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

Content from the latest edition of the Trustee Handbook.

Library Trustees Association of NYS Welcome

Fellow Trustees:

Across New York State, library trustees have oversight of the many hundreds of millions of dollars that it takes to run the 757 public libraries in the state.  This is an awesome and perhaps scary responsibility.   

Your key role and responsibility as a library trustee is to work with your library director (and hire that great director!) to create the mission, develop and implement long and short-range plans to meet that mission, and to ensure adequate funding to carry out those plans. You also have other responsibilities including legal oversight of the library finances, ensuring up-to-date policies and procedures, maintaining a safe and appealing facility, and promoting the library.  And all of this must be based on your community and its needs.  

This new edition of the Handbook for Library Trustees will be one of the best resources you can have as you deal with these responsibilities. The Handbook has been a terrific resource for trustees and as laws, regulations and best practices have changed, having an up-to-date version will be even more useful.  The Handbook has been the basis of a great series of online tutorials called the Trustee Handbook Book Club.  

If it still seems overwhelming, recognize that you’re not alone!  Libraries are part of a statewide network that has a long and successful history in the state for providing excellent library service to everyone. Starting locally, your library belongs to a public library system which not only provides services to the library such as delivery of materials and interlibrary loan but also offers continuing education and consulting help for trustees and staff.  There are regional multi-type library systems linking all the various kinds of libraries in the state.  At the state level, the Division of Library Development at the New York State Library provides oversight for all libraries.  In addition, the New York Library Association (NYLA) is a professional organization for library staff and trustees. One of its major roles is advocacy for state aid and construction funds for public libraries particularly with the state legislature.  

And there is a statewide organization for you as a library trustee.  The Library Trustees Association Section (LTAS) has existed since 1949 and is now a part of NYLA with core activities of connecting trustees, educating trustees, and recognizing and celebrating the accomplishments of trustees.  We have a regular newsletter, provide programs at the annual NYLA Conference, recognize exemplary trustee service through the Velma K. Award, and support any efforts to improve the knowledge and work of library trustees.

Public libraries are truly community centers. They still provide books and sometimes a quiet place but there are many other services: after school programs, Internet service, literacy and English language classes, digital literacy help, a safe place for people of all ages who are at risk for many reasons, a place of refuge in times of crisis such as fires or floods, access to job applications, loans of equipment and toys, seeds, food – and the list goes on.  The more people, the more activity, the more noise, the better!  Libraries see what their communities need and jump right in to work out how they can help provide it.  Libraries are a major part of the social and cultural infrastructure of their community, just as important as the physical infrastructure.

Library trustees are now required to have a minimum of two hours training a year so the resources such as this Handbook, and training by systems, NYLA or LTAS, are vital to your understanding and implementing the important roles and responsibilities as a committed, trusted trustee.

LTAS is very pleased to support this latest edition of the Handbook for Library Trustees.  Please keep it close and refer to it often.  Thank you for your service as a library trustee.  Take it seriously but also take time for you and your library to have fun!

Jean Currie, President, Board of Directors 
Library Trustees Association Section of the New York Library Association (LTAS)