Survival Guide for Idaho Library Directors

A quick-start, ready-reference source for the accidental public library director in Idaho

If you are reading this for the first time,

you just might be a brand new library director or school librarian. On day one, you may have looked around and wondered just what you had signed up for. For what once looked like a nice, quiet place where people sat around and read was suddenly replaced by the reality of library work: a maze of paper, policies, procedures, and politics.

This Survival Guide has been designed to provide the unexpected library director with professionally-curated resources that lead to success and to identify tutorials and expert advice on specific topics, duties, and tasks involved in running a public library, including:

  • planning,
  • policy development, and
  • resources to help illuminate the new director’s path to enlightenment.

Over time, you will also become aware of what you do not know about running a library, which will help you know what questions to ask the friendly consultants at the Idaho Commission for Libraries (ICfL). If you have questions that you cannot answer, or if you are just feeling a little lost, please do not hesitate to contact the ICfL.

Contact information for your ICfL Public Library Consultant is provided below. Contact information for the entire ICfL staff is available here.

The links in the right-hand column will take you to printable documents that you can download, print, and place in your Transition Notebook. Each of the documents shows the most recent revision date, so you’ll want to make sure that you have the most recent version.

If you are in doubt about how to get started in your new role, please follow the steps listed below, and then let us know how we can assist you!

Step 1: Locate Your Library’s Transition Notebook

If your library director were to depart or become incapacitated with little or no warning, how would the new (or interim) director learn to run the library? You never know what might happen tomorrow, so it is critical to the library’s continued well-being to leave a Transition Notebook. When the library’s director moves on, or when the unforeseen happens, the library’s staff and board will need this information as well.

If your library does not have a Transition Notebook, right now is the perfect time to start one for your library. Just fill it in as you learn! Please follow the link to learn more.

Step 2: Contact Your ICfL Public Library Consultant

The ICfL staff includes a Public Library Consultant who can answer your questions concerning library development, operations, and support, including library law, open meetings law, trustee issues and orientation, policy formation, best practices for public libraries, strategic planning, succession planning, and library district formation. If we are busy assisting another library when you call, please leave a voicemail message and we will get back to you ASAP!

Clay Ritter, Public Library Consultant
208-639-4177 local or 800-458-3271 toll-free

Step 3: Subscribe to LibIdaho

The Idaho Commission for Libraries (ICfL) often shares information via LibIdaho, so you will want to subscribe to this discussion list as soon as you can.

LibIdaho is intended for people interested in all aspects of libraries and librarianship in Idaho. Membership is not limited to librarians, Idaho residents, or ILA members, but the list will probably be of greatest interest and value to those who are working in libraries in Idaho. LibIdaho is provided free of charge by the Idaho Library Association (ILA), which welcomes respectful discussion of professional issues. You can learn more about LibIdaho here.

Resources for Learning about Public Library Operations and Management

Remember: Nobody expects you to learn everything all at once! You can refer back to this evergreen advice as often as you need to.

I. Governance and Administration

Boardsmanship: Or, Who Does What?

Budgeting and Finance: Or, Free Libraries Aren’t Cheap!

Human Resources: Or, And I Thought We Were Friends!

Library Law: Or, Is All This Legal?

Planning: Or, If I Knew Where We Were Going, I Wouldn’t Be Lost!

Policies: Or, Can You Put That in Writing?

Procedures: Or, Where’s the Light Switch?

Statistics: Or, Count on It!

II. Collection Development and Management

Acquisitions: Or, How Do I Stretch the Budget?

Cataloging with MARC: Or, How Would You Describe It?

The Library Catalog: Or, I Know We’ve Got It Somewhere!

The Collection: Or, Do You Have Something for Everyone?

III. Resource Sharing

Resource Sharing: Or, The Library Is More Than These Four Walls?

IV. Programming

Outreach: Or, Who Is Not Being Served?

Special Populations: Or, How May I Help You?

Summer Reading: Or, How to Avoid the Summer Slide?

Youth Services: Or, Kids Are Library Patrons, Too!

V. Public Services

Public Services: Or, The Library’s Ambassadors

VI. Technology

Technology: Or, What’s New Today?

VII. Additional Topics

Common Core: Or, How Can We Help Students?

Community Building: Or, How Do I Find a Good Partner?

Continuing Education: Or, How Do I Learn More?

Grant Writing: Or, Where’s the Money?

Idaho Commission for Libraries: Or, Your Friends in Boise!

Leadership: Or, Me? A Leader?

Marketing: Or, What Is My Message?

Volunteers: Or, Who Can Help?

How Can I Learn More About Idaho Libraryland?

The Idaho Commission for Libraries (ICfL) is an administrative division of the State of Idaho, serving as a library development agency whose mission is to build the capacity of Idaho libraries to better serve their clientele. Effective July 1, 2006, the Idaho State Library became the Idaho Commission for Libraries, Idaho’s state library agency. The ICfL’s chief administrator is the State Librarian, who reports to the five-member Board of Library Commissioners, appointed by the Governor. For specific questions about ICfL programs and services, please see the staff contact page.

The Idaho Library Association is the professional organization for Idaho’s librarians and library workers, headquartered in Boise, Idaho. For more information about the ILA, please contact them through their website: is the gateway for Idaho residents to free access to online tools for their educational, business, and recreational needs. The LiLI databases provide easy online access to the full text of thousands of magazines, professional journals, reference materials, and newspapers. Also included are databases for personal and professional development, including auto repair, reader advisory, health information, language learning, genealogy, scholarly research, computer and software literacy, practice tests for college and occupational entrance exams, and much, much more! For more information about LiLI services and programs, including, contact Marina Rose, E-Resources Library Consult at or 208-639-4165 local or 800-458-3271 toll-free. offers Idaho students in grades K-12 free access to a curated set of online tools focused on their educational needs.

Too Much Library Jargon? Never Fear.

The Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science (ODLIS) by Joan M. Reitz is a comprehensive and reliable English-language resource for terminology used in all types of libraries. Library folk tend to use a lot of abbreviations, acronyms, initialisms, and professional jargon, so this dictionary will come in handy as you learn the ropes. You may wish to bookmark it on your browser.