Your Library Board is NOT a Glass Ceiling – Tips to Build Your Library’s Future Together

by Sarah Deringer, Head Editor, INALJ Kentucky

Your Library Board is NOT a Glass Ceiling – Tips to Build Your Library’s Future Together

sarah.deringerIf 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:

For more information on working with your library board of trustees, please see these great resources:

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!





Naomi House

Naomi House, MLIS, is the founder and publisher of the popular LIS jobs resource (formerly I Need a Library Job). Founded in October 2010 with the assistance of her fellow Rutgers classmate, Elizabeth Leonard, INALJ’s social media presence has grown to include Facebook (retired in 2016), Twitter and a LinkedIn group, in addition to the interviews, articles and jobs found on INALJ has had over 20 Million page views and helped thousands of librarians and LIS folk find employment! Through grassroots marketing, word of mouth and a real focus on exploring unconventional resources for job leads, INALJ grew from a subscription base of 20 friends to a website with over 500,000 visits in a month. Naomi believes that well-sourced quantity is quality in this narrow job market and INALJ reflects this many new jobs published daily. She was a 2013 Library Journal Mover & Shaker and has served on the University of Maryland iSchool Board from 2014-2017. Naomi was a Reference, Marketing and Acquisitions Librarian for a contractor at a federal library outside Washington, DC, and now lives part time in Western NY and Budapest, Hungary. She has heard of spare time but hasn’t encountered it lately. She pronounces INALJ as eye-na-elle-jay. 


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