07 January 2014

Library Board of Trustees

Libraries are often complex organizations, particularly when multiple locations and governance are considered.  Here in South Carolina state law guides the delivery of library services through the counties under the terms of Title 4: Counties, Chapter 9: County Government. One can read the public library related requirements at http://bit.ly/18xbBf1

Each county government has among its enumerated powers to raise tax monies "to make appropriations for functions and operations of the county, including, but not limited to, appropriations for general public works, including roads, drainage, street lighting, and other public works; water treatment and distribution; sewage collection and treatment; courts and criminal justice administration; correctional institutions; public health; social services; transportation; planning; economic development; recreation; public safety, including police and fire protection, disaster preparedness, regulatory code enforcement; hospital and medical care; sanitation, including solid waste collection and disposal; elections; libraries; and to provide for the regulation and enforcement of the above." (SC 4-9-30)  This provision can lead to some interesting discussions in County Council meetings as there is never enough money to spread around to meet all the needs and desires for delivering excellent services to the electorate. 

Each county government is responsible for selecting Library Board of Trustee members who are to control and manage the Library. (SC 4-9-35) One area of the county should not dominate the library system: "To the extent feasible, [Library Board of Trustee] members shall be appointed from all geographical areas of the county." Under state law, the size of county Library boards can vary from 7 members to 11 members.  Each county Library Board of Trustees must meet at least four times a year.

The Beaufort County Library Board of Trustees consists of 11 members chosen by the members of the County Council for terms of four years. Most members of the Library Board of Trustees live in the district they represent although some do serve "out of district." The BCL Board of Trustees meet at least 6 times a year. 

The Library Board of Trustees have a considerable list of responsibilities, among which are:
  • They accept the legal responsibility to maintain a free public nonsectarian library for all residents in the the library's service area; They are to look after the well-being of the library.
  • They accept the legal responsibility for the library's policies, rules and regulations.
  • They adopt bylaws for board procedures.
  • They hire and evaluate the library director.
  • They establish fee structures for non-resident users.
  • They act as advocates for the library and present the library point of view to their local, state, and national legislators and leaders.
  • They appoint a member of the board to act as liaison to the Friends groups (The Beaufort County Library system has three: Friends of the Beaufort Library; Friends of Hilton Head Library; and Friends of Bluffton Library).
  • They determine and adopt written policies to govern the operation, use, and programs of the library.
  • They keep abreast of the financial status of the library and secure adequate funds. 
Trustees do not manage the day-to-day business of the Library nor do they hire, fire or evaluate library personnel, apart from the director.  

Library Board of Trustees meetings are always open to the public. Documents presented during the meetings are public documents. The location site rotates among the branch libraries with public meeting space of sufficient size to accommodate the Board and visitors. The first meeting of 2014 is set for Wed., January 8th at Bluffton Branch Library, 120 Palmetto Way.  The current members and the schedule for 2014 is posted at http://www.beaufortcountylibrary.org/content/library-board-trustees.

No comments: