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Trustee Training: Governance, Effective Meetings & Community Engagement

In April, the Southeast Districts hosted two Multi-District Trustee Workshops.

The first, Board’s Role: Governance and Effective Meetings, was presented by Michael Kumer, Principal of Boards MTO.

Kumer spoke on the role of boards and individual board members and the responsibilities boards have to the communities served by their library. He provided a framework for attendees to understand fiduciary responsibilities and stressed the importance of long-term planning to governance. Kumer also gave attendees guidelines for determining conflicts of interest.

High performing boards create the future. They don’t focus on the past, Kumer advised. As future-based thinking begins with effective board meetings, Kumer offered suggestions for moving beyond “report-based” board meetings to “discussion-based” meetings, where members break into teams to address specific questions or topics. He stressed the importance of measuring progress toward goals at regular intervals.

The second workshop, Community Engagement: Good Leaders Build Great Relationships, was presented by John Chrastka, Executive Director of EveryLibrary.

Chrastka offered concrete steps to help trustees and library staff build relationships with community partners. This included approaches to target specific audiences, including stakeholders, the public, and leaders of organizations and agencies. He discussed language attendees could use to engage community members and offered tips for sparking conversation.

It is vital for libraries to get out into the communities they serve, Chrastka stated. He advised attendees to identify community leaders and meet them for coffee. From these initial meetings, libraries can begin to build partnerships with educational, social/welfare, religious, governmental, civic, and business organizations. Libraries should also build relationships with local media and representatives.

Chrastka also stressed humanizing the library by introducing staff to the public. An easy way to do this, he said, is to feature staff on social media.

Both workshops were made possible, in part, by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences as administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Education through the Office of Commonwealth Libraries, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf, Governor.

submitted by:
Regina Fried
Marketing and Public Relations Specialist
Bucks County Free Library

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