Media Center Guidelines

Alpine School District
MODULE I: Elementary Media Training

Lesson 1 -- Media Center Procedures and Guidelines

Learner Objectives

Upon completing this lesson, you should be able to:

Reading Assignment

  1. "Use of School Property and Facilities" ASD Policy 1330. (Alpine District Media HomePage: Guidelines)
  2. Sample Procedures and Guidelines. (Reading) ASD Policy "Internet Use" ASD Policy 5225,
    "Copyright Laws" ASD Policy 6164, "Copyright Laws" ASD Policy 6165.
  3. Operating and Evaluating School Library Media Programs, Yesner and Jay, p. 120-122, 158-161. [025.1 YES] ASD Collection
  4. Running A School Media Center, second edition, 2002, Stein, Barbara L. and Risa W. Brown,
    p. 13-17 [At the school]
  5. Schjelderup, Bill. Alexandria Professional Library Management User's Manual, Policies and Preferences section. (On-line and/or printed manual) [At the school]

Overview -- Appropriate procedures and guidelines can help create an effective school media center program which supports the central educational mission of the school. Nothing can break the reputation, climate, and public relations of your media center faster than impulsive, overly restrictive, partially followed procedures that make access to materials and facilities difficult. Yet nothing can ruin the condition of the same materials and facilities more quickly than a lack of procedures and use guidelines. The purpose of this lesson is to help you find a balance between these two extremes that allows you to support the central educational mission of the school. After all, we are in the business of educating children.

District Guidelines-- Alpine School District has policies in place which define the use of school facilities [ASD Policy 1330]. These reflect a philosophy that the community has certain rights to use school properties and facilities. However, there are procedures that must be followed including submitting a request, general regulations, responsibilities, use of equipment and facilities, etc.


In defining District Policy for specific concerns and it's accompanying Rules and Regulations, and Procedures sections, the district is able to clearly communicate to all of the parties involved what is expected when people use school facilities and what appropriate and inappropriate use means. These policies should be known when you are putting together your procedures package so you are not in conflict with district policy. However, procedures for your school media center should not be as lengthy nor as formal and complicated as these "adult" procedures are.

In addition, district policies, generally speaking, do not extend to specific things like book or magazine circulation, but only address building and some equipment usage. Circulation of most materials is usually limited to current school patrons, though it can extend to parents under special circumstances. It can also extend to other students within the district if you choose to participate in interlibrary loans. Only when your procedures are in place will this issue be defined for all patrons at your school. When you have questions, the district media center can advise you about acceptable circulation lengths, fines, hours of operation, and other areas where you may want procedures defined for your school.

Students vs. Faculty and Staff vs. Parents -- Considering that the use of facilities and materials may be different for students, for faculty and staff, and possibly for the general public, they may each need a different set of procedures. Procedures need to be defined for student internet use that follows ASD Policy 5225. Teachers should also follow the copyright guidelines set up in ASD Policies 6164 and 6165. Circulation policies for groups of items and users are easy to set and change from within the Alexandria program. You should also take responsibility to make sure the teachers in your building understand the district media check out, delivery and pick up schedules, and the policies regarding use of district-owned and school-owned equipment.

One must take care that favoritism or discrimination is not shown to any specific group, but that control is still maintained over the facilities and materials. For example, teachers may want to halt circulation of certain items if their classes are planning big projects based on those items' subject matter. However, other students not in those teachers' classes may have interest in that subject, also. You will need to decide whether the teacher's or the individual student's desires come first.

If your administration chooses to rent out school facilities to public groups, the expectation may be that they will also have access to equipment and facilities. There are some guidelines for this in District Policy 1330. It is better to discuss this with your principal and establish a level of understanding here before the situation comes up. This is just one of the many reasons why it is important to gain support from your principal for media center procedures before communicating them to your users.

Procedures For A Positive and Effective Program -- Most people who become involved in administering school media center programs have a talent for organization and order. This is usually a big plus when dealing with things, but it can be a detriment when dealing with people. For example: It is district policy that because Alpine School District Elementary Media Specialists are not required to be certified, that the classroom teacher remain in the Media Center with their students. Making this clear to teachers as part of your policies, following district policy, can eliminate having to be the enforcer. Trying to force too much order on human beings can lead to negative interactions and bad memories that may follow a student all the way through his or her learning career and sabotage attitudes about becoming information literate. It may also cause negative feelings among teachers and result in a definite lack of support for the media center program.

