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Nebraska Library Board Manual

 CHAPTER CONTENTS Development of Competent Staff Hiring a Library Director Qualities in a Library Director Exit Interviews Factors to Consider Qualifications to Advertise Advertising Jobs Conducting a Search New Director Orientation Library Director Evaluation Library Board & Staff Additional Resources


   Encouraging the Development of Competent Staff

Personnel are the library's most valuable resource and usually account for the largest portion of the budget. A library must be adequately staffed by competent, well-trained people to guarantee thorough, efficient and high-quality library service to the community. Providing continuing education opportunities for staff is important in this effort and also plays a significant role in the Nebraska Library Commission’s accreditation process.

Providing quality library service and planning for service in the future are demanding tasks. To meet these challenges, the Nebraska Library Commission has established a voluntary certification program for librarians. This program describes competencies for public librarians, establishes an initial certification, and sets criteria for ongoing recertification. Directors and board members are encouraged to consider certification for all library staff members.

Library board members promote the continued development of the library staff by encouraging participation in professional associations and attendance at workshops and conferences. Library staff involvement is an important part of accreditation through the Nebraska Library Commission. The board should also consider ways to publicly recognize staff for their efforts. This could be achieved with a notice in the local paper, a presentation or a ceremony noting outstanding achievements.

Trustees individually, and the library board as a whole, have a variety of relationships with personnel. Library trustees support the library's management structure by recognizing that all matters concerning management functions and the day-to-day operation of the library are responsibilities of the library director and his or her staff. Library board members should work with local government to ensure that all necessary personnel rules and regulations are observed. With the passage of LB 470 in 2012 any library’s personnel administrative or compensation policy or procedure must be approved by the governing body of the county, city or village before it can be implemented by the library.

What Are Boards Responsible For? Quote

   Hiring a Library Director

The library board is responsible for selecting a qualified and effective library director. The board’s selection will have a major impact upon the library’s future successes and its image in the community.

There are many different aspects to the hiring process. Trustees must be sensitive to Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action provisions in addition to requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The board should be actively involved in the process since they are uniquely acquainted with the library and its operations. Procedures for selecting a library director vary. Once a need to hire becomes apparent, trustees have several responsibilities. They should appraise the situation, draft a job description, advertise and search, hire, and finally conduct an orientation for the new director, followed by an eventual evaluation of job performance. Board members should work with local officials to ensure that all necessary personnel rules and regulations are observed.


   Qualities to Look For in a Library Director

Board members should make a realistic appraisal of the situation to determine what qualifications the library requires in a director and what the library has to offer the librarian. This appraisal should begin with a hard look at the current status of the library. Trustees may use the library’s current strategic plan to assist with this appraisal.

Some fundamental questions to consider are:
  • What is the role of the library in the community today?
  • Have library needs changed? Has the library kept pace?
  • What does the library board really want or need in the next director?
  • What is the reason for the job opening? (An exit interview with the departing director is useful.)

policies guide Quote

   Exit Interview

An exit interview is typically performed with an outgoing employee in order to gather data about working conditions. This information may be useful for future personnel or management plans. The exit interview with the outgoing library director may provide information to help shape the search for a new director.

When conducting the exit interview, board members should consider questions that will help them gain the most useful information. For example:
  • Why is the director leaving? Is the person moving toward a higher-ranking position elsewhere? Is the person retiring? Was there something that triggered the director’s decision to leave?
  • What did the director find the most satisfying about the job?
  • What did the director find the least satisfying about the job?
  • What would the departing director change about the job?
  • Did the director’s job duties turn out to be as expected?
  • Did the director receive enough training to do the job effectively?
  • Did the director receive adequate support to do the job?
Library board members should also consider if the board was satisfied with the previous director’s skills and abilities. This may assist the board when interviewing and finally selecting a new director. The board should remember, however, that each new director brings a different set of skills to the position.


   Other Factors to Consider When Selecting a Library Director

In order to select the most appropriate person for the position of director, library board members should consider their community, the needs and goals of the library, and the general environment. Factors to consider when assessing community needs include:
  • Community size and location.
  • Community residents: What are their occupations, recreational habits, educational level, historical and/or ethnic heritage?
  • Business community.
  • Unique assets and liabilities of the community that might appeal to or discourage applicants.
Factors to consider when assessing library services and needs include:
  • Size of library and staff.
  • Particular administrative problems that might require particular abilities.
Factors to consider when assessing the environment include:
  • Salaries being offered by like-sized libraries.
  • Pool of qualified candidates.
  • Availability of professional development and professional support opportunities.
As a result of this assessment, the board may want to redefine the job, elevate the position, and/or revise qualifications and statements of job responsibilities. The selection of a competent library director can be the most important single act undertaken by the board of trustees.


