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Nebraska Library Board Manual

 CHAPTER CONTENTS What Is An Advisory Board? Productive Advisory Boards The Role of an Advisory Board The Advisory Board & The Director Advisory Board Duties Library Director Duties


   What Is An Advisory Board?

Some public libraries in Nebraska in cities of the first class are organized under  Chapter 16 (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 16-251)  have library boards selected in accordance with local ordinances. All libraries in communities with fewer than 5,000 inhabitants have governing library boards. Cities of the first class and larger have the option of having either advisory or governing library boards, as determined by their city councils. Boards organized under Chapter 16 are advisory rather than governing/administrative. Advisory boards recommend policies and regulations, but final administrative authority rests with the city manager/administrator and city council.

An advisory library board is appointed by the governing body of which the library is a unit (i.e., the city council). The duties and responsibilities of the advisory board vary with the laws and ordinances under which the library was created and operates. In most instances, the advisory board acts as a liaison between the community and the governing body to promote the library's services and programs. Some library boards incorporate some of the responsibilities of a governing board and some of an advisory board—a hybrid that has evolved to best serve their communities.


   How Can An Advisory Board Be Productive?

An advisory board fulfills an important role by providing an avenue for public participation in planning library programs and services. Thus, the public that the library serves can contribute ideas and define problems. Also, library plans get a boost from participation and understanding by citizens. An advisory board that accepts responsibility for giving advice should be prepared to:
  • Meet regularly and participate actively in these meetings.
  • Share plans and problems and ask for ideas.
  • Accept special assignments (for example, to collect community information).
  • Plan for the board's participation in the planning process, the work of financing, and the excitement of making future plans.
  • Be active in the community to promote the library.
  • Be active in the political process that works for legislation and support at local, state and national levels.
  • Help identify people in the community who will be active in support of the library.
  • Keep informed of the latest development in library service and see that the local library does not lag behind.
  • Seek support from governing bodies.
An active advisory board has the opportunity to be involved and influential in library development without the responsibility of administrative details.

   What is the Role of an Advisory Board Member?

The principal role of an advisory board is to make informed recommendations to elected officials (e.g., mayor and city council).
Your job is to know:
  • Your responsibilities.
  • The services and resources available in the library.
  • Your local government and its officials.
  • The people in your community.
  • How to work effectively in a group.
  • The services and resources available in other libraries in your community.
  • The System of which your library is a member: the responsibilities and privileges incurred by membership.
To remember:
  • That daily operations of the library are the library director's responsibility.
  • That working through the library director - not the rest of the staff - is the appropriate method for effecting change.
  • That your personal opinion is important in board meetings, but that you must support library policies.
To attend:
  • Board meetings.
  • Committee meetings.
  • Nebraska Library Association and American Library Association meetings whenever possible.
  • Other local meetings where your presence may be beneficial to the library.
To plan:
  • Future growth and priorities of the library.
  • Active community awareness programs.
  • Orientation for new board members.
To support:
  • Your library and its policies.
  • Your local governing body.
  • The public and its right to information.
  • Intellectual Freedom.
To act:
  • To articulate your library's needs.
  • To promote your library whenever appropriate.
  • To develop good personal relations with local, state and federal representatives of government.
  • To make yourself, you board and your library visible in the community.

   The Advisory Board & The Library Director

The library board and the library director work as a team to achieve the best for the library, but each has separate responsibilities.


   Duties of the Advisory Board

The library board is appointed by the city council or other governing entity to serve as a liaison between the library and its citizens. The board advises the library director and the city council in matters related to the library and its services, and promotes the library and its programs.

The advisory board's duties and responsibilities include:
  • Acting in an advisory capacity to the city council in matters that pertain to the library.
  • Receiving suggestions and recommendatios from citizens relating to library service.
  • Referring complaints, compliments and suggestions to the library director, who reports to a chief executive officer, who reports to the city council.
  • Knowing how the library is organized and functions.
  • Knowing the collection, the staff and the activities of the library in order to communicate with the citizens and the city council.
  • Recognizing that the library director and others on the staff are professionals in the field of librarianship and respect their expertise.
  • Supporting Intellectual Freedom and rights to access in the public library.


   Duties of the Library Director

The library director is responsible for the organization, planning, direction and administration of library services and activities to provide quality library service. The director works with the advisory board, as well as with other groups, to promote the library.

The library director's duties and responsibilities include:
  • Meeting with the library board at regularly scheduled meetings.
  • Helping prepare the agenda with the board chair.
  • Keeping the board informed of the activities, acquisitions, and new personnel of the library.
  • Educating and informing the board regarding budget and finance implications.
  • Directing the care and maintenance of the library building and equipment.
  • Supervising the selection, training and performance of the library staff.
  • Preparing the annual budget proposal.
  • Overseeing the expenditures of the budget.
  • Assuming the responsibility for the monthly and annual reports of library service and activities.
  • Attending meetings, workshops, seminars and conferences of organizations that are appropriate to the library management fields.
  • Supervising selection, processing, and weeding of all library materials and equipment.
  • Keeping informed of library trends through professional reading.
  • Promoting the library, its materials and programming via web sites, social media, cable television, radio stations, newspapers, city newsletters, library calendars, brochures, pamphlets and displays.
A special thanks to the Texas State Library for granting permission to use parts of the publication, Public Library Advisory Board Handbook, Texas State Library, Library Development Division, 1992.

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created 2006; rev. 7/2015                                                        For more information, contact Holli Duggan

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