Helpful Information for Meeting Minimum Public Library Standards

Prepared By The Library Development/Public Library System Directors Organization Minimum Standards Task Force

The University of the State of New York
State Education Department
New York State Library
Division of Library Development
June 1996; revised 2001, 2002

Table of Contents

Introduction

Helpful Information for Meeting:

STANDARD #1: WRITTEN BYLAWS

STANDARD #2: LONG-RANGE PLAN

STANDARD #3: REPORT TO THE COMMUNITY

STANDARD #4: WRITTEN POLICIES

STANDARD #5: WRITTEN BUDGET

STANDARD #6: EVALUATING EFFECTIVENESS

STANDARD #7: HOURS [Updated 11/21/02]

STANDARD #8: MAINTAINING A FACILITY TO MEET COMMUNITY NEEDS

STANDARD #9: EQUIPMENT [Updated 1/29/99]

STANDARD #10: PRINTED INFORMATION

STANDARD #11: PAID DIRECTOR

Regulation 90.2 of the Commissioner of Education: Standards for Registration of Public, Free Association and Indian Libraries

Introduction

The New York State Library Division of Library Development (LD)/Public Library System Directors Organization (PULISDO) Minimum Public Library Standards Task Team designed this publication, Helpful Information for Meeting Minimum Public Library Standards as a guide for librarians, trustees, and system personnel in understanding the why, what and how of each standard.

Success for all libraries, with improved service for customers, is one of the highest priorities of both the New York State Library Division of Library Development and PULISDO. This publication addresses how library boards and directors can achieve both the letter and the spirit of the minimum public library standards. The systems' educational programs are important in helping libraries reach this goal.

In November 1994, State Librarian Joseph F. Shubert formed the LD/PULISDO Task Team to develop helpful information to guide libraries in implementing the new minimum standards. Task Team members agreed early on that the Division of Library Development, the public library systems and libraries need to take an "educational approach" regarding the implementation of the standards. We believe that this publication and other products will assist libraries in meeting minimum standards and provide a framework for system staff in working directly with members.

If you have any questions about this publication or the actions of the Task Team, please contact any member of the LD/PULISDO Task Team. Suggestions for improvement of this publication may be sent to the LD/PULISDO Task Team, Division of Library Development, New York State Library, 10C47 Cultural Education Center, Albany, New York 12230.

Members of the Library Development/PULISDO Task Team

Mary Lou Caskey
Deborah H. Coover
Carol Ann Desch
Marilyn Douglas
James L. Farrell, Jr.
Karen Creenan (November-April)
David Karre
Judith L. Levine
Barbara Lilley
Patricia Mallon
Joseph J. Mattie
Sara McCain
Maureen Read
Joseph F. Shubert
Anne Simon
Fred Smith

HELPFUL INFORMATION FOR MEETING STANDARD #1: WRITTEN BYLAWS

Each . . . library is governed by written bylaws which outline the responsibilities and procedures of the library board of trustees;

WHY ARE BYLAWS NECESSARY?

Written bylaws clarify the rules by which the board of trustees operates. They set the procedures for the smooth running of board business. As membership on the board changes over time, specifics and agreements may be forgotten. Bylaws are essential to assuring continuity and preventing disagreements and misunderstandings. Bylaws need to be up-dated on a regular basis. A good rule of thumb is at least once every five years.

WHAT DO BYLAWS TYPICALLY CONTAIN?

Bylaws usually cover such items as: terms of office of trustees; officers and their duties; meeting frequency and rules (e.g., what is a quorum, order of business, filling vacancies on the board, etc.); committees (e.g., standing committees, how committee members are appointed, ad-hoc committee procedures, etc.); the library director; amendment procedures.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE BOARD'S BYLAWS AND THE LIBRARY'S CHARTER?

The bylaws are the rules and procedures by which the Board of Trustees functions. The charter is a legal document from the Board of Regents that incorporates the library, making it an education corporation that must meet certain standards of operation (see Registration, below). The bylaws must be consistent with the current charter, Education Law and the Education Commissioner's Regulations.

WHAT DOES THE CHARTER CONTAIN?

The charter typically covers such items as name and location of the education corporation (in this case, the library); the names of the board members at the time of incorporation; the date the Regents approved the charter; the number of trustees and the length of their terms. The charter may also include the library's service area; the IRS dissolution clause and amendments. To change any of these elements requires a charter amendment approved by the Board of Regents. They cannot be changed in the Board's bylaws.

