We like to think of the public library as the "free library," but no library is free. The money needed for buying materials, paying salaries, maintaining facilities, continuing technology upgrades, participating in statewide resource sharing efforts, paying the phone bill, and much more must come from somewhere. One of the most important board functions, therefore, is to systematically budget, raise, and account for their library's funds. 
See Budgeting


Once a budget has been accepted, it is the board's responsibility to ensure that adequate income to fund the budget is available. In the case of levied funds, this means monitoring income derived from taxes and discussing any discrepancies between the levied amount and the collected amount with the appropriate city or county officials.

If the board has established a budget with the assumption that non-tax revenue will be available, it is responsible for developing a program to gain these funds. In some cases, this may mean designing a sophisticated fund-raising program; in other cases it may mean participating in less formal money-raising activities.

While public libraries in Idaho are funded primarily at the local level, it is important for board members to realize that public funding for library services provided by the state and federal governments can also have important direct and indirect impacts on the local library's services. Local board members can have a vital role in the legislative process. So another important function of board members is to represent their library's interest as these issues are raised.

Idaho law gives the library board exclusive control of the library's expenditures. See Roles & Responsibilities. This is not only a right; it is a responsibility. While the board should delegate to the staff the power to make purchases of library materials, supplies, and other necessary goods and services, it should be aware of all purchases and should monitor the budget throughout the year.

In order to do this, the board should establish bookkeeping systems that includes the following features:

  1. A monthly listing of all bills to be paid. Bills should not be paid until approved by the board. It is best if the full board approves all bills before payment. This necessitates that the board meet monthly.
  2. A monthly statement that shows:
    • The income for the month by income sources, along with total monthly income
    • The cumulative income for the year by income source along with total yearly income
    • A list of library accounts, including checking and savings accounts, certificates of deposits, etc., with the amounts of money contained in each and their annual rates of interest
    • Cash on hand
    • The expenditures for the month by budget expenditure category along with total monthly expenditures
    • The cumulative expenditures for the year by budget expenditure category along with total expenditures for the year
  3. A procedure to have the library's financial records independently audited or reviewed as required by state and federal law (See IC 67-450B


Board of Trustees Library Director
Be completely informed about the financial status of the library. Provide regular reports of budget status and expenditures at each board meeting.
Work with the library director to formulate a budget adequate to carry out the library’s goals and objectives, within any limitations of state law. Prepare a suggested annual budget in consultation with staff and board. Supply facts and figures to the board to aid in interpreting the library’s current and future financial needs.
Present the budget to the funding agency, public officials, and the general public; explain and defend it. Follow the budget process as it moves through the funding process. Work with the board in interpreting budget and financial needs of the library to public officials and the public. Provide leadership in supporting the budget.
Work to secure adequate funds for staff and services. Identify financial needs of the library and work with the board and staff for adequate funding.
Explore all ways of increasing the library’s income, tapping other sources and taking advantage of all available means of cooperation with other libraries. Call the board’s attention to ways of stretching the budget. Assist the board in cooperating with other libraries.
  See that complete and accurate records concerning finances, personnel, property inventory, and annual reports are on file at the library.
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