge to:

  • Create a welcoming environment where the multicultural character of our clientele and staff is recognized and valued.
  • Develop policies which foster a respect for and awareness of diversity.
  • Advocate for equal access to library services regardless of the race, gender, age, religion, language, socio-economic status, ethnicity, national origin, disability, or sexual orientation of the patron.
  • Develop a multicultural collection and provide access to information that is relevant to the experiences, cultures, and historic contributions of a diverse population.
  • Plan and conduct activities and programs incorporating multicultural themes including intergenerational programs.
  • Form alliances with community and regional organizations, institutions, agencies, and businesses in order to reach diverse user populations.
  • Serve as a clearinghouse for resources/information concerning diversity.

Adapted from the Blue Earth County Library Policy Manual, Adopted October 2000, Revised June 2001.

Approved by RHCL Board of Trustees on September 22, 2015.  Back to Top
1.11 Library Ethics
RHCL endorses the American Library Association’s “Code of Ethics” and expects all staff will strive to maintain the highest levels of personal and professional integrity. Library staff may not accept or solicit any gift or service that is offered to influence the employee’s behavior to the advantage of another. Token items, such as food or flowers, may be accepted and shared with other staff. Any gift of significant value should be submitted to the Director for evaluation. Gifts intended for the library rather than an individual will be formally accepted by the Director. Personal gifts to staff will be returned to the giver or forwarded on to an appropriate local charity. Staff is also prohibited from using their position for private gain. Transacting library business with any entity in which staff or their family members have a financial interest is only allowed with clear disclosure and approval by the library Board.

Code of Ethics of the American Library Association

As members of the American Library Association, we recognize the importance of codifying and making known to the profession and to the general public the ethical principles that guide the work of librarians, other professionals providing information services, library trustees and library staffs.

Ethical dilemmas occur when values are in conflict. The American Library Association Code of Ethics states the values to which we are committed, and embodies the ethical responsibilities of the profession in this changing information environment.

We significantly influence or control the selection, organization, preservation, and dissemination of information. In a political system grounded in an informed citizenry, we are members of a profession explicitly committed to intellectual freedom and the freedom of access to information. We have a special obligation to ensure the free flow of information and ideas to present and future generations.

The principles of this Code are expressed in broad statements to guide ethical decision making. These statements provide a framework; they cannot and do not dictate conduct to cover particular situations.

  1. We provide the highest level of service to all library users through appropriate and usefully organized resources; equitable service policies; equitable access; and accurate, unbiased, and courteous responses to all requests.
  2. We uphold the principles of intellectual freedom and resist all efforts to censor library resources.
  3. We protect each library user's right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to information sought or received and resources consulted, borrowed, acquired or transmitted.
  4. We respect intellectual property rights and advocate balance between the interests of information users and rights holders.
  5. We treat co-workers and other colleagues with respect, fairness, and good faith, and advocate conditions of employment that safeguard the rights and welfare of all employees of our institutions.
  6. We do not advance private interests at the expense of library users, colleagues, or our employing institutions.
  7. We distinguish between our personal convictions and professional duties and do not allow our personal beliefs to interfere with fair representation of the aims of our institutions or the provision of access to their information resources.
  8. We strive for excellence in the profession by maintaining and enhancing our own knowledge and skills, by encouraging the professional development of co-workers, and by fostering the aspirations of potential members of the profession.

Adopted at the 1939 Midwinter Meeting by the ALA Council; amended June 30, 1981; June 28, 1995; January 22, 2008.

Approved by RHCL Board of Trustees on September 22, 2015.  Back to Top
1.12 Library Bill of Rights
RHCL endorses the American Library Association’s “Bill of Rights” for libraries and library patrons.

Library Bill of Rights

The American Library Association affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that the following basic policies should guide their services.

I. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.

II. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.

III. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.

IV. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.

V. A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.

VI. Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.