WHAT IS REGISTRATION?

Registration, which is certified by the State Education Department, means the library meets the minimum standard requirements for its size and is thereby qualified to receive and hold public state and local tax funds.

WHERE CAN I GO FOR HELP?

Below is a typical example of library bylaws. Consult your system if you need further advice or assistance in developing bylaws. It would also be helpful for you to submit a copy of your bylaws to your system so they can be shared with others.

SAMPLE BYLAWS

Bylaws of the Library

Article I -- Tenure of Office of Trustees

  1. The term of office of trustees shall be years, and shall be limited to successive terms.

Article II -- Officers

  1. The officers of the Board shall be a President, a Vice-President, a Secretary, and a Treasurer.
  2. A nominating committee shall be appointed by the President two months prior to the end of the library year.
  3. Officers shall be elected at the last regular meeting of the library year by a majority vote of the Board.
  4. All officers shall have the usual powers associated with their office (or their duties may be specifically noted in the By-Laws).

Article III -- Meetings

  1. Regular meetings shall be held each month, at dates and times to be established by the Board at the beginning of the library year and shall be open to the public except when individual personnel issues are being discussed.
  2. Special meetings shall be held at the call of the President or any three trustees.
  3. A majority of the designated number of the Board shall constitute a quorum.
  4. The order of business shall be as follows:
    1. Roll call
    2. Approval of minutes of previous meeting
    3. Financial report and approval of expenditures
    4. Report of the Library Director
    5. Report of standing committees
    6. Report of special committees
    7. Nominations and elections, if any
    8. Correspondence and communications
    9. Unfinished business
    10. New business
    11. Adjournment
  5. Vacancies among the officers shall be filled at an election at a regular meeting, and a majority vote of the Trustees shall be necessary to an election.

Article IV -- Committees

  1. The following will be standing committees: Public Relations, Personnel, Buildings, Budget and Finance. These committees shall have all the usual powers associated with such committees.
  2. The President of the Board shall appoint all committee members.
  3. Ad hoc committees may be appointed by the President with the approval of the Board. Non-Board members may be appointed to such committees to bring special capabilities for the resolution of problems confronting the Committee.
  4. All committee actions are subject to approval by a majority of the Board.

Article V -- Library Director

  1. The Board shall appoint a qualified library director who shall be the executive and administrative officer of the library.
  2. The Director shall be held responsible for the proper performance of duties as spelled out in the job description provided by the Board.
  3. It shall be the duty of the Director to attend all meetings of the Board, including budget meetings, or public meetings where action may be taken affecting the interests of the Library. The Director shall have the rightto speak on all matters under discussion at Board meetings, but shall not have the right to vote thereon.

Article VI -- Amendments

  1. These By-Laws may be repealed, amended, or added to by a majority vote of the whole Board at a regular meeting. Such action may be taken, however, only after the substance of the proposed repeal, amendment, or addition has been presented in writing at a prior regular or special meeting, and notice thereof has been given in the notice of the meeting at which it is to be considered.

Adopted

Date

Revised

Date

HELPFUL INFORMATION FOR MEETING STANDARD #2: LONG-RANGE PLAN

Each . . . library has a board-approved, written long-range plan of service;

WHY IS A LONG-RANGE PLAN IMPORTANT FOR EVERY LIBRARY?

Every library needs a long-range plan as a formal document to:

  • Provide information about the community and library to use in decision-making;
  • Clarify for board, staff and community the role of the library in the community;
  • Evaluate the usefulness and quality of specific services and activities;
  • Assist in preparing for change (dropping old services or adding new ones);
  • Establish priorities for the allocation of resources;
  • Document the need for (better) funding.

WHAT IS A LONG-RANGE PLAN? DOES IT DIFFER FROM A STRATEGIC PLAN?

A long-range plan and a strategic plan both involve investigating the library's services in light of community needs and resources, evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of the library and the services the trustees and staff believe the library should or can provide, and creating a structured plan for providing the resources and direction for the "right" services for that community. A "strategic management plan" may have more emphasis on an analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) and more detailed budget forecasts based on revenue projections.

WHAT IS THE PROCESS FOR LONG-RANGE PLANNING?

The way a library moves through its planning process is as important as the plan itself. The planning process helps raise the community's awareness of library programs, services and needs and gains library support from the community.

