Category Archives: Trustees and Foundations

Good Governance: By the Bylaws

Reposted and adapted from the Colorado Virtual Library
By Crystal Schimpf: Published on

Bylaws are one of several types of governing documents used by nonprofits, corporations, associations, societies, and governments. They are an essential set of rules that any organization must have in order to ensure consistency and fairness in the way the organization functions. Bylaws are one layer of “rules” for how the organization will regulate its own existence. Other important governing documents include the establishment documents (articles of incorporation, ordinance, or resolution), policy manuals, and procedural handbooks.

Bylaws regulate the way the board functions in order to provide good governance for the public library.  The bylaws are the rules for how the board will function in meetings, when voting on library business, and as community leaders appointed as library trustees.

Whether revising your organization’s bylaws, or adopting bylaws for the first time, here are some things to take into consideration.

  • Check with your parliamentary authority (e.g. Robert’s Rules of Order) for details on what articles and statements should be included in bylaws. Adjust these as needed to what is appropriate for your library board, keeping in mind that parliamentary authority is also utilized by large assemblies and member organizations.
  • Verify that the requirements of Wyoming Statute are addressed, including but not limited to, rules and regulations for the conducting of meetings, rules for public participation, and length and limits of board member terms. (See Wyoming Library Laws.)
  • Be careful not to supersede other Wyoming state laws or local ordinances, including open meeting requirements.
  • Avoid including procedural details in the bylaws, or any detail that might need to change frequently. Procedural information can be included in a board handbook or other procedural document that can be updated more frequently.
  • Avoid duplication of information. Consider if some details are more appropriate for a separate governance document (e.g. fiscal policy), or if it is already included in board approved planning documents (e.g. strategic plan).
  • When possible, have your library’s legal counsel review significant changes to the bylaws before approving and adopting.

For additional information on bylaws, take a look at these resources:

Original article by Crystal Schimpf,  Public Library Specialist, Leadership & Community Development at Colorado State Library.

Disaster Planning for Libraries

The current pandemic may have you thinking of emergency preparedness in general, not just for this crisis. Right now it’s Coronavirus (and you can find resources on that here), but there are many types of disasters that can affect your library and community — floods, fires, weather disasters, shootings, and more. Do you and your staff know what to do in the event the worst happens? Your library needs to have a solid plan for disasters and emergencies of all types. Fortunately, you have resources available.

The Idaho Commission for Libraries has put out a good article on “Disaster Planning for Libraries and Library Users: Making a Difference During Difficult Times” that offers some basics.

The New Jersey State Library has put together a great set of resources on their Disaster Preparedness & Recovery page. It includes their Librarian’s Disaster Planning and Community Resiliency Guidebook and Workbook, presentations, webinars, links, and more.

The Colorado State Library is offering a free CSL in session webinar, “Disaster Planning and Assistance for Libraries,” on Thursday, March 26 from 12-1 p.m. In this interactive webinar, the Colorado Cultural and Historic Resources Task Force  members will offer guidance on how to create and use a disaster plan, partner with first responders, and protect your collections from damage. The assistance part of it may be more Colorado-centric, but know that in Wyoming, you can always contact the Wyoming State Library’s Library Development Office for help in a crisis.

The Wyoming State Library has a collection of professional library science materials available to you. Here is our recommended reading list from the WSL shelves:

And in the meantime, if you want good information on how to handle the current health crisis, remember that we will be continually updating our Guide to COVID-19 for Libraries to ensure that you have the resources you need to keep your staff and patrons safe and informed.

Tips for Public Library Policy Development

Reposted from the Colorado Virtual Library’s Trustee Corner

Are you looking to develop new policies (or revise existing policies) in 2020? The Loveland Public Library shared tips for public library policy development which they gained in 2019 after completing a full update of their policy manual. The first tip they shared is to identify stakeholders.

Get the right voices at the table to make sure that you have objective input from key groups. This should include your library board, staff members from different roles in the organization and your legal representative. Board members provide critical perspective as representatives of the public and can positively guide the process from the start by keeping community needs foremost in mind.

For more tips and detailed suggestions, read the full blog post written by Amber Greene and Susan Kadlec.

Signs Your Library Policies Need Revision

How do you know when it is time to review and revise your existing policies? Maybe laws have changed, or current policies no longer reflect library operations. Perhaps your library policies are old and outdated, or for some issues they simply haven’t been created yet.

Library CEO Amie Pilla (Berthoud Community Library District) shared six signs that your library policies need to be updated, as well as a few tips for what to do about it. Read the full blog post for the complete list.

Policy Development Resources

Wyoming library directors and trustees are welcome to contact the Wyoming State Library’s Library Development Office for assistance with policy resources.