Adopted June 19, 1939, by the ALA Council; amended October 14, 1944; June 18, 1948; February 2, 1961; June 27, 1967; January 23, 1980; inclusion of “age” reaffirmed January 23, 1996.

Approved by RHCL Board of Trustees on November 10, 1981; Updated on September 22, 2015.  Back to Top
1.13 Freedom to Read & Freedom to View
RHCL endorses the American Library Association’s “Freedom to Read” and “Freedom to View” statements for libraries and library patrons.

The Freedom to Read

The freedom to read is essential to our democracy. It is continuously under attack. Private groups and public authorities in various parts of the country are working to remove or limit access to reading materials, to censor content in schools, to label "controversial" views, to distribute lists of "objectionable" books or authors, and to purge libraries. These actions apparently rise from a view that our national tradition of free expression is no longer valid; that censorship and suppression are needed to counter threats to safety or national security, as well as to avoid the subversion of politics and the corruption of morals. We, as individuals devoted to reading and as librarians and publishers responsible for disseminating ideas, wish to assert the public interest in the preservation of the freedom to read.

Most attempts at suppression rest on a denial of the fundamental premise of democracy: that the ordinary individual, by exercising critical judgment, will select the good and reject the bad. We trust Americans to recognize propaganda and misinformation, and to make their own decisions about what they read and believe. We do not believe they are prepared to sacrifice their heritage of a free press in order to be "protected" against what others think may be bad for them. We believe they still favor free enterprise in ideas and expression.

These efforts at suppression are related to a larger pattern of pressures being brought against education, the press, art and images, films, broadcast media, and the Internet. The problem is not only one of actual censorship. The shadow of fear cast by these pressures leads, we suspect, to an even larger voluntary curtailment of expression by those who seek to avoid controversy or unwelcome scrutiny by government officials.

Such pressure toward conformity is perhaps natural to a time of accelerated change. And yet suppression is never more dangerous than in such a time of social tension. Freedom has given the United States the elasticity to endure strain. Freedom keeps open the path of novel and creative solutions, and enables change to come by choice. Every silencing of a heresy, every enforcement of an orthodoxy, diminishes the toughness and resilience of our society and leaves it the less able to deal with controversy and difference.

Now as always in our history, reading is among our greatest freedoms. The freedom to read and write is almost the only means for making generally available ideas or manners of expression that can initially command only a small audience. The written word is the natural medium for the new idea and the untried voice from which come the original contributions to social growth. It is essential to the extended discussion that serious thought requires, and to the accumulation of knowledge and ideas into organized collections.

We believe that free communication is essential to the preservation of a free society and a creative culture. We believe that these pressures toward conformity present the danger of limiting the range and variety of inquiry and expression on which our democracy and our culture depend. We believe that every American community must jealously guard the freedom to publish and to circulate, in order to preserve its own freedom to read. We believe that publishers and librarians have a profound responsibility to give validity to that freedom to read by making it possible for the readers to choose freely from a variety of offerings.

The freedom to read is guaranteed by the Constitution. Those with faith in free people will stand firm on these constitutional guarantees of essential rights and will exercise the responsibilities that accompany these rights.

We therefore affirm these propositions:

1. It is in the public interest for publishers and librarians to make available the widest diversity of views and expressions, including those that are unorthodox, unpopular, or considered dangerous by the majority.

Creative thought is by definition new, and what is new is different. The bearer of every new thought is a rebel until that idea is refined and tested. Totalitarian systems attempt to maintain themselves in power by the ruthless suppression of any concept that challenges the established orthodoxy. The power of a democratic system to adapt to change is vastly strengthened by the freedom of its citizens to choose widely from among conflicting opinions offered freely to them. To stifle every nonconformist idea at birth would mark the end of the democratic process. Furthermore, only through the constant activity of weighing and selecting can the democratic mind attain the strength demanded by times like these. We need to know not only what we believe but why we believe it.

