A full house of library trustees and staff greeted David Bendekovic , founder of the B.A. David Company, on June 8, 2019 for “Great People Make Great Libraries,” a multi-district workshop hosted by the Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia County Districts.
Geared toward helping individuals master the job of Library Trustee, the workshop covered a wide range of topics including leadership, legal and operational oversight, and board mechanics.
The first part of the workshop focused on the differences between leaders and managers and the evolving role of libraries in modern society. Bendekovic sees this as an exciting time for libraries, noting how libraries are moving away from being strictly physical spaces with a primary use of housing collections to physical and virtual spaces that serve as places “for people engagement.” He noted that library staff are transitioning from “keepers of knowledge and information” to “facilitators and teachers of skills.”
Strong libraries can successfully manage these transitions, but they can’t thrive unless they have dedicated, engaged trustees who are actively involved in their communities, work well with other board members, are open, and understand the issues facing libraries and their communities.
The primary responsibility of a Library Trustee, Bendekovic noted, is the well-being of the library, and the most important task Trustees have is the hiring and evaluation of the Library Director.
It was clear that attendees had a lot of questions about legal and operational oversight, subjects that were covered in the latter part of the workshop. A few attendees mentioned how they began their Board work with little or no training or onboarding and wondered how they could ever understand everything that was legally required of them.
Key takeaways from this portion of the workshop included understanding the importance of the Library Corporate Records Notebook and the need for Trustees to have a familiarity with all pertinent laws. Attendees suggested that Boards create a Trustee Manual containing important information, as well as an orientation process for new Trustees. Another suggestion was that libraries post their Board Meeting minutes online for users to view.
Attendees left the workshop with great ideas to put into action, renewed enthusiasm for their work, and a helpful handout, “Leadership by Design,” that listed the most important points covered by the workshop.
The workshop was made possible by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services as administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Education through the Office of Commonwealth Libraries, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf, Governor.
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