The board delegates all library management responsibility to the director. The board’s job is monitoring the director’s effectiveness in providing library service to the community. This system is effective because it has a board of trustees who represent the interests of the community and a qualified director who has the skills to make the library run efficiently within the parameters set by the board. How much does the board do and what are the responsibilities of the library director? There are several ways to clarify responsibilities:
- Look at the relationship with the director as a partnership between the board and the director in providing the best library service to the community.
- The board members’ duties can be defined loosely as dealing with issues that affect the whole library and its position in the community. The board sets parameters of how the library will operate. Then the director’s duty is to carry out the day-to-day functions (procedures) of running the library within the parameters (policies) set by the board.
- Open communication prevents confusion and conflict. Board members and the director must feel free to discuss their respective roles.
The director is a valuable resource to the board on all issues and often the leader on many issues that come before the board. The director should attend all board meetings and be encouraged and expected to make well-supported recommendations on all issues that come before the board. The director should be expected to take part in deliberations to help the board make decisions in the best interests of library service to the community.
Although the director is responsible for the management of the library, the board retains ultimate responsibility. It is the right and responsibility of the board to request from the director all information necessary to fulfill the board’s governing responsibility. It is the director’s obligation to report to the board accurately and completely about how the library is being managed including problems, plans, progress.
The director is responsible to the board as a whole, but not responsible to each board member individually. Individual board members, including the board president, have no power to make demands or give orders to the director. This does not rule out individual board members asking the director for clarification about issues facing the board or discussing with the director concerns that individual board members may have. The board must speak with one voice when delegating to the director, when giving direction to the director, when requesting information. The director must serve the board as a whole in order to manage the library efficiently.
The chart on the next page summarizes the library board’s and director’s duties and responsibilities.