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Library Board Meetings

In order for a library to be eligible for State Aid, its board must meet at least twice a year, but boards may meet more often such as quarterly. [See NMAC C-9]

Open Meetings Act

By law, all board meetings must adhere to New Mexico’s Open Meetings Act, as summarized here and detailed in the handout below.

Does this law apply to libraries?
The Open Meeting Act governs all meetings of all library boards – including regularly scheduled meetings, continued or reconvened meetings, emergency and special meetings.  Library boards are subject to the Open Meeting Law any time a majority of members discuss, no matter how briefly, library business.

What notice must be given?
Public meetings must be preceded by a public notice of the time, date and place of the meetings, at least 72 hours before the meeting.  At least once a year in a public meeting, the library board must determine how reasonable notice should be given for board meetings.  If television and radio stations and newspapers ask in writing for notice of the meetings, they must also be notified.

What should be in the agenda?
The agenda should include a list of specific items to be discussed or transacted.  Agendas that are vague and likely to mislead the public are illegal.  Word the agenda in plain language, directly stating the purpose of the meeting in terms that are comprehensible to one of ordinary education and intelligence.  In many libraries, the director is responsible for developing the agenda with input from the board.

Can the board discuss items not on the agenda?
Except for emergency matters, the library board must take action only on items on the agenda.  Emergency means unforeseen circumstances that if not addressed, will likely result in injury, financial loss, or damage to persons or property. 

How does the board consider new business?
Working with the board members or chair, the library director can identify topics that the board will discuss and list these topics on the agenda.

When can the board go into a closed meeting?
A closed session is only permissible to discuss an individual employee of the library, pending litigation, collective bargaining strategy, and some purchases or sales of property.  Proposed closed sessions must be listed on the agenda.

The board must publicly vote to go into closed session by a majority vote.  The board can take no action in closed session; instead, the board must reconvene in public to take action.

What minutes should be taken?
A designated person, often the board secretary, must keep written minutes.  Minutes must include:

  1. Time and date, and place of the meeting
  2. Name of members attending and those absent
  3. A summary of the proposals considered
  4. Records of any decision and votes taken showing how each member voted

Minutes must also be approved by the board and are open to public inspection.

Does the library board have to comply with this law?
Yes, noncompliance makes the board subject to embarrassing and costly invalidations of actions taken and possible fines of up to $500 for each offense. 

Aside from these possible penalties, every library board should comply with this law simply because it is the right thing to do.  Public libraries are supported with public funds, and citizens have the right to know how public money is spent.  Library boards will find that treating members of their community with respect and handling their business with fairness and openness will result in increased confidence in and support of the library.

Meeting Agenda and Procedure

Meetings should follow guidelines, such as those outlined in Robert's Rules of Order, which may be available in your library. These guidelines help maintain consistency and well organized meetings.

A sample board meeting agenda might be:

I. Call to Order

II. Approval of Minutes from the previous Board Meeting

III. Staff Reports

IV. Old Business

A. Annual Review of Library’s Long Range Plan

B. Update on State Aid funding

C. Other

V. New Business

A. Election of Board Officers

B.  Review of Proposed Changes to Library’s Internet Usage Policy

C. Upcoming Friends’ Book Sale

D. Introduction of Library’s New Database

E. Other

VI. Announcements

VII. Adjournment

Handouts for more info:

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