Trustee Times Bulletin October 2020 from the Library of Michigan

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Trustee Times  -  October 2020

In this Issue:

Welcome to the Trustee Times

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Welcome Michigan Public Library Trustees, to the first issue of the Library of Michigan’s Trustee Times.  We hope that you find the content provided here useful to your duties as a public library trustee and helpful as you support the library organization you serve. Trustees play a vital role for these important public entities. 

Our content features information of interest to public library boards and will include topics such as training opportunities, legal issues, helpful information, and relevant news impacting governance of public libraries here in Michigan. The information included is for informational purposes and does not constitute legal or financial advice. As alwaysdon’t forget to consult your library’s attorney with any questions about your specific situation! 

In this issue: 

  • Updated Michigan Public Library Trustee Manual 2020 edition is now available 
  • Upcoming Trustee Training Opportunities 
  • Orientation Tips for Library Boards

Updated Michigan Public Library Trustee Manual 2020 Edition is Now Available

TRustee Manual Cover

The newly updated Michigan Public Library Trustee Manual is available on the LM website:

Paper copies of this manual will be mailed out to all public libraries in the late fall. 

Changes include the addition of explanations of amendments to certain laws affecting libraries; new sources for information and training; and added explanation and commentary. The manual contains a wealth of information for trustees to utilize in learning about and fulfilling their roles in governing their library.

Upcoming Trustee Training Opportunities from LM

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Have you been looking for an opportunity to learn more about what being a public library trustee is all about?  Are you new to a library board or finding you have some unanswered questions about your responsibilities?  Do you want to update your board bylaws? Be sure to join us for these upcoming virtual opportunities. Join the LM Library Law Consultant, Clare Membiela, for these free sessions. Participants dneed to register to obtain the login information to join the Zoom meeting. 

The monthly Library Law Spotlight, October 30, will feature the topic of Bylaws. This one-hour virtual webinar will discuss how a board can create, update, and maintain their Bylaws so their rules remain relevant and useful. Our webinars are always recorded so if you miss this event you can always find the recording on our YouTube channel after it is captioned. 

On November 12 and 19, join the LM for a two-part series for library trustees. The first in the series is Library Trustee 101, an introduction to being a library trustee and includes information about what to know, who to ask when you have questions, and how to avoid common pitfalls. Participants in this first session will learn the duties and responsibilities of a library trustee; understand the library’s role as a public entity; and know where to find information and answers on issues as they arise.  

Part two of this series, Library Trustee 102 Advanced Trustee, builds on the first session and discusses matters involving finance, personnel, Open Meetings and more of the sticky situations boards often tackle. 

If you have not registered for a LM webinar previously you will need to create an account. Just click on the titles above for each session to start the registration process. Additional instructions can be found on our website. Need extra help with registration? Email us at or call 517-335-1517. 

These sessions will be recorded and available for later viewing and Library Trustee 101/102 sessions will be scheduled to repeat again in the winter.  To keep up with LM webinars visit our list of continuing education offerings online. 

Have you reviewed the Open Meetings Act Handbook lately?

You can find it online. Trustees should periodically review the Open Meetings Act Handbook to ensure your public meetings meet the OMA.

Orientation Tips for Library Boards

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The Fall/Winter season is when many new trustees are elected or appointed to boards.  If you are a newly (or recently) elected or appointed trustee, ask your library director about scheduling an orientation session. Orientation sessions are crucial in helping new trustees get up to speed on the requirements and responsibilities of their new office. Even established trustees can benefit from an orientation training session.  

A good orientation can be accomplished in one long session, or it can be presented over a series of short sessions – 10-15 minutes at the beginning or end of a monthly board meeting. Information can be provided by the same source each session, or by a variety of presenters, including  your director, your Cooperative Directorthe LM, your library attorney, or even via recorded sessions available on UFL.  

No matter how your library provides the information, a comprehensive Board Orientation should include the following elements: 

  • An explanation of your library’s establishment type and the establishment law that guides it.
  • An explanation of your library’s authority in relation to the municipality(ies) it serves.
  • An explanation of what it means to be a public (government) entityas opposed to a non-profit or  commercial entity.
  • An explanation of the board’s legal responsibilities and duties as dictated by the appropriate establishment law.
  • An explanation of board members’ duties as public officers, as dictated by the appropriate state and municipal laws.
  • An explanation of the board’s authority, including the limits of that authority. 
  • An explanation of the role and responsibilities of the library director, as dictated by best practice and professional standards. 
  • An introduction into how a public library functions from an institutional standpoint - What do library directors do all day? What do staff do? What services are provided in the community? What are the director’s biggest challenges? 
  • A thorough tour of the library facilities – including staff areas and workrooms not available to the public.
  • An introduction to the Cooperative to which the library belongs. 
  • An explanation of the library’s funding sources - Millage? Appropriation? Contracted areas? Penal Fines? State Aid to Libraries?
  • An explanation of the library’s financial processes and status.
  • A review of the Board’s current Bylaws.
  • A review of any board policies not contained within the Bylaws. 
  • A review of the board member’s term dates and procedure of re-election or appointment. 
  • An explanation of the relationship of the Friend’s group to the library.

    Every Board member should have: 
  • copy of the current Bylaws. 
  • copy of the most recent library budget, and financial audit report. Audit reports are freely available online at the Michigan Department of Treasury site. 
  • copy or online access to Library policies, including employee handbook/policies. 
  • copy of the LM Trustee Manual, either in print or online. 
  • A copy or online access to the previous year’s Board meeting minutes. 
  • A copy or online access to a copy of the most recent collective bargaining agreement if the library has a unionized staff. 

    A public library trustee is a public office and is one that can be demanding as well as rewarding. It is important for the success of the trustee, and for the success of the library and its staff, that the trustees are adequately trained and informed of the expectations and requirements of their position. If trustees are looking for training, they should discuss it with their director, their Cooperative Director, or the LM. We are all here to help you succeed! 

Stay Connected!

Michigan Library and Hsitorical Center

Follow LM on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. Also, visit our website, For Libraries, for more information from the Library Development department to support your role as a public library trustee. 

Need to learn more about library administration?

Take a look at the Administration section of our website to find resources on Library Law, State Aid, Trustees, Quality Services Audit Checklist (QSAC), and more.