Board Governance Model

Working as a board of five, the responsibilities of trustees can be divided into four general categories:

  • Policy Development
  • Finance
  • Personnel
  • Community & Public Relations

The duties and responsibilities of the library board and the library director may appear to overlap. Understanding the differences in function assures teamwork and better library service. 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. Policy determination and management are different roles:

  • Policy determination relies heavily on the board's participation and knowledge.
  • Management is the responsibility of the person hired by the library board to administer, direct, or run the library.

Cooperation is the key.

See the chart below for an illustration of this concept. At the Leadership level, boards and directors are in partnership to answer the question, “Where are we going and why?” At the Management and Task levels, the activities of the board and the director and staff are separated by a firewall. The board has their duties and the director and staff have their duties. If the board finds themselves discussing what type of printer the library should buy, they may be crossing the firewall. The chart was created by Pat Wagner of Pattern Research, Inc. and used with permission.

Board, Leadership and Staff Roles The Board Governance Model

The Board The Library
Board Leadership

Risk and the Future
Politics and Influence
Mission and Vision
Strategic planning: + two years
Where are we going and why?
Partner with library director

Director

Risk and the Future
Politics and Influence
Mission and Vision
Strategic planning: + two years
Where are we going and why?
Partner with board

Board Management

Budget approval
Director hiring and evaluation
Policy approval
Committees and meetings
Community relations
Board projects and by-laws
Board goals and strategies

Admin/Staff Management

Coach and evaluate staff
Organize department
Plan and evaluate projects
Create budgets and policies
Listen to staff and community
Communicate and translate
Library goals and strategies

Tasks

Active meeting attendance
Minutes and legal details
Sign checks (as appropriate)
Recruitment and training
Research and assignments
How the board runs itself

Tasks (Examples)

Cataloging, Janitorial,
YA programs, Tech services,
Shelving, Reference,
Literacy, Bookmobile,
Children’s Department, Web services
How the library runs

Remember Your Community!

From: Pat Wagner, Pattern Research, Inc. 303-778-0880; pat@pattern.com