April 2021 Trustee Times

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Trustee Times - April 2021

Hennika District Library image in Wayland, Michigan

Trustee Times is a bi-monthly newsletter published by the Library of Michigan, featuring information of interest to public library boards. Information included in this newsletter is for informational purposes, and does not constitute legal or financial advice. Please consult your library’s attorney with any questions about your specific situation. 


In this Issue:                                                                 

Spring is Finally Here!

April Showers Umbrella

Spring is finally here! It is so nice to see a bit more sun and enjoy the outdoors with a few less layers this month. We trust you have been safe and well through the winter. April brings with it the fourth issue of the Trustee Times. Hopefully the content and articles of the past few issues have been useful in your role as public library trustee. Please take a moment to respond to our survey here and provide feedback about what is useful or not to you and what you might like to see in future issues or as training topics for Michigan trustees.  

In this issue, several of the resources we have available are recordings of trainings or information sessions that relate to library administration and trusteesThese can be viewed 24/7 online at your convenience. We hope you find useful information that can help in your role as a public library trustee. 


National Library Week

National Library Week poster by ALA

National Library Week is taking place April 4-10, 2021. The theme is  Welcome to Your Library. Libraries are open to everyone and whether people visit in person or virtually, libraries offer a multitude of opportunities. A full week of activities are planned, including National Library Workers Day (April 6), a Virtual Bookmobile Parade (April 7), and a release of the State of America’s Libraries reportNatalie Portman, actress, author, and activist, is the 2021 National Library week Honorary Chair. 

The American Library Association (ALA) provides a day-by-day calendar to use in local planning, as well as free downloadable graphics for library use on social media and other digital communication.

Watch the Library of Michigan Facebook page and other LM social channels for a celebration of Michigan libraries during National Library Week!


Resources for New Trustees - New Library Privacy Act

Law Books in a Law Library

In December, Governor Whitmer signed into law SB 611, which amends the Library Privacy Act (MCL 397. 601 et seq.)  A set of requirements that probably are not often discussed among library boards, the Library Privacy Act protects library records such as patron identity, reading history, and library usage details from disclosure. Michigan’s law is similar to library privacy laws in approximately 47 other states. The majority of these laws were implemented in the 1970s and 80s when state and federal law enforcement agencies began to use library records as leads to suspects and evidence of crime – often erroneously. It was determined that as a part of Americans’ constitutional right to information, people have a right to access information of their choosing without fear of judgment or retribution. 

Michigan’s Library Privacy law, while strong, did not anticipate certain changes in the way libraries operate that have occurred over time as a result of technological, societal, and economic shifts. In addition, a lack of legal authority to assist in the interpretation of the existing law resulted in inconsistent application of the law’s requirements among libraries across the state. Even attorneys were divided over compliance with certain portions of the existing law. 

The amendments added by SB 611 (2020 PA 315), go into effect on March 29, 2021, and include provisions that provide clarification and reasonable options for libraries struggling to balance protection of patron information with the realities of  modern library service: 

  • Clarifies whether security video is a “library record” (it is not unless the images display a patron’s use of specific library services or materials, such as a legible image of a computer screen being accessed by a patron)and permits the disclosure of such footage to law enforcement without a warrant. 
  • Permits library staff to provide testimony to law enforcement with regards to information in connection to a crime occurring in the library (The existing law was unclear on whether this was permitted). 
  • Clarifies the penalties of violation by separating liability for the library as an entity from individual staff and board member liability. 


The library is liable to a fine, court costs, and reasonable attorney fees plus a civil suit for damages suffered by the person whose information was wrongly disclosed, even if the disclosure isn’t intentional 

Staff, agents, volunteers working for the library, and board members are individually liable for the same costs, fees, and potential damages if they knowingly disclose information without written permission of the person owning the recordKnowingly means the person discloses the information even though they know that the law prohibits it. Patrons whose information was disclosed can also sue the library as an entity if disclosure knowingly occurs by a staff member, volunteer, board member, agent, or vendor. 

The penalty clarification also extends liability to vendors with library contracts who have access to patron information (such as database vendors, ILS vendors, etc.). This means if a vendor handling patron information has a data breach, or mishandles the information, they are liable for the same fees, costs, and damages as library staff and board. 

