The Critical Partnership: Public Library Trustees and Directors

The following is text of the PowerPoint presentation from a Webinar sponsored by the New York State Division of Library Development, June 10, 2014. Presented by: Jerry Nichols, Director, Palmer Institute for Public Library Organization and Management; Long Island University; LIU Post.

Today's Topics

  • Your Job as a Trustee
  • The Role of the Library Director
  • Making it work: common goals; clear roles; open communication
  • Finding the best fit for your Library
  • Evaluating Performance: Director and Board
  • When it’s time to say Goodbye.

Your Job as a Trustee

  • To act in good faith
  • Be loyal to the institution
  • Fulfill the mission
  • Comply with the law
  • Provide Fiscal Oversight
  • Advocate for the Library
  • Hire the CEO.

See: NYS Board of Regents, Statement on the Governance Role of a Trustee or Board  Member

The Role of the Library Director

  • Be the CEO
  • Communicate/educate/inform the Board
  • Implement Board policies
  • Manage Library Operations and select/supervise/train Staff
  • Be informed and advise the Board on best professional practices
  • Prepare budget, recommend services, policies, etc.
  • Represent Library in the community (in cooperation with the Board).

Working as a Team

  • Be Engaged
  • Respect the institution, the staff and each other
  • Work as a Collective Authority
  • Understand Responsibility vs. Delegation
  • Promote Positive Corporate Culture
  • Dealing with Board misbehavior
  • Remember, It’s not about you.

Making it work:Common goals; clear roles; open communication

  • Mission/Vision/Values
  • What do you expect of each other?
  • Delegate Responsibility for Today; Assume Responsibility for Tomorrow
  • The Strategic Planning Process
  • Honesty is the best Policy.

Your Director; Finding the best fit for your Library

  • Where do you want to go?
    • Status Quo or Change Agent?
    • Internal Candidates
  • Determine the skill set and desired talents;
    • Job Description & Expectations
    • Sleeping at Night
  • What is your CEO worth?
  • Civil Service
  • Resumes
  • The Interview:
    • Pretty Face or Solid Experience?
    • Round Two

Your Director-- Now that you’ve Decided

  • The Selection Process redux
  • Employment at Will
  • Civil Service Section 75
  • Contracts, MOU’s and Handshakes
  • Defining Goals and Establishing a cyclical Evaluation Process.

Evaluating Performance -- Director and Board

Comparison of Director Evaluation Models

Traditional Progressive
Focus on Director Focus on Library
Assumes Hierarchical Relationship

Assumes Executive Partnership

Personality Driven Performance Driven
Focus on what is wrong Focus on Success
Improve Director Improve Library
Correct past problems Build future development

Adapted from the Mid-Hudson Library System: external link

When You Have a Problem

  • The need for open, honest and timely communication
  • What about those evaluations?
  • The essentials of Progressive Discipline:
    • Performance, Documentation, Consistency!
  • Is it really the Director? Or is it the Board?

When it’s time to say Goodbye

  • Fundamentals for a successful termination:
    • Clearly stated (and reasonable) job description
    • Regular written Evaluations
    • Progressive discipline
    • Documentation
    • Legal & Civil Service support
    • An ethical and considerate process
    • Thoughts about Succession Planning.
  • Public Relations Concerns

Trustee Resources

Last Updated: May 1, 2015 -- asm; for questions or comments, contact us