University of Wisconsin–Madison

Policy Library Information Session Highlights Library Features, Policy Roles, and Best Practices

On Wednesday, May 12, the Office of Strategic Consulting hosted the first of two virtual Policy Library Information Sessions to discuss the new UW–Madison Policy Library that went live in January. (There will be a second session on Thursday, May 20, for those who were unable to attend the first one.)

Those with policy roles on campus (responsible offices, policy managers, policy contacts, and those designated as having approval authority for policy) received an invitation to attend one of the sessions, as did campus communicators who may have a role in publishing policy content on websites, in knowledgebases (KBs), or elsewhere. Invitees were also encouraged to forward the invitation to anyone else who may benefit from the information. (Shared governance has been engaged throughout the development of the policy library and continues to have a critical role in policy development.)

Information shared in the session focused on what the policy library is and what it means for those with different policy roles and responsibilities. It also highlighted the importance of—and best practices for—maintaining the integrity of the policy library as the central, up-to-date resource for all university-wide policies at UW–Madison. Maintaining the integrity of the policy library will require the cooperation of everyone on campus, especially those involved in policy development, management, or publication. Moving forward, any university-wide policy that is not in the library will not be considered official policy.

What’s in the Policy Library

The policy library contains nearly all of UW–Madison’s university-wide policies (a few policies are still being cleaned up and are not yet public-facing). A university-wide policy applies generally to all members of the UW–Madison community, including faculty, staff, students, users, and visitors, regardless of where the policy originated. The current inventory of university-wide policies in the library is 830, with the largest percentage of those (35 percent) belonging to Finance and Administration and the next highest percentage (19 percent) to Academic Affairs.

In addition to UW–Madison’s university-wide policies, the policy library also includes:

  • Links to other related documents that are not policy (such as procedures, higher-order policies that mandate a university policy, or interpretive/guidance documents).
  • Links to entire sets of higher-order policies that govern UW–Madison students, staff, and faculty (but that are not UW–Madison policies). Examples include Wisconsin State statute, UW System policy, and Board of Regents policies.
  • Guidance, resources, and tools for policy development. These are all available on the Policy Development page of the policy library website.

Policy Development Tools

Included among the policy development tools are:

  • Guidelines for Policy Development at UW–Madison. These guidelines were created by a separate working group that included representation from across campus, including shared governance. For the most part, they capture at a high level the university’s existing policy development practices. The only addition is a step at the end for an approved new or revised policy to be given to the policy library coordinator for publication in the library.
  • Policy Template (and Instructions). All policies in the policy library follow a standard template, with common terms and definitions, including a few key roles and responsibilities (noted previously). The fields in the policy template align with the fields in the online policy library. The template should be used when developing new policy. For revisions to existing policy, users should save a PDF of the most current version of the policy from the library, convert it to Word, and use track changes to make revisions before sending it to the policy library coordinator at
  • Best Practices for Publishing Policy. Any policy that is not included in the policy library cannot be considered an official university-wide policy. To prevent us from having different versions of a given policy in multiple locations (which was the state of things before the creation of the policy library), units are asked not to copy and paste all or part of a policy from the policy library to a web page, KB, or other document, or to provide only the summary of a policy without making it clear that it is not the full policy and without referring and linking to the full policy in the library.

To ensure that policy content on a website, in a KB, or elsewhere remains current, there are three options for publishing it:

  1. List the policy number and title (only), with a direct hyperlink to the policy in the policy library.
  2. List the policy number and title, with the direct hyperlink—plus a brief description of the policy, making it clear that “This is a summary of the [policy name] policy. View the official policy [link] in its entirety in the UW–Madison Policy Library.”
  3. Use the available API (Application Programming Interface) to display policy library content in real-time. This option pulls content directly from the policy library to populate a page. Contact for more information on this option.

These and other best practices are highlighted in the Best Practices for Publishing Policy document linked on the Policy Development page.

Learn More

Anyone with a role in policy development or publishing who didn’t make it to the first Policy Library Information Session is encouraged to join the second session at 3 p.m. on Thursday, May 20. Login information is below.

Policy Library Information Session, May 20, 3 p.m.
Zoom Meeting Link: Click here to join
Meeting ID: 927 4214 0900
Passcode: 102964

A session recording will also be made available on the Policy Development page of the policy library website after May 20.

If you have questions about the sessions or the policy library, email