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Trustee Support Resources

What Library Boards Should Not Do

The board is charged with establishing policy and long-term plans for the direction of the library. The board hires the library director and delegates to the director the responsibility for managing the library and all of its daily operations. The director implements the policies and direction set by the board. Although planning, policy-making, and management are obviously interrelated, the following caveats should be kept in mind:

  • Boards should not run their libraries; they should see that they are run properly;
  • Boards should not attempt to manage their libraries; they must see that the libraries are managed properly. Micromanaging is always a temptation that board members must avoid;
  • Individual board members have no legal authority over the library. Their authority is derived as a member of the board during official meetings or as an authorized representative of the board;
  • Boards should not demean library staff in public;
  • Boards should not disregard without consideration suggestions or advice from the library director;
  • Boards are not the communication link between:
    • The staff and the director;
    • The community and the staff;
    • If a municipal library, the city government and the library.
    These are the responsibility of the library director.
  • The relationship between the board and the library director is not a competition. The board should not try to dominate the director; the director should not try to dominate the board. Neither should try to undermine the other by discussing problems with members of the public or library behind each other's back. Both parties need to remember their ultimate purpose - to serve the needs of their community;