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Handbook for Library Trustees of New York State (2023 Edition)

Content from the latest edition of the Trustee Handbook.


Dear Library Trustee, 

Congratulations! As a library trustee, you have taken on a crucial and rewarding role: governing the institution dedicated to protecting the public good through reading, learning, discourse, and belonging. You are sharing in the stewardship of your community’s history and providing its residents with the tools they need to build an equitable and just future. You are dedicating your time and talents to ensuring that your library, and all that it does to protect the public good, will continue to endure in the face of any obstacle. 

The work of a library trustee isn’t always easy. During your tenure you will be called upon to make decisions that safeguard the long-term sustainability of your library’s funding, protect the right to read, and ensure that every person in your community is being equitably served.

However, this work is always rewarding. Regardless of how complex these decisions may seem, know that, as an engaged community member who believes in the importance of your public library, you are the right person for this position. These core duties of a library trustee will guide your work:  

  • Duty of care to protect the library’s resources; 
  • Duty of loyalty to the library’s mission; and  
  • Duty of obedience to the relevant policies, regulations, and laws. 

You can also rely on The Handbook for Library Trustees of New York State, an invaluable collection of best practices, tools, and resources, that provides an uncompromising vision of excellence for libraries and library boards in New York. Since its first edition in 1980, the Handbook has helped library trustees thrive in their role, leading to the vibrant libraries our state and our communities take pride in. 

The State Library thanks the authors and contributors, as well as countless committed library workers and trustees across the state, for their work in service of a strong future for New York's Libraries. 

Lauren Moore
Assistant Commissioner for Libraries and New York State Librarian 
New York State Library 
Office of Cultural Education
New York State Education Department