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Library Board Ethics

Library Board Ethics

Library boards should represent the community in which they serve by having a diverse set of individuals representing various cultures, ages, ethnicities, and genders. When members of the board come together to make decisions, the board members must present a unified voice despite the difference of opinions that may exist. These library board ethics have been created in the hope that boards can avoid some of the friction that can easily lead to disagreement and controversy. The Indiana State Library Trustee Manual, "In the Public Trust," compiled the following list as a suggested code of ethical conduct for boards to consider and adopt.

As a member of the library board I will:

  • Listen carefully to fellow board members
  • Respect the opinion of the other board members
  • Respect and support the majority decision of the board
  • Recognize that all authority is vested in the board when it meets in legal session and not with individual board members
  • Keep well-informed of developments that are relevant to issues that may come before the board
  • Participate actively in board meetings and actions
  • Call to the attention of the board any issues that I believe will have an adverse effect on the library
  • Attempt to interpret the needs of the community to the library and interpret the action of the library to the community
  • Refer complaints about the library to the proper level on the chain of command
  • Recognize that the board member’s job is to ensure that the library is well-managed, not to manage the library
  • Vote to hire the best possible person to manage the library
  • Represent the whole community to the library and not a particular area or group
  • Do my best to ensure that the library is well maintained, financially secure, growing and always operating the best interests of the community.
  • Always work to learn more about the library board member’s job and how to do the job better
  • Declare any conflict of interests between my personal life and my position on the library board and avoid voting on issues that appear to be a conflict of interest

As a member of the library board I will not:

  • Be critical in or outside of the board meeting, or of fellow board members or their opinions
  • Use any part of the library for my personal advantage or the personal advantage of my friends and relatives
  • Discuss the confidential proceedings of the board outside the board meeting
  • Promise prior to a meeting how I will vote on any issue in the meeting
  • Interfere with the duties of the director or undermine the director’s authority

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