Public Libraries

5 Ways to Prepare Your Library Board for 2024

Trustees may be eager to support the library but unsure how. Get them prepared with simple strategies to start the new year right.

5 Ways to Prepare Your Library Board for 2024

As a director, you know that library board members can be your biggest advocates. But sometimes, you might feel like the board is overly involved or disconnected from the library and community. Board members might mean well, but they may be unsure about what they need to do or how to do it.

Open communication and consistent training can help. And you don’t have to do it alone. Keep reading to learn how you can get everyone moving in the same direction in 2024.

Tips for a Great New Year (and beyond)

Help the board understand what librarians do. Not all board members will understand what you—and the library—do. Instead of getting frustrated, think of this as a teaching opportunity. Trustees might not know about some of the library's specialized services or what it means to be a librarian. Talk about your education and experience. Help them understand the art and science of running such a valuable cultural and community organization so they can advocate for you. And don’t forget to sing your staff’s praises so the board understands how everyone contributes to the library’s success.

Help the board understand what trustees do. When I joined my library board, one of my biggest goals was to stay in my lane. My role is to help govern the library, not run it. I had the advantage of many years in libraries, but some trustees might not understand their job or how to do it. They may be confused about who—trustees, directors, or staff—is responsible for what. Constant, consistent training is one of the best ways to prepare boards for their work. Niche Academy can help you create a culture of training and continuing education. Our Welcome to the Board tutorial series covers topics including strategic planning, advocacy, policies, budgets, and working with the director. 

screenshot Welcome-To-The-Board-Series in Niche Academy marketplace

Talk about library ethics. Although trustees aren’t involved in day-to-day operations, they are responsible for setting and upholding policy. But many trustees won’t know libraries operate by a code of ethics. Ensuring they understand core documents like the ALA Code of Ethics, Library Bill of Rights, and Freedom to Read Statement prepares trustees before ethical dilemmas arise. You can share the Niche Academy Code of Ethics tutorial series so trustees can learn independently. Then, spend part of each meeting talking about common ethical issues to establish mutual understanding.

screenshot Code-of-Ethics series in Niche Academy marketplace

If you want more direction, use the Code of Ethics for New Directors tutorial for great ideas and activities on library ethics. 

screenshot Code-of-Ethics-for-New-Directors tutorial introKeep the board updated on major issues. Some trustees may attend library conferences and webinars or read professional journals, but many won’t. Use emails and other communication to share major issues facing libraries today—even if they’re not issues at your library. Always share anything that crops up outside library journals, like local or national stories, so trustees understand the bigger library ecosystem, information access, and community issues. Real-world examples of challenges and successes can help inspire board members as they strategize in your community. 

Encourage the board to get involved. As a brand-new librarian, I did a lot of programming. I was always surprised when trustees took the time to come to an event I had organized. Even though I was a little intimidated, it made a huge impression when they congratulated me on the program. It was clear that they were interested in the library and community. I felt like we were all part of the same team. Now, as a board member, I try to do the same at my local library. Share your library’s programming schedule with trustees and encourage them to attend events to see and support the staff’s great work.

Start Connecting Today

If you’re ready to build better trustee relationships, align visions, and move your library into 2024, we’ve got you covered. 

At Niche Academy, we help libraries solve big problems together, and we believe in a people-focused approach. Our professionally developed training tutorials help board members understand their role—and yours. Tutorials on the ALA Code of Ethics, board responsibilities, and general library services give everyone a shared grasp of what the library does and how each individual supports growth and community engagement. Our consistent training gets everyone on the same page, helps you prepare for problems before they happen, and keeps your board functioning smoothly.

If you’d like to learn more, request a demo. Our experts will show you how to make training board members easier, saving you time to build relationships that move your library into 2024—its best year yet! 

Request a Free Demo

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