Open Meetings Law -- text of slides

Open Meetings Law (from Vimeo)

Text of slides

Slide #1

Hello! Thank you for joining us for this installment of the Helping All Trustees Succeed Mini-Webinar series on Open Meetings Law.

My name is Grace Riario. I am the Assistant Director of the Ramapo Catskill Library System.

Thank you to the New York State Library for partnering with us in providing this educational series of mini-webinars for trustees.

Please keep in mind that this is a mini-webinar, a 10 to 15 minute session. It is meant to give you a brief introduction to a topic.

Please reach out to your local Library System and refer to the Handbook for Library Trustee of New York State for further information.

Slide #2

The Helping All Trustees Succeed program, often referred to as “HATS,” was made possible thanks to the collaborative efforts of New York State Library, the Directors of Public Library Systems, the Library Trustee Association and the New York Library Association. In addition, hundreds of trustees from around the State helped shape the content and delivery of the HATS mini-webinar series.

This is another great example of how we are stronger together.

Slide #3

Every library board of trustee in New York State is required to follow Open Meetings Law. Trustees have many duties and responsibilities, among them following the Law as they conduct business. It is much easier to comply with the Law if one can understand what is required. When I think of Open Meetings law, I remember these 5Ms – Meetings, Minutes, Motions, Majority and Manners. They can be counted on one hand.

The good news is that Robert Freeman, Executive Director of the Committee on Open Government has, videos on each of these 5Ms. Just go to Committee on Open Government website and click on Open Government videos on the lower
right side of the web page or you can simply google “coog” it.

Slide #4

Let’s begin with meetings. Regular Board meetings are usually scheduled on the same day of the same week of each month, as per your Bylaws. (For example: the third Wednesday of each month). The meetings should be preceded by notice of
the time, date and place given via newspapers, library’s website, online calendar, newsletter and in the library. Providing notice of your Board meetings to the public is the Law.

If, for some reason, you have a special meeting, remember to provide notice. When a meeting is scheduled at least a week in advance, notice must be given at least 72 hours prior to the meeting. If a meeting is scheduled less than 72 hours in advance,
notice must be given at a reasonable time before the meeting. After all, community members are welcome to attend Board meetings.

Slide #5

How about those minutes? It is important that minutes are clear and concise. Minutes should be taken at every Board meeting. They should be prepared and made available within two weeks of the date of the meeting.

They are the official record of the motions and discussions of a Board meeting. According to the law: “Minutes of a regular session of the Board must consist of a record or summary of all motions, proposals, resolutions, and any other matter
formally voted upon." It is a way to make sure that the library’s business is transparent to their community members who fund the libraries.

Slide #6

Motions by definition are a formal proposal put to the Board for their consideration. Motions that are approved are Board decisions made on behalf of your community.

Financial motions are the most crucial as they are part of the Board’s fiduciary responsibility. At each Board meeting, motions such as approving monthly warrants and other financial reports; approving new or unexpected large expenditures and/or signing large contracts; and moving funds from one account or budget line to another, to name a few, are essential. In addition, Board motions are an essential part of review that occurs during an annual financial audit.

Slide #7

When we refer to the Majority of a Board, we are speaking of a quorum. According to the law, a quorum is a “majority of the whole number (of trustees regardless of vacancies)." For example, if your Board has eleven members, your quorum is six. Having a quorum is important because without it, a Board cannot hold a meeting or pass a motion.

If you have a Board meeting with just the members present that make up the quorum of your Board, you can hold a meeting. However, every motion at that meeting must pass with a unanimous affirmative vote; otherwise, they are not valid. A majority for a vote is always based on the total number of Trustees on the Board, not by a majority of those present. The validation of a financial motion is essential to the library’s ability to do business.

Slide #8

Manners – Board meetings are to be conducted in a respectful and professional manner. Time is valuable. As a Trustee, you are responsible for the financial, physical, and sustainable future of your library. As the Handbook for the Library Trustees of New York states “Debating, discussing, and even disagreeing over an issue are an important part of policy development and decision making process.” However, a debate should be controlled and allow for all opinions to be expressed in an orderly manner. Loud, chaotic disagreements should not occur at a meeting or it will be the image your library presents to the community.

Slide #9

The best resource available to you in print and online is the Handbook for Library Trustees of New York State. This resource is updated periodically especially when there are changes in law.

Slide #10

The other resource you have is your local Library System. If you are not familiar with your Public Library System. Please go to the link provided. It will bring you to a map of New York state with the public systems listed by region. Click on your area and the contact information for your system will be shown.

Also visit the Committee on Open Government website. It contains videos, articles and opinions that can answer all your questions.

Closing Statement:

Thank you to all of you, who volunteer your time and support libraries by serving in a Board.

Last Updated: November 10, 2017 -- asm; for questions or comments, contact us