2. Publishers, librarians, and booksellers do not need to endorse every idea or presentation they make available. It would conflict with the public interest for them to establish their own political, moral, or aesthetic views as a standard for determining what should be published or circulated.

Publishers and librarians serve the educational process by helping to make available knowledge and ideas required for the growth of the mind and the increase of learning. They do not foster education by imposing as mentors the patterns of their own thought. The people should have the freedom to read and consider a broader range of ideas than those that may be held by any single librarian or publisher or government or church. It is wrong that what one can read should be confined to what another thinks proper.

3. It is contrary to the public interest for publishers or librarians to bar access to writings on the basis of the personal history or political affiliations of the author.

No art or literature can flourish if it is to be measured by the political views or private lives of its creators. No society of free people can flourish that draws up lists of writers to whom it will not listen, whatever they may have to say.

4. There is no place in our society for efforts to coerce the taste of others, to confine adults to the reading matter deemed suitable for adolescents, or to inhibit the efforts of writers to achieve artistic expression.

To some, much of modern expression is shocking. But is not much of life itself shocking? We cut off literature at the source if we prevent writers from dealing with the stuff of life. Parents and teachers have a responsibility to prepare the young to meet the diversity of experiences in life to which they will be exposed, as they have a responsibility to help them learn to think critically for themselves. These are affirmative responsibilities, not to be discharged simply by preventing them from reading works for which they are not yet prepared. In these matters values differ, and values cannot be legislated; nor can machinery be devised that will suit the demands of one group without limiting the freedom of others.

5. It is not in the public interest to force a reader to accept the prejudgment of a label characterizing any expression or its author as subversive or dangerous.

The ideal of labeling presupposes the existence of individuals or groups with wisdom to determine by authority what is good or bad for others. It presupposes that individuals must be directed in making up their minds about the ideas they examine. But Americans do not need others to do their thinking for them.

6. It is the responsibility of publishers and librarians, as guardians of the people's freedom to read, to contest encroachments upon that freedom by individuals or groups seeking to impose their own standards or tastes upon the community at large; and by the government whenever it seeks to reduce or deny public access to public information.

It is inevitable in the give and take of the democratic process that the political, the moral, or the aesthetic concepts of an individual or group will occasionally collide with those of another individual or group. In a free society individuals are free to determine for themselves what they wish to read, and each group is free to determine what it will recommend to its freely associated members. But no group has the right to take the law into its own hands, and to impose its own concept of politics or morality upon other members of a democratic society. Freedom is no freedom if it is accorded only to the accepted and the inoffensive. Further, democratic societies are more safe, free, and creative when the free flow of public information is not restricted by governmental prerogative or self-censorship.

7. It is the responsibility of publishers and librarians to give full meaning to the freedom to read by providing books that enrich the quality and diversity of thought and expression. By the exercise of this affirmative responsibility, they can demonstrate that the answer to a "bad" book is a good one, the answer to a "bad" idea is a good one.

The freedom to read is of little consequence when the reader cannot obtain matter fit for that reader's purpose. What is needed is not only the absence of restraint, but the positive provision of opportunity for the people to read the best that has been thought and said. Books are the major channel by which the intellectual inheritance is handed down, and the principal means of its testing and growth. The defense of the freedom to read requires of all publishers and librarians the utmost of their faculties, and deserves of all Americans the fullest of their support.

We state these propositions neither lightly nor as easy generalizations. We here stake out a lofty claim for the value of the written word. We do so because we believe that it is possessed of enormous variety and usefulness, worthy of cherishing and keeping free. We realize that the application of these propositions may mean the dissemination of ideas and manners of expression that are repugnant to many persons. We do not state these propositions in the comfortable belief that what people read is unimportant. We believe rather that what people read is deeply important; that ideas can be dangerous; but that the suppression of ideas is fatal to a democratic society. Freedom itself is a dangerous way of life, but it is ours.

This statement was originally issued in May of 1953 by the Westchester Conference of the American Library Association and the American Book Publishers Council, which in 1970 consolidated with the American Educational Publishers Institute to become the Association of American Publishers. Adopted June 25, 1953, by the ALA Council and the AAP Freedom to Read Committee; amended January 28, 1972; January 16, 1991; July 12, 2000; June 30, 2004.

The Freedom to View

The FREEDOM TO VIEW, along with the freedom to speak, to hear, and to read, is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. In a free society, there is no place for censorship of any medium of expression. Therefore these principles are affirmed:

To provide the broadest access to film, video, and other audiovisual materials because they are a means for the communication of ideas. Liberty of circulation is essential to insure the constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression.
To protect the confidentiality of all individuals and institutions using film, video, and other audiovisual materials.
To provide film, video, and other audiovisual materials which represent a diversity of views and expression. Selection of a work does not constitute or imply agreement with or approval of the content.
To provide a diversity of viewpoints without the constraint of labeling or prejudging film, video, or other audiovisual materials on the basis of the moral, religious, or political beliefs of the producer or filmmaker or on the basis of controversial content.
To contest vigorously, by all lawful means, every encroachment upon the public's freedom to view.

This statement was originally drafted by the Freedom to View Committee of the American Film and Video Association Board of Directors in February 1979. This statement was updated and approved by the AFVA Board of Directors in 1989. Endorsed January 10, 1990, by the ALA Council.

Approved by RHCL Board of Trustees on August 23, 2011.  Back to Top
1.14 Libraries: An American Value
RHCL endorses the American Library Association’s “Libraries: An American Value” statement for libraries and library patrons.

Libraries: An American Value

Libraries in America are cornerstones of the communities they serve. Free access to the books, ideas, resources, and information in America’s libraries is imperative for education, employment, enjoyment, and self-government.

Libraries are a legacy to each generation, offering the heritage of the past and the promise of the future. To ensure that libraries flourish and have the freedom to promote and protect the public good in the 21st century, we believe certain principles must be guaranteed.

To that end, we affirm this contract with the people we serve:

• We defend the constitutional rights of all individuals, including children and teenagers, to use the library’s resources and services;

• We value our nation’s diversity and strive to reflect that diversity by providing a full spectrum of resources and services to the communities we serve;

• We affirm the responsibility and the right of all parents and guardians to guide their own children’s use of the library and its resources and services;

• We connect people and ideas by helping each person select from and effectively use the library’s resources;

• We protect each individual’s privacy and confidentiality in the use of library resources and services;

• We protect the rights of individuals to express their opinions about library resources and services;

• We celebrate and preserve our democratic society by making available the widest possible range of viewpoints, opinions and ideas, so that all individuals have the opportunity to become lifelong learners—informed, literate, educated, and culturally enriched.

Change is constant, but these principles transcend change and endure in a dynamic technological, social, and political environment.

By embracing these principles, libraries in the United States can contribute to a future that values and protects freedom of speech in a world that celebrates both our similarities and our differences, respects individuals and their beliefs, and holds all persons truly equal and free.

Adopted by the Council of the American Library Association, February 3, 1999.

Approved by RHCL Board of Trustees on September 22, 2015.  Back to Top
1.15 Intellectual Freedom
RHCL endorses the basic premise of intellectual freedom as a guiding principle of the work we do in public libraries.

Intellectual Freedom is the right of every individual to both seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction. It provides for free access to all expressions of ideas through which any and all sides of a question, cause, or movement may be explored. Intellectual freedom is the basis for our democratic system. We expect our people to be self-governors. But to do so responsibly, our citizenry must be well-informed. Libraries provide the ideas and information, in a variety of formats, to allow people to inform themselves. Intellectual freedom encompasses the freedom to hold, receive, and disseminate ideas.

American Library Association, “Intellectual Freedom and Censorship Q&A” from ALA website, December 7, 2003.

