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Effective Library Boards

Effective Library Boards

Consider the following characteristics and qualities of effective boards and board members when it comes time to appoint a new member to the board.


A library board should be representative of the community. Membership should reflect:

  • A variety of skills and experiences
  • Various ages, ethnic backgrounds and income levels
  • An equal mix of men and women


Many new members on a library board do not realize how much time is involved in being an effective board member. It is a disservice to the library and the community if we tell prospective candidates that it only takes one hour a month of their time.

Active participation requires:

  • Having a library card
  • Visiting the library on a regular basis
  • Attending all board meetings
  • Arriving at meetings a little early to greet the press and visitors
  • Being prepared for the meetings, including reading minutes, agendas, and other library publications
  • Letting people know that you are on the library board
  • Keeping abreast of community and political changes and anticipate how such changes may affect the library’s funding, its service, and /or its public image
  • Attending regional and state library conferences
  • Serving on local and state library committees
  • Evaluating the board
  • Anticipating future needs of patrons and the library through strategic and long range planning
  • Working and communicating well with others


Library Board Fundamentals

  • Library boards believe in the importance of the library and in its role in the community.
  • Library board members may be future Friends of the Library and Friends of the Library may be future library board members; although they should never hold office in both groups concurrently.
  • Library boards use their influence to assist the library in obtaining desired financial support by representing the library point of view to city or county councils or commissions, the legislature and the media.
  • Library boards should be representative of the community they serve.
  • Library boards in New Mexico generally act in an advisory capacity to the city or county which establishes policies; although some boards may be the policy making agent for the library.
  • Library boards want to ensure that the library is well managed, but they should not interfere with the duties of the library director.
  • Library boards represent the library to the community and the community to the library.
  • Library boards are charged with representing the whole community to the library, not just a particular area or interest group.
  • Library boards try to ensure that the library is well maintained, financially secure, growing, and operating in the best interests of the community.