Building a Better Board Through Professional Development

Oct 13, 2016


Reprinted with permission from Library Strategies

Professional development is not just for library staff. Library, foundation, and Friends boards also should engage in regular, annual professional development activities. Some key professional development activities include:

  • Board Orientation – Certainly for all new members, but also may be valuable as refresher periodically for all board members.
  • Annual Training Activities – All board members should engage in at least one professional development activity annually. This can be done for the entire board, can involve attending a conference, attending pertinent trainings, participating in a webinar, or a host of other possibilities.
  • Board Evaluation – Having an annual board evaluation process, often a simple board survey, allows members to voice concerns or issues about how the board is operating. In turn, this allows board leadership to address issues, and move the board to being more effective and successful.
  • Understand the Roles of the Other Boards – For libraries with multiple affiliated boards, understanding the roles, responsibilities of the other boards is a fundamental part of good operations for each board. This should be reviewed periodically, but even better, having at least an annual joint meeting of all boards, can enhance the work of all of the boards.

There are many other ways for board members to engage in professional development. A few ideas include: having regular presentations by library staff at board meetings on library trends and issues; creating a structure to keep former board members attached through mentorship; thinking outside the library to explore issues in publishing, technology, finance, change management, governance, and more. A well-informed and trained board contributes to engagement by members and can dramatically improve board performance and success.

Find many professional development resources in the Wyoming Public Library Board Members’ Handbook and in the Wyoming State Library’s training resources. Questions about board issues? Contact Brian Greene, WSL Library Development Office Manager, at or (307) 777-6339.

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