Skip to Main Content

Trustee Support Resources

Library Boards

  • Represent the community to the library;
  • Advocate for the library:
    • To the community at large;
    • To elected officials.
  • Work with library administration in planning and setting goals;
  • Develop and implement policies that govern library services;
  • "Adopt such bylaws, rules, and regulations for their own guidance and for the government of the library." RCW 27.12.210(1)
    • Bylaws should clearly describe the:
      • Purpose of the board of trustees;
      • Officers of the board, election method, their authority, duties, and term of office;
      • Role of the library director in support of the board;
      • Requirements for board members to remain in good standing, such as attendance at regular and special meetings;
      • Cause and process for removal from board membership;
      • Quorum required for a meeting;
      • Procedural rules for conducting meetings, such as Robert's Rules of Order;
      • Requirements of the state open public meetings laws in relation to study sessions, special meetings, executive sessions, notice to the public, etc.;
      • Requirements that implement state public records laws for access to board minutes, policies, planning documents, and other materials;
      • Standing committees, their duties, and membership;
      • Provisions for special committees or task forces that may include members in addition to the board;
      • Regular meeting pattern (e.g., the first Friday of each month);
      • Annual timetable for required activities, reports, reviewing bylaws, library policies, etc.;
      • Process for amending bylaws.

Roles and Authority of Governing and Advisory Boards

Advisory boards in annexed or contracting cities represent their community and its perspectives to the larger library system, providing essential input and assistance in order to assure that services and programs are useful to their community.

Members should be ready to:

  • Assist in long range and annual planning
  • Initiate and participate in strategic planning for the library
  • Serve on library committees
  • Recommend and to advocate for budgets and policies that support the community library.
  • Assist the library director in policy-level decision-making, in appropriate areas.

Board members are library advocates within their community, representing and promoting the library system services and programs as well as the community library services.

Advisory board meetings are open and public input is encouraged.

The Municipal Research and Services Center of Washington (MRSC) provides helpful information for advisory boards in their online publication, Local Government Citizen Advisory Boards.

Area of Responsibility Governing Board Advisory Board Library Director
Library Staffing
  • Approves union contracts;
  • Relationship to director:
    • Hires;
    • Authorized to contract or make other employment agreements with director;
    • Supervises;
    • Evaluates annually;
    • Takes corrective action;
    • Terminates.
  • Refers staff grievances to library director.
  • No role in hiring or overseeing library director. City hires director, who reports directly to city manager or mayor;
  • Depending on the city, advisory board may make recommendations regarding hiring, evaluation, or firing of director;
  • Refers staff grievances to library director.
  • Provides for union negotiations;
  • Relationship to library staff:
    • Hires;
    • Supervises;
    • Evaluates;
    • Takes corrective action;
    • Terminates.
  • Implements city or board personnel policies and procedures;
  • Investigates and resolves staff grievances.
Strategic and Long-Term Planning
  • Evaluates community needs as basis for planning;
  • Adopts plans for establishing goals and priorities for future directions.
  • Assists in long-range and annual planning;
  • Participates in strategic planning for the library;
  • Role may range from adopting plan to recommending plan to mayor or city council for official approval.
  • Presents plans to municipal authorities;
  • Supports adoption of plans.
Budget and Fiscal Management
  • Evaluates and approves budget;
  • Holds public budget hearings and filings;
  • Monitors revenue and expenditures;
  • Works to secure funding.
  • Recommends and advocates for budgets that support the community library;
  • Works to secure funding;
  • Recommends approval of projects and proposals.
  • Follows municipal or board budget directions and procedures;
  • Provides analysis to board and authorities concerning budget;
  • Follows city procedures for proposals, contracts, etc.
Adopt Library Policies
  • Adopts and regularly reviews policies.
  • Recommends and advocates for policies that support the community library;
  • May propose or adopt library-related policies such as:
    • Intellectual freedom
    • Collection development
  • Recommends needed policies to the library board of trustees;
  • Implements city policies and procedures;
  • Depending on city, may directly implement library-related policies, or may present to mayor and council for approval.
Library Services
  • Adopts policies that assure services meet the needs of the community;
  • Supports the role of the library;
  • Encourages extension of library services to all members of the community.
  • Recommends policies that assure services meet the needs of the community;
  • Supports the role of the library;
  • Encourages extension of library services to all members of the community.
  • Implements library services;
  • Manages operation of library programs and services, in accordance with established policies;
  • Evaluates services.
Library Building and Equipment
  • Approves expenditures for:
    • Facilities contracts;
    • Construction or renovation;
    • Major equipment.
  • Provides information on project funding.
  • Recommends projects;
  • Provides information to contractors and the general public.
  • Researches feasibility of projects, gathers information about potential architects, contractors, other resources for board consideration;
  • Implements building plans, purchase and install equipment;
  • Provides for ongoing maintenance.
Collection Development
  • Adopts collection development policy statements that reflect needs of entire community;
  • Advocates for materials budget to support library strategic goals.
  • Adopts collection development policy statements that reflect needs of entire community;
  • Advocates for materials budget to support library strategic goals.
  • Regularly evaluates how effectively collection meets community needs;
  • Provides analysis for selecting and purchasing materials.
Library Advocacy
  • Advocates for library in the community;
  • Addresses local and regional library issues by communicating with elected officials;
  • Participates in annual library legislative day.
  • Advocates for library in the community;
  • Addresses local and regional library issues by communicating with elected officials;
  • Participates in annual library legislative day.
  • Advocates for library in the community;
  • Addresses local and regional library issues by communicating with elected officials;
  • Participates in annual library legislative day (unpaid time).