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Trustee Support Resources

You have a library district--Now what do you do?

Your proposal to create a new library district has been approved by the voters.  Now the real work begins:

  1. Certify the new district to the county and the Washington State Department of Revenue by August 1 if the district boundaries have changed; or October 1 if it has the same boundaries. See also RCW 84.09.030WAC 458-12-140.
    • How: The county assessor sends a letter certifying the new boundaries, with a copy of the voter-approved ballot resolution to the Department of Revenue, Property Tax Division.
    • Why: To be able to collect taxes in the next succeeding year.
  2. Library board members appointed.
    • How: Varies, depending on type of library. 
    • Questions to ask when selecting trustees:
      • Are they library users who understand not only what the library offers, but that it offers essential services besides books?
      • Are they involved in activities that are beneficial to the community?
      • Do they have the time to attend the required number of meetings specified in the Library Bylaws?
      • Are they a team player?
      • Are they comfortable advocating for the Library, either on a one to one basis or in front of groups?
      • Are they willing to attend continuing education events to increase their knowledge about current library trends?
      • Additional guidance on what to look for in trustee candidates: Kentucky State Library: recruitment & selection of trustees
    • Why: After the new library district is established, the library board should meet as soon as possible to:
      • Write and adopt bylaws to guide the work of the library board;
      • Elect officers;
      • Set up a regular schedule for board meetings;
      • Read and review duties and responsibilities set out in the Trustee Wiki of the Washington State Library;
      • Plan for library services, including the hiring of a library director;
      • Determine how to fund services for the first year of library operations and develop a preliminary budget.
  3. Determine interim funding sources.
    • How: Included as part of the library board's budget planning. New districts may choose to use a combination of the following options:
      • Obtaining a line of credit from a bank;
      • Raising funds from the local community;
      • Delaying significant cost-incurring activities until funds are available;
      • Obtaining funds from a local or regional foundation or other philanthropic organization.
    • Why: To cover the expenses of the library district between the time the district is certified and the time when the first property taxes are received.
  4. Select an approach to providing library services.
    • How: Depending on the size of the district, the geographic location, and the type of library, several options are available, including:
      • Contracting with an existing local city library;
      • Contracting with another district library;
      • Establishing library service from the ground up.
    • Why: To ensure a cost-effective and locally appropriate approach to meet the needs of the district.
  5. Determine what the process will be to create the plan for providing library services.
    • How: Based on funds available, the governance structure, the needs of the area, and the availability of personnel, alternatives for assistance in developing library services could include:
      • Hiring a new library director to help the board plan and set up the services;
      • Contracting with a local or regional librarian or library director to assist part-time in the initial planning;
      • Hiring an independent library consultant or several consultants, depending on their subject specialties, to assist in the initial planning;
      • Asking a local planner or library board member to assist in the initial planning process.
      Note:  New districts will probably want to use a combination of the above options in their planning process.
    • Why: To ensure a cost-effective and locally appropriate approach to meet the needs of the district.
  6. Prepare a preliminary budget.
    • How: The library board prepares a preliminary budget which should include adequate funds for:
      • Staff salaries and benefits;
      • Contracts for library services;
      • Facilities maintenance;
      • Collections - both print and electronic;
      • Technology - both hardware and software;
      • Telecommunications;
      • Utilities.
    • Why: Ensure sufficient funds to provide effective library service.
  7. Set a tax levy rate.
    • How: The library board must adopt a property tax levy rate and submit it to the county legislative body;
      • Most new districts select to set the initial rate at, or very close to, the maximum amount allowed by law. If the board chooses a lower rate, it should have carefully analyzed the amount of money needed to provide effective library services to its residents.
    • Why: The tax levy rate will insure the district has sufficient funds to provide effective library service. If the tax rate is set too low initially, the new district may not be able to meet the needs and expectations of the voters of the new district, nor can it expand to meet the future needs of new residents. Once the rate is set, it cannot be raised without a vote of the people.
  8. Adopt an official budget.
    • How: Official budget is adopted at a public meeting.
    • Why: Funding for library services is approved by the public.
  9. Determine timing for receipt of property taxes.
    • How: The board needs to take into account:
      • The date the boundaries are set for the district;
      • When the tax levy is approved;
      • Method in which the county treasurer transfers funds realized from taxes to the taxing districts.
      Note: Some counties transfer property taxes daily rather than pay interest to the districts for the time the revenues are held prior to distribution.