A Great Democratic Tradition

"I believe that the library is society's most vibrant, democratic and life-affirming institution. It does not attempt to impose its opinions on anyone, but seeks to help people make up their own minds. At its best, it is open to everyone, but it forces itself on no one. Because it neither affirms or rejects any opinion, it gives a voice to the unpopular, the unheard and the brokenhearted, sometimes at great cost to itself. Libraries should never be an afterthought. To have a great community, a great school, or a great college or university, you begin by creating a great library. And to have a great library, you must begin by having great librarians. Every one of us [in this room] has been given the opportunity to make a real difference in people's lives. It is both a wonderful privilege and a tremendous responsibility to be a librarian."     

— Gardner C. Hanks
(Acceptance of Librarian of the Year Award, Idaho Library Association, 2001)

Manual Purpose

This guide is a revision of the Idaho Trustee Manual. It is the purpose of this guide to provide a convenient and reliable information source for current and prospective trustees and library directors on issues concerning public libraries and boards of trustees.


  • To heighten awareness of trustees’ duties and responsibilities
  • To encourage trustees to become better informed
  • To supply information for new and experienced trustees and an introduction to those interested in becoming library trustees

Use of the Manual

The Trustee Manual is intended to be a growing and developing document. The Idaho Commission for Libraries will publish the manual as an online document so it can be easily updated.

The manual will be found in its entirety online at the Idaho Commission for Libraries’ website ( Relevant forms can be found online as well in Word document format for ease of local customization. Also, there are online resources that trustees can access to supplement the manual. See the links to resources throughout the manual.

If there are updates made to the handbook, notification will be sent out on the Idaho library listserv, LibIdaho. The notification will include the link to the online document.

Tip: To sign up for LibIdaho, please see for instructions to begin receiving information about Idaho libraries to your e-mail.

This guide is a starting place to answer your questions and increase your knowledge. For more information, please contact the Idaho Commission for Libraries’ Library Consultant in your area:

Eastern Idaho – Patrick Bodily –
Toll free in Idaho – 800-548-6212

Northern Idaho
Toll free in Idaho – 866-212-0646

Southwestern Idaho
– Kevin Tomlinson -
Toll free in Idaho – 800-458-3271

Next: Boardmanship