   Qualifications to Include in the Advertisement

Using what was learned from the appraisal, the library board should draw up a list of desirable qualifications that can be used to compose a job announcement. These qualifications might include:
  • Education level and professional training.
  • Previous library experience.
  • Managerial skills and previous supervisory experience.
  • Strong communication skills.
  • Strong computer skills.
  • Character traits such as: resourcefulness, enthusiasm, self-confidence, leadership, dependability, genuine interest in working with people of all ages.
  • Qualifications that will assist the library in meeting requirements for accreditation.
A sample job description for a library director is included at the end of this chapter. The job announcement for the library director should include:
  • Description of the position.
  • Starting salary and/or salary range.
  • Benefits information.
  • Information about the library and community.
  • Required education, experience and personal qualities.
  • Deadline for application including resume and references submitted to designated trustees.
  • Statement of non-discrimination in hiring based on race, color, sex, national origin, religion, age, equal pay and disability.

Successful Meeting Quote

   Advertising Jobs

How widely and extensively to recruit for a director is a decision that board members will make after deciding on the desired direction of their library and on the type of individual required. Wide distribution of job opening notices to professional journals and associations may bring applications from many qualified individuals. Outlets for job advertisement include the following:
  • Major and local newspapers (fee).
  • Local library and/or city website.
  • Placement departments of library schools.
  • Nebraska Library Commission website.
  • MPLA (Mountain Plains Library Association) website
  • American Libraries (fee).
  • Library Journal (fee).
While wide recruitment may be time-consuming and even difficult at times, individuals who bring new ideas and points of view to a public library may give remarkable service to a community. Library board members have a responsibility to their community and to their library to search for the best director available.

   Conducting a Search

Who conducts the search?
Library board members should work with local government to ensure that all legal requirements for hiring personnel are followed. A search committee usually includes board members and perhaps others, such as:
  • A municipal official.
  • Members of Friends of the Library or library foundation.
  • A community representative.
  • A knowledgeable staff representative.
If the search committee does not include all board members, other members of the board should have the opportunity to meet the candidates informally, tour the library with them, etc.

How is the search conducted?
The search committee should develop a formal interview and selection process. These steps can be part of this process:
  • Decide if the board can reimburse all or part of the expenses for the candidate.
  • Decide on the number of applicants to be interviewed--usually from three to five people.
  • Make contact with and schedule candidates’ interviews.
  • Check references for potential candidates using a standard form. This standard form may be sent, with a self-addressed, stamped return envelope, to former employers and to references given. A phone call may produce a more candid evaluation, and the standard form can be used during the conversation.
  • Plan the location for the interview and accommodations for the candidate.
  • Keep the interview team to a reasonable size, usually three to five people.
  • Agree on a standard list of questions to be posed to each candidate. Library board members may want to ask staff for suggestions
  • Allow adequate time for discussion. Plan for a tour of the library and community.
  • Devise a standard evaluation sheet to be used by the search committee to note the candidates' responses and members' impressions. Allow time between interviews to complete the evaluation sheet while the members' reactions to candidates are still fresh.
After all interviews are completed, the search committee is faced with making its final selection. To help with this major decision, trustees should remember to:
  • Rank the candidates based upon the interview evaluations. Thoroughly discuss each candidate’s interview and qualifications. Seek consensus from the search committee.
  • Telephone the top candidate to offer the position, and let the person consider that decision.
  • Follow up with an information letter and/or contract which includes details of the position, duties, salary, benefits, starting date, etc. Include a second copy for the new director's signature and specify a return date indicating acceptance.
  • If the first candidate selected declines, then consider the other remaining top choices.
  • After the acceptance has been finalized, write all of the other candidates interviewed, thanking them and informing them that the position has been filled.
  • If there are no other candidates at that time that fit the board’s requirements, a new search will need to be undertaken.