The long-range planning process is a cyclical one. While there are a variety of ways to develop a long-range plan, a successful planning process often includes the following steps:

  • Gather information about, and analyze the "environment" inside and outside the library. Such information may include:
    • External Environment:
      • Economic factors
      • Community demographics
      • Political factors
      • Needs of the community
    • Internal Library Environment:
      • Current budget
      • Current staffing
      • Administrative issues
      • Current technology
  • Develop a vision statement that describes what the library will "look" like in the future. (A vision statement can encompass a given time period like five to ten years, or be an ideal without reference to time period.)
  • Decide on the goals that will move the library towards its vision.
  • Decide on objectives for those goals. Make sure each objective is
    • measurable; and
    • realistic
  • Identify specific action steps that will be needed to meet the objectives. Be sure these activities can be achieved in the defined periods.
  • Develop a process for evaluating whether or not the library is reaching its objectives.
  • Have the Board of Trustees formally adopt the plan.
  • Evaluate how well the plan is working

And then begin again with a new examination of the environment, inside and outside the library, etc.

WHO PARTICIPATES IN THE PROCESS?

Many people should be involved in the planning process in addition to the library director and the board of trustees. These may include: one or two key staff members; library users, and representatives of business, education, government, or other key community groups. (Tip: One way of involving the community is through the information- gathering stage of the plan. For example, use focus groups of community members, or community surveys that ask people to identify ways the library can meet community needs.) Public library system consultants or, in larger libraries, consultants under contract, may also advise or otherwise assist with the process.

WHAT ARE THE ELEMENTS OF A BASIC LONG-RANGE PLAN?

  • Vision statement for the library
  • Mission statement and selection of library service role(s)
  • Goals related to the mission and role(s)
  • Measurable objectives which will help achieve the goals
  • Specific action steps which include:
    • Timetable for completion
    • Individuals responsible for each activity
  • A basic budgetary process for identifying and securing adequate funds
  • A process for evaluating success
  • A process and timetable for regular review and revision
  • Identification of the planning committee

HOW MANY YEARS SHOULD A LONG-RANGE PLAN COVER?

Typical plans are for 3 to 5 years. Although most libraries will want to use a long-range plan to set direction for an extended period, they will probably limit detailed planning to a shorter period, perhaps two or three years. Although every library board should take into consideration continuous development for the library and the opportunities presented by the electronic information environment, they should set objectives and plan activities which, with a reasonable amount of effort, the library and community can achieve in the identified time period.

HOW DO WE USE THE PLAN?

Often, long-range plans are used to develop a yearly "Action Plan" which is an outgrowth of the direction and choices made in the longer range plan. Persons with responsibility for tasks within the plan work on these assignments according to the timeline in the plan. Staff and trustees review the entire plan for action and accomplishments according to the a schedule provided in the plan. Many institutions use a "rolling" process in which one year is "added" or revised when the current year is completed (or nearly completed).

WHERE CAN I GO FOR HELP?

Consult your library system for examples of different types of plans, as well as other assistance you may need. It would also be helpful for you to submit a copy of your plan to your system so it can be shared with others.

HELPFUL INFORMATION FOR MEETING STANDARD #3: REPORT TO THE COMMUNITY

Each . . . library presents an annual report to the community on the library's progress in meeting its goals and objectives.

WHY PRESENT AN ANNUAL REPORT TO THE COMMUNITY?

An annual report:

  1. Provides an opportunity to report on progress in meeting the library's goals and objectives as identified in the board's long-range plan.
  2. Gives to board and staff an opportunity to review the past year's activities.
  3. Provides an opportunity to inform the community at large of the library's activities.
  4. Offers an opportunity for publicity and promotion of the library with public officials and other funding sources.
  5. Furnishes accountability to community and funding sources.

WHO IS YOUR AUDIENCE?

  • Customers, general public
  • Board members, staff, Friends of the Library
  • Public and elected officials (local, State and national)
  • Media (print and electronic)
  • Current and potential funding sources (local, regional and national)

WHAT SHOULD THE REPORT INCLUDE?

  • Some reminder of the library's goals and objectives (the board's long-range plan).
  • Statistics that give a quantitative picture of the library's activities (e.g., number of people who visit the library, circulation, interlibrary loans, programs, in-library use, number of registered borrowers, number of people who receive outreach services.)
  • Noteworthy grants, fund raising events, or capital programs that the library undertook.
  • Highlights of some of the most impressive programs and activities. (Tip: use pictures to convey success of the programs. Pictures of kids always go well.)
  • Honors that the Director, staff members or trustees may have earned during the year that are relevant to library service. (e.g., New York Library Association awards, community awards, degrees earned, promotions.)
  • How to contact the library: Director's name and phone number and board president's name and number.