It is important to note that many of the updated disclosure sections are discretionary. This means that it is up to the library whether they wish to change their policy of requiring a warrant for all disclosure to law enforcement. The decision on whether to and/or how to amend policies and procedures relating to patron information is one that a board and director are strongly encouraged to discuss with their attorney. 

However a library decides to proceed with disclosure policies, these amendments will still mean that a library must update its privacy policies. In addition, boards, staff, volunteers, vendors, and other parties who may be liable for a violation of this act, must be notified of the law and their responsibilities under it. Libraries will want to provide adequate training and information to these entities. 

It is a good idea for boards and their directors to consult their library attorneys for advice on an updated policy as well as the liability risk. 


Upcoming Trustee Training Opportunities

Lady at a desk with a laptop


The month of April brings with it a variety of training sessions of interest to trustees. You can find full details and registration for these online webinars using the links below or on our website under LM Continuing Education Opportunities. 



  • Proactive Advocacy and Communication for Library Trustees and Staff An online recorded webinar available for viewing anytime at WebJunction – Learn about simple steps boards and library staff can integrate into their communication process, to be better prepared for unknown changes. Learn about the tools and how they can set the stage for dealing more effectively with any crisis your library faces in the futureBoard and staff members can set up their own free WebJunction account to access.  
  • Uniform Chart of Accounts Updates Recorded session from March 2, 2021. The Michigan Uniform Chart of Accounts, UCA, provides a systematic arrangement and means for the uniform accumulation, recording, and reporting of financial information and transactions for all local units of government in Michigan. Local units of government, including public libraries, are required to use the UCA in administering their financial accounts. The Michigan Department of Treasury issued an update in late 2020. 
  • Library of Michigan Webinar Archives Miss a recent training session? You can find captioned recordings of our webinars approximately 7-10 days after the live event. Find recordings under: Library Law, Public Library Financial Management, Public Library Administration, and more, from the LM Webinar Archives page. 

The above resources are made possible in part by LM and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

  • Michigan Library Association Library Advocacy Day On April 20 you can join a live online opportunity to learn skills and networks to support advocacy efforts of public libraries. Register and find more details on the linked MLA website.
  • Get on Board! Effective Board Meetings and Good Governance  MSU-Extension presents this three-part series, April 12, 19, and 26, from 6:00 to 7:30 pm ESTThe webinar series is intended for new or seasoned elected and appointed government boards to explore good governance, effective meetings, and Robert's rules of order.  


Never registered for a LM webinar? You will need to create an account in our systemInstructions can be found on our website. Need extra help with your registration? Email us at LM-LibTraining@michigan.gov or call 517-335-1517.  

Find all of LM’s training opportunities on the Continuing Education page. Have you missed a LM webinar or want to share the information with other board members? You can find recordings of many LM sessions on our webinar archive page. Be sure to look at the recordings found under the Library Law section of this page.   


Have You Missed an Issue of Trustee Times?

Read Previous Trustee Times online:  October & December and February

Tips - Uniform Chart of Accounts Updates

Group of people at a meeting sitting around a table

In late November 2020, the Michigan Department of Treasury announced the final release of the Michigan Uniform Chart of Accounts (UCA). Revisions have been released in a number of drafts over the past few years and feedback has been solicited from local units of government. The changes have been made in order to comply with changing accounting principles. In April, the Department of Treasury released implementation dates for local units. We recommend public libraries review the information with their auditors, accountants, bookkeepers, and municipal staff as needed to ensure compliance by the required deadline. 

LM has posted links to the Department of Treasury and other resources to assist public libraries at For Libraries – Administration -- Financial Management. You can find links here to the Department of Treasury site with additional information such as the UCA Final Release Memo, FAQs, and UCA Implementation Dates. On March 2, LM also hosted a 90-minute webinar, Uniform Chart of Accounts Updates. A recording of this session is available on the same site.  

For general information to support directors, staff, and Board members in performing accounting and financial management functions, LM has the Public Library Financial Management Guide September 2019 online at the LM website. Public libraries received a paper copy of this manual in March. 

Stay Connected

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Looking for information or resources to help you with your duties as a public library board member? LM’s Library Development web pages have lots of content to supportrusteesFind topics under the Administration sectionBe sure to visit our website or connect with us for assistance.

Follow LM on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram too!  



Please note that any research or resources provided here are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue, question, or problem. 


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