   Orientation for the New Library Director

Once a new library director has been selected, the individual should be provided with as much information as possible, including the library’s strategic plans, budgets, library history and community information. The board of trustees may want to establish time periods at which the board discusses progress with the director and offers assistance and advice.

Remember to:
  • Orient the new library director and assist with the person’s relocation.
  • Welcome the new director. News releases and photographic coverage should be arranged with the local newspaper. An open house or reception hosted by the library board is a nice courtesy to consider.
  • Provide information on the library, library staff, Friends of the library, library foundation and the community.


   Library Director Evaluation

How does the library board evaluate the director?
The performance of the director should be reviewed after the first three to six months, and annually thereafter. Library boards are evaluating their library director all the time by what they see in the building and by what they hear from the public and staff. Early in the initial period, some short- and long-term goals and objectives might be mutually agreed upon.

Midway through the period, it can be helpful if an informal review of the library director's performance is conducted.

The job description itself can be part of the yardstick for measuring performance. A formal evaluation process, to be conducted annually, should be developed by the board. This written evaluation is an essential management practice. The board and the library director can jointly develop a list of factors that lend themselves to objective evaluations.

A formal evaluation will:
  • Provide the library director with a clear understanding of the board's expectations.
  • Ensure that the library director is aware of how well the expectations of the board are being met.
  • Identify the board's concerns, if any, so that appropriate action can be taken.
  • Demonstrate sound management practices and accountability to local municipal officials and the community.
The major methods of performance evaluation typically used are those based on:
  • Personality and behavioral traits, such as cooperation, initiative, communication, decision-making, creativity and dependability.
  • Job description outlining the major areas of responsibility.
  • Objectives that have been mutually agreed upon to be accomplished within a specific time frame.
See end of chapter for a librarian evaluation example and links to additional examples. Contact your regional system Director for other possible forms. Also consult with local city government since there may be a city form to use.


   Relationship Between The Library Board and The Staff

The library staff interacts with a wide range of community members, both inside the library and through any outreach services provided. Library board members should recognize that library staff represent the library to community members. They are part of the team that implements the library goals, objectives, and plans for service. Often they are responsible for enforcing board of trustees' policy.

In general, library board members abide by these principles:
  • The staff is directed only by the director, who interprets board policies to the staff and carries out the total library program as expected by the board.
  • Board members do not give orders or instructions to the staff.
  • Board members go to the director if there are any concerns about staff performance.
  • The board members’ role in the hiring process of staff other than the director is limited to approving job descriptions and personnel policies.
  • The board may be the final recourse for employees who have exhausted normal appeals channels.


   Additional Resources

Sample Library Director Job Description

Job Title:
Library Director

Supervised By:
Library Board

Responsible for general library operation, supervision of staff, and service to the public. Operate as a link with staff and library board to achieve efficient library operation.

  • Attend all board meetings except those directly involving library director's salary or change in status of library director. In the latter case the director may choose to have this discussion in a public meeting under Nebraska’s Open Meeting Law.
  • Supervise staff, make general task assignments, schedule work hours and time off, train new staff members, and maintain atmosphere of cooperation and teamwork.
  • Select library materials based on community interests and needs.
  • Select materials to be discarded from collection.
  • Work with board on preparation of budget.
  • Implement library programs, policies and objectives as established by the board.
Certification based on the Public Librarian Certification Program

Skills and Abilities:
  • Thorough knowledge of principles and practices of public library services.
  • Ability to communicate effectively with staff and delegate duties when appropriate.
  • Ability to communicate effectively with a diverse population and work effectively with a variety of patrons.
  • Advanced knowledge of computer software and the Internet.
  • Ability to plan, organize, and coordinate work routines, scheduling staff as necessary.
  • Ability to manage efficiently the library funds, both those given by the local government and donations.
  • Ability to foster and implement library programs, including outreach efforts, based on community interests and needs.
  • Physical stamina, as well as the ability to lift at least 20 pounds, to push and pull both loaded book carts and other library equipment and materials. Physical activity includes, but is not limited to, prolonged periods of sitting, as well as periods of standing, walking, stretching, bending and stooping.

Evaluation Form Example
Name ____________________________________ Evaluation Period _________________
Responsibilities Expectations and Goals Comments

Overall Performance
Comments: Performance Rating
Above Satisfactory _____

Satisfactory _____

Below Satisfactory ____

Agree: ___
Disagree: ___


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

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