WHAT FORMATS AND MEANS OF DISTRIBUTION ARE USEFUL?

  • Written Report distributed internally among board and staff. Multiple copies available in the library for customers. Don't forget the library's support base.
  • Short versions of the report could be done in bookmark format and made available to all.
  • News Release to appropriate newsletters, penny-savers and newspapers (Tip: let the widest distribution help spread the word of the great services and resources. Great public relations opportunity!)
  • Hand deliver reports to the movers & shakers of the community encouraging their endorsement and support for the library. (e.g., Chief of Police, Fire Chief, Mayor, presidents of clubs, etc.) Support from influential members of the community who have no relationship to the library will carry greater weight with your funding sources than support from trustees and Friends of the Library.
  • Written report with photos sent individually to local officials, county and state public officials as well as private contributors and benefactors, current and potential. (Tip: this will strengthen the library's case for funding!)
  • Copies to neighboring libraries to foster cooperation and idea sharing.
  • Oral presentation given to electronic media (radio and TV), and/or at village or town boards.

Other ideas are also possible. At the minimum, choose one that allows for the widest distribution. It's so important to keep the library's story before thepublic! Don't be afraid to use it in several ways! You may wish to produce different versions for different audiences.

WHERE CAN I GO FOR HELP?

Consult your library system for examples of different types of community reports, as well as other assistance you may need. It would also be helpful for you to submit a copy of your community report to your system so it can be shared with others.

HELPFUL INFORMATION FOR MEETING STANDARD #4: WRITTEN POLICIES

Each ...library has board-approved written policies for the operation of the library.

WHY ARE WRITTEN POLICIES NECESSARY?

  • Clearly formulated policies enable the board, library director, and staff to provide quality service to the community.
  • Staff need a framework of consistent policies for the smooth day-to-day operation of the library.
  • Customers need to know that they are being treated equally and fairly.
  • Boards with clear, well thought-out policies based on good professional, legal and management principles encounter less staff turnover, crises, bad public relations and law suits.
  • Written policies help ensure consistency and fairness.

HOW ARE POLICIES DEVELOPED?

In general, policies should be clear and concise, legal and fair. They should be developed by the director and staff with board involvement and approval, and revised on a regular basis, every 2-3 years or sooner if necessary.

It's a good idea to start with a sample and then adapt it to your specific library's needs. Contact your library system for sample policies.

The Board can appoint an ad hoc committee made of some board members, the director and a staff member or two to work on policies. Some libraries have the director develop the policies and the board reviews and approves them. It is important that the Director and staff have input since they are familiar with the day-to-day operations of the library.

As the library staff and board develop the policies, the Americans with Disabilities Act must be taken into consideration. It is also a good idea to let the library attorney review the policies to be sure that no laws have been inadvertently violated.

WHAT POLICIES SHOULD A LIBRARY HAVE?

Personnel policies are absolutely necessary for the smooth operation of any organization. Whether it has many employees or only one, every library should have a complete personnel policy manual for its staff.

A suggested list of policies follows. Contact your system for specific examples.

SUGGESTED LIST OF POLICIES

It is recommended that boards adopt the following standard ALA policies:

  • Library Bill of Rights
  • Confidentiality of Library Records
  • Free Access to Libraries for Minors: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights
  • Freedom to Read Statement
  • Freedom to View Statement

Boards and directors should develop policies which cover:

  • Censorship
  • Circulation
  • Collection Development and Maintenance
  • Emergencies
  • Exhibits and Displays
  • Finances
  • Gifts and Special Collections
  • Harassment
  • Hours Open
  • Interlibrary and Interagency Cooperation
  • Internet and other technology issues
  • Materials Selection
  • Patron Complaints
  • Personnel (See next section)
  • Programming
  • Public Relations
  • Rules of Conduct for Library Users
  • Services for Nonresident Borrowers
  • Substance Abuse (by customers and staff)
  • Use of Library Meeting Rooms and Equipment

Personnel policies, at a minimum, should cover the following items:

  • Benefits
  • Equal Employment Opportunity
  • Personnel Procedures (e.g., Grievance, evaluation, promotion, retirement, etc.)
  • Salaries, Position, Classification
  • Schedules, Hours
  • Staff Development, Continuing Education
  • Vacation and Leave

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, all libraries must have a written plan for how the library will serve people with all kinds of disabilities.

WHERE CAN I GO FOR HELP?

Your library system has forms and samples of many of these policies. Contact your library system for these or any other assistance you may need.

HELPFUL INFORMATION FOR MEETING STANDARD #5: WRITTEN BUDGET

Each . . . library presents annually to appropriate funding agencies a written budget which would enable the library to meet or exceed these standards and to carry out its long-range plan of service;

WHY IS A WRITTEN BUDGET NECESSARY?

A written budget presented to local funding agencies is a basic requirement to ensure fiscal accountability. It also helps get the funds needed to provide service. Since the public library board of trustees has ultimate responsibility for obtaining funds and spending them wisely to carry out the library's program of services, it is the board's responsibility to ensure that fiscal management practices best meet the needs of the library, the community and the public.

The budget presentation can also be useful for library advocacy. A well documented and well prepared presentation will help show local funding authorities the importance of the library in the community.

WHO SHOULD PREPARE THE BUDGET?

Preparation of the budget should be a joint project of the board of trustees and the library director, with input from appropriate staff.

WHAT ARE APPROPRIATE FUNDING AGENCIES?

"Appropriate funding agencies" are any public organizations that provide operating funds to the library: counties, towns, villages, cities, school districts or special districts. In addition the library may also want to present its budget to other potential sources of funding -- both public and private.

WHAT SHOULD THE BUDGET INCLUDE?

Budget format and fiscal year may differ among libraries based on the requirements of sponsoring agencies but all library budgets have some common elements:

  • Indicate the resources that will be needed to meet the library's goals and objectives within a certain period of time.
  • Base income and expenditure figures on past experience and anticipated change, while taking into consideration the long-range plan for development. The budget should be realistic, striking a balance between being a wish list and too conservative.
  • Present sufficient expenditure allocations to meet the information and service needs of the community and legal requirements, including the minimum public library standards.

HELPFUL INFORMATION FOR MEETING STANDARD #6: EVALUATING EFFECTIVENESS

Each ... library periodically evaluates the effectiveness of the library's collection and services in meeting community needs;

WHAT IS EVALUATION?

Evaluation is the systematic and ongoing assessment of an organization's progress and success in fulfilling its mission, using a variety of qualitative and quantitative measurement techniques.

WHY IS EVALUATION ESSENTIAL?

Planning is a process -- not a goal. Evaluation is a critical part of the process. In order to meet community needs effectively, ongoing evaluation is necessary. Some evaluative efforts will be more comprehensive than others, depending on what the library needs to know. For example, evaluation of a meeting or workshop may involve a brief discussion at the end of the meeting or be a more formal written evaluation by participants immediately following the event. Meaningful long-term change may involve follow-up interviews at a later date. Evaluation includes asking our customers how we are doing, and looking beyond our current customers into the community at large to see what needs are not being met and why some potential users are not yet involved in the library.

HOW DO WE GO ABOUT EVALUATION?

After a library has decided that evaluation is an important part of meeting its mission, goals and objectives, the process of choosing the most effective evaluation tool begins.

Questions a library might ask to facilitate assessing how it is doing include:

  • What do we wish to evaluate, and why?
  • What level of performance do we want to achieve?
  • Which investigative technique will work best?
  • How will we actually measure the performance level?
  • Did we do what we promised to do; to what extent did we meet our objectives?

There are three categories of evaluation tools:

  • Quantitative measures (statistical packages are available to assist libraries)
  • Qualitative measures (focus groups, individual interviews, observation)
  • User Surveys of current and potential users (a number of examples are available)

In addition, these measures fit into categories of areas to be evaluated. Most evaluations focus on one or two areas - not everything at one time. Some will be more relevant than others, depending on what your library wishes to learn. They include:

  • Inputs -- staff, materials
  • Outputs -- circulation, visits, programs
  • Internal processes -- efficiency, staff helpfulness
  • Community fit -- public opinion
  • Access to materials -- speed of delivery, hours, charges, fees
  • Physical facility -- building appeal, parking, location
  • Management elements -- both board and staff activities
  • Service offerings -- range, variety
  • Service to special groups -- youth, homebound, aged, those with handicapping conditions

Although the area traditionally identified as most important to users is the library's service offerings, other areas may need to be the focus for any particular evaluation cycle.

As with other parts of any planning process, the evaluation results should be widely disseminated and used as a chance to gain publicity needed to achieve a higher level of effectiveness. Responsibilities should be clearly laid out, timelines set, and tasks completed.

WHAT IS THE BOTTOM LINE FOR A PUBLIC LIBRARY IN ORDER TO MEET THIS STANDARD?

To meet this standard, a library should be able to demonstrate that it queried its community, developed service objectives based on community need and evaluated the results of those objectives. The library also needs to demonstrate that action was taken to incorporate the results in the library's planning process. It is not enough to set a questionnaire on the circulation desk for the occasional curious customer to pick up. There should be an organized effort to determine community needs, and then to evaluate how well the library is meeting those needs through its collection and services.

WHERE CAN WE GO FOR HELP?

Consult your system for further assistance. In addition to staff expertise, there are a number of manuals and other materials which the system can share with your library.

HELPFUL INFORMATION FOR MEETING STANDARD #7: HOURS

Each . . . library in New York State is open the following scheduled hours:

Population

Minimum Weekly
Hours Open

Up to 500

12

500-2,499

20

2,500-4,999

25

5,000-14,999

35

15,000-24,999

40

25,000-99,999

55

100,000 and above

60

WHY ARE MINIMUM WEEKLY HOURS IMPORTANT?

A good library is accessible to the community. Standard 7 requires that each public or free association library be open a fixed schedule of minimum weekly hours open on a 52-week basis. The minimum number of weekly hours open is linked to the size of the population the library is chartered to serve. Minimum weekly hours open means the fewest number of hours the library is open to the public every week during the year.

Many public libraries exceed these standards because the community, library board and library staff recognize that the number of hours of public service leads to greater service to and use by the public. While libraries may consider expanding public service hours during some parts of the year to meet increased customer needs, Standard 7 requires that each library also maintain the fixed schedule of minimum weekly hours open on a 52-week basis.

The library should post the days and the hours when the library is open in a prominent location and include hours open in printed information describing the library and its services.

Some communities, such as summer resorts, experience a large influx of population for a part of the year. Although not required, resort community libraries should consider expanding public service hours to meet increased customer needs during these times.

WHAT ABOUT EVENINGS, WEEKENDS AND HOLIDAYS?

Library hours should include morning, afternoon, evening and weekend hours based on actual and potential customer needs. The standards do not require a library to open on legal holidays or Sundays. In a week where a portion of the library's fixed schedule of minimum weekly hours open falls on a legal holiday, the library may fall below the minimum weekly hours open requirement for that particular week.

HOW DOES A LIBRARY COUNT THE HOURS IF IT HAS BRANCHES?

Minimum weekly hours open means the fewest number of hours the library is open to the public every week during the year. A library with more than one service outlet may use the total non-overlapping hours of all the library's service outlets to meet the minimum weekly hours open requirement. Libraries should try to schedule different hours of service at outlets if possible.

WHERE CAN I GO FOR HELP?

Consult your system for help in analyzing user needs and deciding the hours that best meet varying customer needs.

HELPFUL INFORMATION FOR MEETING STANDARD #8: MAINTAINING A FACILITY TO MEET COMMUNITY NEEDS

Each...library maintains a facility to meet community needs, including adequate space, lighting, shelving, seating and restroom.

HOW DO WE DETERMINE IF OUR FACILITY IS ADEQUATE?

Various publications provide helpful "rules of thumb" or "standards" for the number of seats, shelving, or meeting room facilities needed by communities of varying sizes. (Although it is old, the Anders Dahlgren pamphlet, "Planning the Small Public Library" listed at the end of this section, has both such "rules of thumb" and a good introduction to library building planning.) As important, there are books and articles that help librarians and trustees evaluate and plan for the improvement of their libraries. Some of these focus on such important matters as compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and environmental regulations (such as asbestos and lead abatement).

Building experts would first ask the library director and board, "what are the goals and service plans of the Library?" General services planning precedes facilities planning because it defines the users, services, and programs of the library. Once these plans are defined, the board, director and others can better decide on space needs, layout, and technical specifications such as wiring for technology.

  • A long-range plan with clearly articulated mission statement, goals, objectives and an action plan provides a basis for evaluating whether or not a library has a facility which adequately meets community needs.
  • The planning and evaluation process should involve input from staff, members of the community or communities served (including people with physical disabilities) and the board, and be conducted in an open, well-publicized manner. This ensures that those paying for and residing in the service area will have a say in, and take ownership of, their library facility. The library may find it useful to hire a consultant to assist with the facility plan.
  • Care must be taken to provide for a facility which is accessible to the entire community.
  • Where legal mandates -- whether local, State, or Federal -- exist, it is the responsibility of the library to be aware of and comply with those requirements.
  • Associations such as the Eastern Paralyzed Veterans offer free help and expertise, as do local code enforcement officers.

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE BOARD HAS A PLAN?

  • If funds and community support are needed to implement a facility plan, the plan should be widely disseminated and used to gain public understanding.
  • Responsibilities should be clearly laid out, timelines set, and tasks completed.

WHERE CAN I GO FOR HELP?

There are a number of useful materials to guide the library in meeting this standard. The following are highly recommended.

  • Accessible Building Design, Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association, Jackson Heights, New York, no publication date. Call 1-800-444-0120.
  • Designing Better Libraries: selecting and working with building professionals, Richard C. McCarthy, A.I.A., Highsmith, 1995.
  • Planning the Small Public Library Building, Small Libraries Publication No. 11, Anders Dahlgren, LAMA/ALA, 1985.
  • Public Library Space Needs; a planning outline, Anders C. Dahlgren. Wisconsin
  • Department of Public Instruction, 1988.
  • Serving the Disabled; a how-to-do-it manual for librarians, Keith C. Wright and Judith F. Davie. Neal-Schuman, 1991.

Each public library system has a construction plan as part of its responsibility in administering part of the state construction aid. Your system, therefore, is likely to have additional information materials, advice, and suggestions for evaluating and planning facilities.

HELPFUL INFORMATION FOR MEETING STANDARD #9: EQUIPMENT

Each . . . library provides equipment and connections to meet community needs including, but not limited to telephone, photocopier, telefacsimile capability, and microcomputer or terminal with printer to provide access to other library catalogs and other electronic information.

WHY HAVE A TELEPHONE, PHOTOCOPIER, MICROCOMPUTER AND OTHER EQUIPMENT IN THE LIBRARY?

This standard identifies several types of equipment a library needs to enable patrons and staff to access and use information. The principle behind Standard 9 is that New Yorkers of all ages should have access to the information they need in a variety of formats, and modern technologies can facilitate this goal. The equipment identified in Standard 9 should help Library staff provide a wider range of library service in a more timely, effective manner and allow library users access to electronic resources.

  1. Telephone -- A telephone at the library, listed in the library's name and widely publicized, enables communication/telecommunication with patrons and other libraries, and provides communication in case of emergency.
  2. Photocopier -- A photocopier expands the library's resources, helps preserve library materials from damage or theft, saves time for library patrons, and allows the library to participate more fully in resource sharing.
  3. Microcomputer or terminal with printer -- A microcomputer or terminal with printer that is linked by telecommunications with outside institutions and databases alows the library to participate in electronic communications, resources sharing and information services. Additional benefits include capability to create electronic spreadsheets, word processing documents, and other documents now an integral part of modern business and institutional practice.
  4. Telefacsimile Machine or Capability -- To facilitate the electronic transfer of information such as interlibrary loans, either a telefacsimile machine of at least "Group 3" quality, or comparable telefaxing capability (such as a personal computer with a telefaxing feature) is needed. (Such equipment need not be made available for use by the public.)

WHERE CAN I GO FOR HELP?

If you have questions regarding this standard, contact your library system.

HELPFUL INFORMATION FOR MEETING STANDARD #10: PRINTED INFORMATION

Each . . . library distributes printed information listing the library's hours open, borrowing rules, services, location and phone number.

WHY HAVE PRINTED INFORMATION ABOUT THE LIBRARY?

Providing printed information that describes the library and explains the services offered in an attractively produced format such as a brochure or bookmark is an essential element of a good public relations program.

WHAT TYPES OF INFORMATION SHOULD BE INCLUDED?

The library's printed information should include, at a minimum, the following elements:

  • library name
  • library street address
  • library telephone number, telefacsimile number and e-mail address
  • listing of the days and the hours when the library is open to the public
  • brief description of the library (e.g., roles, mission)
  • listing of the services offered to the public and who is eligible to use them (e.g., interlibrary loan, reserves, extended vacation loans, community rooms, photocopying, story hours and other programs, public access microcomputers)
  • explanation of the library's borrowing rules:
    • who is eligible for a library card?
    • length of loan for major categories of library materials?
    • policies on overdues, fines and fees?

In addition to printed information, the library should also have a scheduled program of announcements for newspaper, television, and radio and utilize public service announcements. Build the image of the library as a proactive and vital community service by keeping the community informed of ongoing programs and services.

