This brief overview highlights basic information regarding library boards and the director and board relationship. For extensive details, sample documents and tools on library board governance, see the
Kentucky Public Library Trustee Manual (PDF) and the
Kentucky Public Library Trustees page on the KDLA Website. KDLA also encourages trustees to watch the five videos offered in our
Trustee Certification Program which cover trustee and director roles, library board meetings, governance, fiscal responsibility and Library Boards strategic planning and advocacy.
Most of the public libraries in Kentucky have a board composed of five members. Boards that best represent the community may be diverse, include citizens from different parts of the county and include representatives who will reflect a variety of community perspectives and interests.
Library board members are appointed to a four-year term. Trustees may serve for two consecutive terms after which they may not succeed themselves. They may be reappointed no earlier than twelve months following the end of their last service. Board members with an expiring term continue to hold their office until their successors are appointed and have taken the oath of office.
The board’s main responsibilities are to:
- Establish policy
- Hire a director and delegate the management of the library and all staff to that person
- Monitor and evaluate the director’s performance
- Plan for the future and ensure progress toward the library’s mission
- Monitor and evaluate finances and library services
- Evaluate board performance to ensure that the board is acting in accordance with law, by-laws, and in an open and transparent environment and
- Advocate for the library and in legislative issues that impact library matters and services
The library board provides oversight and governance of the library while the director manages day-to-day operations. Authority for management of the library will be from the board of trustees to the director who then delegates to other personnel. Among other duties, the director has responsibility for policy interpretation and issuance of procedural directives.
Best practices for the director’s relationship with the board include:
- The director is accountable to the board and should have latitude to exercise independent judgement in executing board policy. Effective management of the library can exist only through mutual understanding and cooperation between the director and the board
- The director should give the board full and timely information concerning pertinent matters that relate to the management of the library, usually at the library’s monthly board meeting
- The director manages the day-to-day finances within the guidelines and budget set by board.
- The director is responsible for overseeing the hiring of personnel within the limitations of board policy and the budget. The director determines the appropriate compensation, training, supervision, discipline, and termination as necessary. Board members should refrain from discussing management and personnel issues with staff other than the director, except as outlined in the employee grievance procedure. The board, in consultation with the director, may confer with key personnel at regular or special meetings of the board.
- The board should evaluate the director annually to give feedback on performance, noting any areas for improvement, and to provide a basis for consideration of the director’s compensation.