Tools for Trustees

Public Library Ordinance Samples
State Library of Iowa
Lakeside Public Library: Creating a Public Library Board

Material Selection and Intellectual Freedom
Trustees must not only formulate a written selection policy, but they must defend the formulated policy in the event of citizen complaints. It is extremely important that the library board support decisions of their librarian in implementing the policy which they, the trustees, have adopted.

Combined school/public library

If your community is considering creating a combined school and public library, a must-read is this framework document created by South Dakota State Library staff. Call the State Library with questions 1-800-423-6665, option 5 or option 6.

Continuing Education

Education of board members must not cease after orientation. The needs of the library and the community change constantly. Board members should be aware of new trends and new methods in the library field. To stay informed, members should become active in the South Dakota Library Association (SDLA), and they should read selected professional publications, such as SDLA Bookmarks and American Libraries. In addition, the SD State Library publishes a newsletter blog Cornerstone which has an occasional Board Talk column from the state librarian. Other ways of keeping current are through participation in statewide and regional workshops and conferences. Visiting other libraries is yet another way to keep current, especially if the library to be visited has a successful project which can be examined. In addition to their own continuing education, the board is responsible for the continuing education of all library staff members. The board should provide adequate money in the budget for staff members to travel to workshops and other training programs.


Every trustee should be familiar with current and pending legislation relating to libraries at local, state and national levels. Trustees should express their opinions, both as individuals and as library board members, to their elected representatives in regard to any pending legislation which could benefit or adversely affect libraries.

Library Organizations

American Library Association (ALA)
The ALA represents librarians, trustees and interested citizens in the United States and Canada. The American Library Trustee Association is a division of ALA specifically organized for the purpose of discussing and handling problems which library trustees may encounter.

Mountain Plains Library Assocation (MPLA)
MPLA is made up of the following member states: South Dakota, Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming. MPLA's most important activities are the sharing of ideas and expertise throughout the area and the provision of opportunities for continuing education.

South Dakota Library Association (SDLA)
SDLA is an at home opportunity for the trustee to share ideas and knowledge with other South Dakota trustees and librarians. The association sponsors an annual conference and publishes Bookmarks, a monthly newsletter. Trustees may join the Public Library Section.

South Dakota State Library

The State Library is in existence to provide library service to all South Dakotans, largely through assistance to local public libraries. The State Library is open 8 am – 5 pm (CST) Monday – Friday. 1-800-423-6665 or 773-3131. Visit

Friends of the Library

Unlike the above organizations, the Friends of the Library group is a strictly local association of citizens interested in the improvement of your library. Friends participate in public relations programs and raise funds for extra services and equipment that cannot be provided through the regular library budget. In addition, Friends may provide volunteer help for special library projects. In the process, they gain a personal participation in their library. Library Staff and trustees should be encouraged to become members of the Friends group.

Library Foundation

Community Partnerships + Advocacy = A Public Library Foundation
By creating a Public Library Foundation (a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization) the library is taking an active step in building proactive community partnerships and vocal advocates for the library. A foundation is different from the traditional “Friends of the Library” efforts by involving non-library users as well as library patrons to increase awareness of library services and resources throughout the entire community. The non-profit status of a foundation provides a platform for raising money and support for current library services as well as securing a financial future for the library.
The two strongest reasons for a public library to have a foundation are advocacy and financial support.
Example of Newton Iowa foundation brochure
See the Friends and Foundations link for more information.

Interlibrary Cooperation

Library trustees should actively seek cooperation with other libraries to provide library service. The trustees' duty is not to build a library isolated from other libraries; but, rather, it is the trustees' duty to work in cooperation with other library agencies to provide the best possible library service for the people of their community.

Other resources

SD State Library Public Library listserv SDPUBLIB - for information relevant to public libraries in South Dakota