WHAT FORMATS AND MEANS OF DISTRIBUTION ARE ACCEPTABLE?

A library should have an active, ongoing planned and coordinated approach to public relations if it is going to fulfill its mission. An attractively produced brochure or bookmark is a basic element of such a program. This brochure or bookmark should be updated regularly and available for distribution in the library. Library staff should ensure that each new borrower receives a copy. Copies may also be placed in public places in the community.

Public information materials do not need to be expensive or elaborate. Concise, clear information about the library is most likely to be useful. An appealing, neat format is easier to understand. A positive and friendly tone (rather than a listing of what is not allowed, for example) creates an impression that the library is service-oriented. Printed and other information should create an image of the library as a community institution that welcomes and encourages community residents to make full use of library facilities, materials and services.

Library staff, board members and members of the Friends' group may use the library's printed information when telling community groups and government officials about the library and its services. Some library staff work closely with local community groups and/or realtor associations to distribute information about the library as new families are welcomed to the community. Your residents are voters and taxpayers and deserve to be informed about this valuable tax-supported service.

WHERE CAN I GO FOR HELP?

Consult your library system for examples of different types of plans, as well as other assistance you may need. It would also be helpful for you to submit a copy of your plan to your system so it can be shared with others.

HELPFUL INFORMATION FOR MEETING STANDARD #11: PAID DIRECTOR

Each . . . library employs a paid director in accordance with the provisions of Section 90.8 of this Part.

WHY HAVE A PAID DIRECTOR?

A good library is staffed by competent, well-trained personnel so that it can guarantee effective and quality library service to the community. One of a good library's most important assets is the library director. The library director is responsible, among other things, for working with the library board, the library staff and residents of the community to assess library service needs, planning for library services to meet those needs, and administering the day-to-day delivery of quality library service to the community.

While volunteers are helpful in extending the services a library is able to offer the community, the library director, even in the smallest of libraries, should be paid a salary in return for delivering consistent, quality public service.

The board should offer a salary, hours and benefits comparable with other positions in the community requiring similar educational preparation and job assignments.

WHAT ARE THE PROVISIONS OF COMMISSIONER'S REGULATION 90.8?

Commissioner's Regulation (CR) 90.8 addresses the appointment of library personnel in public, free association and Indian libraries on or after May 19, 1975. The provisions of CR 90.8 in relation to the director are summarized on the following page:

Population Served By Library System Member Required Education Level for Director
0 to 2,499 Yes None.
2,500 to 4,999 Yes At least two academic years of full-time study in an approved college or university, or its equivalent.
5,000 to 7,499 Yes A bachelor's degree, or its equivalent.
7,500 or more Yes A graduate library degree from a library school program which is accredited by the American Library Association or from a library school located within New York State which is registered by the State Education Department, and which entitles the holder to a public librarian's professional certificate.1

1 Please contact Library Development for more information on provisional certificates, conditional certificates and certificates of qualification which may qualify a person to hold a position as director.

WHAT IS THE BOARD'S RESPONSIBILITY IN MEETING THIS STANDARD?

Even though incumbent directors who did not meet the educational qualifications as of May 19, 1975, are exempted by regulation from meeting the educational requirements of CR 90.8, the library board still must meet the requirements of CR 90.2 and employ a paid director on or before January 1, 1999.

The board should pay the director a salary commensurate with the education and experience level required for the position. Benefits should include some health insurance coverage, provision for sick leave, and paid vacation. Other benefits, such as paid personal leave, retirement plans, investment plans may also be offered in addition to a salary. The board is responsible for ensuring that an accurate accounting of supplemental benefits is kept for each employee for tax reporting purposes.

CR 90.2 does not specify the number of hours that the paid director must be employed. However, the board should hire a director for a sufficient number of hours to adequately administer the library. For libraries open less than 35 hours a week, this probably means employing a paid director for at least the number of hours that the library facility is open to the public.

In addition to a competitive salary and benefits, continuing education for staff development is essential for the director. In fact, continuing education is important for all library staff, not just the director. The board should make continuing education a priority and allocate funds necessary in the budget. Opportunities in the form of conferences, and released time for the continuing education and professional enrichment of the staff, including attendance at systems workshops, local, state and national conferences, should be encouraged by trustees.

WHERE CAN I GO FOR HELP?

Consult your library system for assistance.

See also:
Last Updated: January 13, 2010 -- asm