Approved by RHCL Board of Trustees on September 22, 2015.  Back to Top
1.16 Customer Service
The Rolling Hills Consolidated Library exists for its community. Delivering excellent, high quality, user-centered service is the library’s top priority. Every employee plays an important role in creating a welcoming environment and ensuring that all interactions with patrons are helpful and productive. Not every staff member has personal contact with library users, but every position in some way lends support in developing and offering the best possible array of resources and services to the community. Everyone will be treated with dignity and respect as staff look for the best available strategy or solution for meeting user needs.

RHCL Customer Service Principles

1. Staff are welcoming and professional.

2. Staff are knowledgeable about their work and attentive to it.

3. Staff will listen carefully to understand.

4. Staff will regard all questions and requests as valid.

5. Staff will honor differences and diversity.

6. Staff will support each other in providing service.

7. Staff will eliminate unnecessary barriers to service.

8. Staff will resolve mistakes and problems without blame.

9. Staff will take responsibility for follow through.

10. Staff will foster an environment for teaching and learning.

Staff are welcoming and professional.

By being poised and ready to interact with users, establishing initial eye contact, and greeting people with an open facial expression and body language, staff conveys readiness and willingness to provide service. By concentrating on the interaction and genuinely caring about others, staff demonstrate that they hold other human beings in high regard.

Staff are knowledgeable about their work and attentive to it.

Service is affected by how much staff members know about the workings of library departments and the library as a whole. All staff are expected to know where collections are located, how call numbers work, how to use the catalog, and what services the library offers. Staff will be committed to their individual professional development and life-long learning

Staff will listen carefully to understand.

Careful listening is an essential component of effective communication and problem-solving. Staff will ask questions and restate what has been heard to have a better chance of getting to the specific meaning of a person’s communication.

Staff will regard all questions and requests as valid.

Libraries ensure free speech, individual enrichment, learning and expansion of knowledge. Library users should feel comfortable asking any question. While the library will not always be able to fulfill every question or need, staff should not in any way judge the worthiness of a question or its subject matter. When necessary, staff should explain limitations of staffing or resources that make it impossible to completely satisfy a user’s need.

Staff will honor differences and diversity.

Differences in culture, lifestyle, religion, experience, educational level, and learning style will not become barriers. All staff shall set aside personal biases and prejudices to work effectively with users and with each other. The key is to skillfully negotiate what the user needs and to translate that need into providing the appropriate library response.

Staff will support each other in providing service.

Meeting users’ needs happens through all staff working together, including accurate and efficient technical processing, shelving on a routine basis, and responding to specific requests at public service desks. The staff will customize actions to meet individual circumstances and consult with colleagues on the most effective way to meet the user’s request.

Staff will eliminate unnecessary barriers to service.

Everyone should constructively challenge procedures, policies, and other barriers to information access, services, and use of the facilities. When limitations are necessary, they should be explained with kindness and understanding.

Staff will resolve mistakes and problems without blame.

Because of the library’s complexity there may be varied problems that exist when there is a difference between the way things are and the way someone wants them to be. By gathering information about the problem and analyzing it, positive steps can be taken to resolve mistakes and problems and avoid repetition in the future.

Staff will take responsibility for follow through.

Staff may ensure that library users have a successful experience by asking them if they received the information or assistance they needed. Staff will not refer users to another unit or service point without being certain that they are able to provide the proper solution to the patron’s need.

Staff will foster an environment for teaching and learning.

The library’s goal is for the public to become effective and empowered library users who recognize libraries as resources to support lifelong learning and literacy.

The Rolling Hills Consolidated Library Board of trustees expects that library administration will support these principles through:

  • Hiring effective staff,
  • Creating a welcoming and pleasing environment,
  • Serving as good examples of these policies, and
  • Offering continuing education training and workshops sponsored for staff.

Adapted from the Customer Service Policy of the Trenton Free Public Library (NJ), 2005.

Approved by RHCL Board of Trustees on September 22, 2015.  Back to Top