by Sarah Deringer, Head Editor, INALJ Kentucky
Your Library Board is NOT a Glass Ceiling – Tips to Build Your Library’s Future Together
If you have ever worked at a library with a board of trustees, you may have found it to be a struggle when communicating and developing plans for library improvements. The main concern from library boards might be money, and getting around that obstacle can really slow down progress in improving the library. Do not EVER let this obstacle or any other obstacles stop you from dreaming about and building your library’s future! Here are some tips and resources to look at when convincing your library board of needed improvements:
- Communicate your vision. If you do not let your library board what your ideas are, there is no chance that they will ever accept. If you do not tell them, your great idea of expanding the young adult’s non-fiction collection will stay just an idea. Speaking up is imperative to ensuring the positive future of the library. Of course, you should communicate with respect to the ideas and insight of the library board of trustees as well.
- Make them care. Your library board wants to know a lot of things about your ideas, not just the idea itself. They will want to know about the cost, how to get the idea underway and executed, how it will affect the community’s opinion of the library, and what their role in the project will be. Two main questions to ask yourself when planning how to make the library board care include:
- How does it affect the library board? Does the idea solve a problem that will make their lives and roles on the library board easier?
- Does the community want and / or need this idea to happen? Have patrons been asking about self-checkout stations or whatever your idea might be? Is your idea one that will help better serve the community? Will it bring more resources to the library’s collection and services?
- Show the board what steps need to be taken to make your idea happen. Your idea could be very simple, or it could be an idea that needs to be executed in a multi-step process. In either case, by helping the board see each step along the way, they will begin to understand the possibility of your idea. Looking at other libraries that have completed projects similar to yours and contacting those libraries for tips and tricks is a great way to develop a written plan for the board; being prepared for the presentation is also a great way to impress the board.
- Explain the cost and how to meet that cost to make your ideas possible. How much would your idea cost? How could you raise the money? Would the Friends of the Library group be able to help raise money through book sales, bake sales, and other fundraising events? By explaining the cost and fundraising ideas, your library board will more likely be supportive. If you are in need of grant information, check out these resources:
- ALA Grants
- Library Grants Blogspot
- University of Wisconsin Madison: Library Grant Resources
- Programming Librarian List of Grants
- Scholastic Library Grants
- Laura Bush Foundation
- Salem Press – The Library Grants Center
- Institute of Museum and Library Services – Grants
- Grant Wrangler – Library Grants
- The Getty Foundation – Library Research Grants
- The ALA Book of Library Grant Money
For more information on working with your library board of trustees, please see these great resources:
- United For Libraries: State Resources for Trustees
- United for Libraries: Working Together: Roles and Responsibilities Guidelines
- United for Libraries Webinars
- OCLC WebJunction: Friends and Trustees
- Free Management Library: All About Boards of Directors
Dealing with the library board of trustees can be intimidating and even downright frustrating, but by realizing that the library board is not a glass ceiling and communicating your vision, your ideas can be put into action and can help build a bright future for your library and community!