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Handbook for Library Trustees of New York

Sample Bylaws

The material below is presented for illustrative purposes only. Each library should adapt their bylaws to suit their particular needs and circumstances. Bylaws must align with the library’s charter and enabling legislation (if applicable). These bylaws are based on a typical association library legal structure.

Mission Statement

(insert your Library's Mission Statement)

The _________Library exists to provide quality service to the residents of _____________ in an open and non-judgmental environment with free access to library materials in a variety of formats.


The Board of Trustees (hereinafter designated as the “Board”) of The____________ Library, a corporation created under a charter granted under Section 253 of the New York State Education Law by the Board of Regents (or Secretary of State) of the State of New York, dated________, shall be governed by the laws of New York State, the regulations of the Commissioner of Education and by the following bylaws.


  1. Name of Organization
    1. The name of the organization shall be the ___________________Library
  2. Purpose
    1. The purpose of the organization is to provide superior library service to the residents, adults and children, of the communities of _____________.
  3. Fiscal
    1. The fiscal year of the library shall be the _________ year.
  4. Board of Trustees
    1. The library shall be governed by a Board of Trustees. The Board shall consist of _______ members, elected for terms of ______ years each. (Insert any particular language regarding areas of representation or method of election. The number of trustees must conform with the Library’s charter.) Newly elected members will take office at the first meeting following the annual meeting.
    2. Eligibility for office shall be limited to adults residing or owning property within the geographical limits of the library district.
    3. Absence from three consecutive meetings shall constitute automatic dismissal from the Board unless the Board defers this dismissal by majority vote. The President shall inform the absent Board Member in writing that he/she is no longer on the Board. If dismissal is deferred by Board action the President shall inform the absent Board Member in writing the conditions of this deferral.
    4. No member shall serve for more than two consecutive three-year terms. (insert local restrictions)
    5. Any vacancy shall be filled by special election by the remaining members of the Board for the remainder of the term of that particular position. (Refer to charter for local provisions)
    6. The Board may remove a Trustee for misconduct, incapacity, neglect of duty or refusal to carry into effect the library’s educational purpose as provided in Education Law 226; subdivision 8.
    7. Each Trustee shall have one vote, irrespective of office held.
    8. A Trustee must be present at a meeting to have his/her vote counted.
    9. A majority of the whole Board (including vacancies) is required for any motion to pass.
    10. All actions of the Board shall be of the Board as a unit. No Board member shall act on behalf of the Board, on any matter, without prior approval of the Board. No Board member by virtue of his/her office shall exercise any administrative responsibility with respect to the library nor, as an individual, command the services of any library employee.
  5. Officers
    1. The officers of the Board shall be the President, Vice-President, Secretary and Treasurer, elected annually by the Board at the annual meeting. These officers shall serve for a period of one year or until their successors shall have been duly elected.
    2. The duties of such officers shall be as follows:
      1. The President shall preside at all meetings of the Board, authorize calls for any special meetings, appoint all committees, execute all documents authorized by the Board, serve as an ex-officio voting member of all committees, and generally perform all duties associated with that office.
      2. The Vice President, in the event of the absence or disability of the President, or of a vacancy in that office, shall assume and perform the duties and functions of the President.
      3. The Secretary shall keep a true and accurate record of all meetings of the Board, shall issue notice of all regular and special meetings, and shall perform such other duties as are generally associated with that office.
      4. The Treasurer (Many public libraries must appoint an independent Treasurer who is not a member of the Board. See chapter on Board Organization.) shall be the disbursing officer of the Board and shall perform such duties as generally devolve upon the office. In the absence or inability of the Treasurer, his/her duties shall be performed by such other members of the Board as the Board may designate.
  6. Director
    1. The Board shall appoint a Director who shall be the chief executive officer of the library corporation and shall have charge of the administration of the library under the direction and review of the Board. The Director shall be responsible for the care of the buildings and equipment; for the employment and direction of the staff; for the efficiency of the library's service to the public; and for the operation of the library under the financial conditions contained in the annual budget.
    2. The Director shall render and submit to the Board reports and recommendations of such policies and procedures, which, in the opinion of the Director, will improve efficiency and quality of library service. The Director shall attend all Board meetings except the portion of the meeting at which the director's appointment or salary is to be discussed or decided.
  7. Committees
    1. A nominating committee shall be appointed by the President three months prior to the Annual Meeting who will present a slate of officers and names of candidates for new trustees. Additional nominations may be made from the floor.
    2. Committees for specific purposes may be appointed by the President. Such committees shall serve until the completion of the work for which they were appointed.
    3. All committees shall make a progress report to the Board at each of its meetings.
    4. No committee will have other than advisory powers unless, by suitable action of the Board, it is granted specific power to act.
    5. The President shall be, ex officio, a member of all committees.
  8. Meetings
    1. Meetings shall be held each month, the date and hour to be set by the Board. Written notice of all meetings shall be mailed by the Secretary to each member at least five days before the meeting.
    2. A special meeting of the Board may be called at any time by the President or upon the request of three members for a specific purpose. No business may be transacted at such special meeting except the stated business.
    3. The Annual Meeting shall be held in ___________ of each year. The business transacted at this meeting shall include the election of new trustees and new officers.
    4. The operating and financial reports for the previous year shall be presented at the regular meeting in January.
    5. The preliminary budget for the subsequent calendar year, required for submission to the ___________voters, shall be presented at the regular meeting in ________.
    6. The final budget for the subsequent calendar year shall be presented for approval at the regular meeting in __________.
    7. A simple majority of the whole Board (including vacancies) shall constitute a quorum for the conducting of all business. A majority of the whole Board (including vacancies) is required for any motion to pass. If a quorum is not present at a regular meeting, the attending members may set a date for another meeting to be held within one week, and the presiding officer shall notify the absent members of this specially called meeting.
    8. The order of business for regular meetings shall include, but not be limited to, the following items which shall be covered in the sequence shown unless circumstances make an altered order more efficient:
      1. Call to Order and roll call of members
      2. Pledge of Allegiance
      3. Adoption of Agenda
      4. Approval of prior Meeting Minutes
      5. Period for public expression
      6. Correspondence
      7. Personnel Actions Report
      8. Treasurer's report
        • Report of receipts and disbursements
        • Warrants
        • Presentation of projected cash flow
      9. Director's and Department Heads’ reports
      10. Committee Reports
      11. Old Business
      12. New Business
      13. Period for public expression
      14. Dates of future board meetings
      15. Other Business
      16. Adjournment
  9. Amendments
    1. Amendments to these Bylaws may be proposed at any regular meeting and shall be voted upon at the next regular meeting. Written notice of the proposed amendment or amendments shall be sent to all absent members at least ten days prior to the voting session. A simple majority of the whole Board (including vacancies) shall be sufficient for adoption of an amendment.
    2. Any rule or resolution of the Board, whether contained in these Bylaws or otherwise, may be suspended temporarily in connection with business at hand, but such suspension, to be valid, may be taken only at a meeting at which two-thirds of the members of the Board shall be present and two-thirds of those present shall so approve.
  10. Procedure
    1. All procedures not specified herein shall be in accord with Robert's Rules of Order, Revised.

Approved by The _____________ Library Board of Trustees

Dated: _________.

All public libraries in New York State are required to make their Bylaws easily accessible to the public, including posting them on the library’s website. (Education Department Regulations (8 NYCRR) § 90.2)