Procedures and guidelines that are punishment-oriented rather than using natural consequences will eventually prove uncomfortable, if not impossible, to inforce. This is not to say discipline should be lax or equipment and materials should be allowed to be abused, but it is also true that modern media centers are rarely places of calm and absolute quiet. We need to be sure the procedures we formulate are positive and enforceable. Also important is to have as few procedures as possible and still maintain order. Finally, make sure your procedures do not reflect any personal favoritism or bias that you may have.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Comparisons -- It is often helpful to see how other schools have formulated and reinforced their procedures and guidelines. It may give you ideas you have never considered and could help establish consistency throughout the district. It will also give you justification and a history if you want to make some changes in your media center procedures and guidelines. You may be able to overcome a problem in seconds that another school took months to work out simply by following their example. However, remember that every personality is unique, and what one person can "get away with" will never work for you. Some people tolerate noise levels differently than others. Some people's idea of order is another's idea of "squeeky clean" or "a total mess." Take caution in simply copying another center's procedures because they sound good; they must also feel good to you before you can enforce them.

The Professional Approach -- You can often get a great deal of help from professional magazines or internet user groups for problems that may have bothered you for some time. Make sure to look into the "Question and Answer" or the "Letters To The Editor" sections of periodicals. These areas are often places you can dig up nuggets you can use in establishing practical procedures for your facility and materials. By the same token, if you have an innovative idea, don't hesitate to share it with your peers. Who knows? You may save someone else loads of aggravation and help to increase their professionalism at the same time. Once a sharing atmosphere is created, you will receive more helpful ideas than you will ever be able to give.

Questions to Consider

As you begin this assignment, think about the following:


  1. Complete the assigned reading.

    Choose either 2 or 3:
  2. Write media center procedures using the readings and discussions you have had with other media people. Complete the accompanying worksheet called Media Center Problems describing how each procedure helps to create a positive and effective media center program. Ask yourself the following questions as you are completing this assignment. Then, discuss your work with your mentor and revise as needed from the discussion.

    -- Can I justify the procedures I am adopting?

    -- How does each procedure help create a positive and effective media center program.?

    -- Have I delt fairly with all types of users?

    --Have I made reference to the Alpine District Policies for internet users, copyright laws or use of the facility?

    -- Do I have too many (or too few) procedures?

    This procedures document will not be totally completed until after module 1, lesson 2 is finished.

  3. Evaluate your existing media center procedures document after completing the assigned reading. Use the accompanying worksheet called Defined Procedures with this assignment. Ask yourself the following questions as you are completing this assignment.

    -- Do I need to add new procedures or remove current ones because of things I learned from the assigned reading?

    -- Do I need separate procedures for different groups of people using the media center?

    -- Do I vary my procedures appropriately according to different users?

    --Have I made reference to the Alpine District Policies for internet users, copyright laws or use of the facility?

    -- Do I have too many (or too few) procedures?

    Discuss the procedudres with your mentor and revise as needed from this discussion. This procedures will not be totally completed until after module 1, lesson 2 is finished.

  4. Locate at least three ideas on media center procedures from professional magazines or other sources (internet etc.). Write a paragraph for each idea describing how you could adapt and/or apply what you have learned to your media center. If you find an idea useable, describe why it could work for you. If you find an idea that is not useable, describe why it would not work for you. If possible, describe means to obtain the same results in a different manner or by another type of rule. If you feel you need to modify your procedures at this point, do so. Include copies of your three sources used in this assignment.

  5. Share your procedures document draft with your media mentor, and discuss ways to implement it in your school. If any changes are recommended please do so at this time and submit a copy of the revised version with this assignment.


Alpine School District, "Use of School Property and Facilities" ASD Policy 1330.

Schjelderup, Bill. Alexandria Professional Library Management User's Manual. Salt Lake City, UT: Companion Corporation, currently held edition.

Stein, Barbara L. and Risa W. Brown. Running a School Library Media Center. New York, NY: Neal-Schuman, 1992.

Yesner, Bernice L. and Hilda L. Jay. Operating and Evaluating School Library Media Programs. New York, NY: Neal-Schuman, 1998.