Guest post by Mary Soucie, State Librarian (first published in the July 2016 issue of Flickertale)
This month, we are going to explore another of the NDLCC Standards: Board Orientation. As a former library director, a former public library trustee and a former regional library system trustee, I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a strong orientation for new board members.
It is critical that you share important information with trustees from the get-go. While orientations may vary some from library to library, there are some crucial elements that should be included. It is important to share the library’s vision and mission statements so that trustees understand the values and culture of the library. If your vision and mission statement don’t reflect the organizational values and culture, it may be time to look at an update to both statements. It is also important to share the library’s budget and a copy of all library policies.
I liked to create a binder for trustees that included our vision and mission statements; copies of the current policies; an organizational chart; the budget; an overview of the responsibilities of trustees and the responsibilities of the director; a copy of the most recent library newsletter; a welcome letter from the director; a schedule of board meetings; an address list of all board members, which also included terms; and a copy of the minutes from the last three meetings. Also included was an overview of open meetings and other pertinent local, state and federal laws.
I believe that the library director should conduct the orientation with assistance from the board president. It is also appropriate for the director to conduct the orientation on his/her own. I do not recommend that the board president present the orientation without the director.
As a trustee who was also a library director, it was important for me to have an orientation so I would know how that board operated. As a new trustee on the Regional Library System board, I needed to know the committee structure, expectations and responsibilities of the trustees. It was important for me to learn from the organization’s perspective what the role of the trustee was for that particular organization and how business was conducted at the board meetings.
Compliance with the standards by July 1, 2017, will be required for any public library that wishes to apply for Library Vision grants. If you need assistance creating an orientation for new board members or have any questions about the standards, please contact your Library Development Specialist. If you’re not sure who your LDS is, you can find out here: http://library.nd.gov/fieldservices.html