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Roles and responsibilities for a library board of trustees

September 19, 2019
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Professional assessing the roles and responsibilities of a library board of trustees.

Library boards of trustees are strong, influential advocates for libraries and the communities they serve. It is because of the direction, determination, and hard work of these trustees that libraries have evolved to meet the needs of the public.

Typically, the library board of trustees responsibilities include establishing the mission and vision for the library, determining the policies that are implemented to govern the library, hiring and evaluating the director of the library, and overseeing the general management of the library. These duties help to ensure that the local community is represented well and the public is informed regarding their local library.

Library board of trustees responsibilities include a duty to deliver the best possible library services for the local community. Library boards should have a great interest in the library and the community, and how the library can meet certain needs of the community.

Having knowledge of the climate of the community and certain sub-cultures within the local public can help the library board of trustees assess what needs may need to be met through library services. Serving as representatives and supporters of the communities is a key role for library board of trustee members.

Keep in mind, these library board of trustees responsibilities can vary with every state, and even every library system. For specific roles and responsibilities regarding the role your library board of trustees has, contact your local library.

Library Board of Trustees Responsibilities:

  1. Be an advocate for the library and the community it serves. Major library board of trustees responsibilities include serving as an advocate for the library within the community, and also to advocate for the community as a representative of the library board. To serve as an advocate of the library is to work for the improvement of the library services offered for the community. Advocacy includes working on obtaining the required funds for the library, finding ways to work with the community and connect with public groups, and making sure that the needs and interests of the community are at the forefront of making board decisions.
  2. Establish a mission and vision for the future of the library. Planning is paramount to the survival of libraries, especially with ever-changing aspects of library services for the community. Planning is crucial to what will evolve with certain library services for the public. Library board of trustees responsibilities include being cognizant of the future of the library and shaping it to be responsive to any community needs. Establishing a mission and vision for the library, essential library board of trustees responsibilities, are foundational to planning for the future of the library and its services.
  3. Observe and evaluate the effectiveness of the library. Library board members serve as representatives for the interests and needs of the community regarding the services provided by the library. The library board is entrusted by the community to make sure that the library is functioning the way it should. Library board of trustees responsibilities include continuously examining and assessing the effectiveness and efficiency of the library and its services. Assessing the effectiveness and efficiency of the library assists the library board in knowing what areas of growth exist for the library.
  4. Establish and implement policies for the library. Library board trustee responsibilities also include spending time on policy issues; developing and implementing policies and monitoring the effectiveness of those policies. Once policies are adopted and implemented by the board, the library staff then perform and carry out these policies on a daily basis.
  5. Hire and assess the director of the library. Hiring a qualified and capable individual to serve as director is a vital responsibility for the library board. The director of the library is tasked with managing the daily processes and operations of the library. The board of trustees should also regularly evaluate the director to be sure that the library is operating well, and that the best interests of the library and the community it serves are being addressed.

Using Technology to Streamline Library Board of Trustees Responsibilities

Library board members carry a burden to serve as representatives, advocates, and supporters. Not only for the library as an institution, but also for the community in ensuring that the public is receiving services that are needed through the library. These responsibilities come with pressure and a great time commitment for board members and administrators.

Utilizing the right technology, library board trustees can be empowered in their roles through the simple, continuous access to important information, support of board member training and education, tracking of goal progress, and maintenance of board meeting materials. Having a seamless, simplified, streamlined process for library board members to access and maintain pertinent information positively impacts the work the board accomplishes for the library and the community.

Library board management software allows the library board of trustees to create and share meeting agendas, meeting minutes, goal-tracking software, evaluation features, and library policies and procedures. With the right technology, library board of trustees responsibilities can be simplified and streamlined.

Meeting information (agendas, documents, minutes, and other related materials), can be shared with the library board members and the public, promoting meeting preparation and transparency. Establishing and tracking goal progress is essential to evaluating progress being made by the library and the effectiveness of the library.

With the right board management software, library boards of trustees can have board training materials, policies, and procedures all available for continuous access within the system. Easy access to this information allows for board members to always be informed, which can lead to solid, effective, and efficient decision making.

Leveraging the right technology can save library boards time, money, and energy – all of which can be wasted on accomplishing tasks that are imperative to board function, but could be simplified through board management software. Library board meeting management tools can be a seamless resource to be utilized by the board to maintain the focus on the library’s goals and vision.


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