5 Alternatives to a Fundraising Gala

When we think of a fundraising event, a fancy night out often comes to mind. But is it the most effective way to raise money for your library? Once you calculate the costs, it might have been better to focus your efforts elsewhere.

On their blog, CauseVox suggests five alternatives to a gala:

  1. Hold a community marketplace
  2. Go live on social media
  3. Organize at-home fundraising dinners
  4. Host a game night
  5. Try an UnGala

Read the full post for details and see if one of these ideas might work in your community.


Tidbits from the Trustee Corner

The Trustee Corner from the Colorado Virtual Library is a monthly series featuring information of interest to public library boards. This information from their October 2019 issue was written by Crystal Schimpf, Public Library Specialist, Leadership & Community Development at Colorado State Library.

Trustees play an essential role in shaping the public image of the library and being a positive influencer in the community. Keep reading for tips, resources, and library news that will inspire you to become an even better advocate for your library.

Cultivating Local Notables

Who else in your community might be good advocates for the library? The Cultivating Local Notables Toolkit from the American Library Association (ALA) provides tips and guidance on how to identify well-known community members and ask for their help with library advocacy efforts.

Palaces for the People

Public libraries are an essential part of social infrastructure. Sociologist Eric Klinenberg writes about the importance of libraries in healthy communities in his book Palaces for the People. In December 2018, Eric spoke to librarians of the New York Public Library in a live interview, which you can listen to in The Librarian is In podcast, episode 121.

Tips for Trustees: Community Engagement

Interested in ideas for how to be better engaged as a library advocate in your community? Review these tips taken from the Colorado Public Library Board & Trustees Pocket Handbook.

The effective trustee will:

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  • Understand and be able to articulate the library’s mission.
  • Be familiar with and support the library services and programs.
  • Keep the lines of communication open between the trustees, the director, the community, and local government officials.
  • Foster community involvement with the library.
  • Maintain a positive relationship with the Friends of the Library and/or Library Foundation.
  • Never miss an opportunity/occasion to build goodwill for the library.

Trustee Trouble: Advocacy

Being a community advocate for the library isn’t easy. To learn about some of the challenges and pitfalls, watch the short video Trustee Trouble: Advocacy created by the Wyoming State Library.

ALA Trustee Citation

Does your library have trustee who deserves recognition at the national level? The Trustee Citation is an award given by the American Library Association (ALA) to recognize public library Trustees for distinguished service to library development. The winner will be honored at the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago in June 2020. Submit an application by January 10, 2020.

A Planning Guide to Fundraising

Making a fundraising plan doesn’t need to be daunting. CauseVox recently posted, “Fundraising Planning Guide, Calendar, Worksheet, + Template,” with great tips and tools for a successful year of getting more donations in 2020.

Here are the steps they recommend:

  1. Understand your need and goals
  2. Study your past fundraising trends
  3. List your resources (staff, board, volunteers)
  4. Outline your strategies for the year
  5. Create a path forward

Read more for all the details and a downloadable template and sample calendar.


Patron Privacy for Library Trustees

The Trustee Corner from the Colorado Virtual Library is a monthly series featuring information of interest to public library boards. This information from their September 2019 issue was written by Crystal Schimpf, Public Library Specialist, Leadership & Community Development at Colorado State Library.

The theme of this month’s Trustee Corner is patron privacy in libraries. Patron privacy is a core value of library service, and is an essential component of intellectual freedom, protecting our first amendment rights to access information. Issues of confidentiality and protecting library patron data continue to arise as personal information is increasingly collected, stored, and shared online. Library policies related to privacy and data collection help protect the privacy of patrons by providing guidance and direction for library operations. Trustees play a critical role in helping the library to adopt and develop policies related to patron privacy and confidentiality. The information in this month’s newsletter may help inform the work of the library board in developing, adopting, reviewing, and revising patron privacy policies for the library.

Library Bill of Rights

American Library Association LogoThe American Library Association (ALA) adopted the Library Bill of Rights in 1939. This document serves as an affirmation of library values, stating that “libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that the following basic policies should guide their services.” The document goes on to list seven articles that outline the foundations of library service, including statements on the provision of books and materials, access to information, use of library spaces, and freedom of speech.

The final article is related to patron privacy, and is a recent addition to the Library Bill of Rights, adopted by the ALA Council on January 29, 2019. Some public libraries have chosen to formally adopt the Library Bill of Rights as part of their library policies. For boards who have previously adopted this document, it may be necessary to make a motion or resolution to adopt the current version.

In addition to the Bill of Rights, ALA provides a series of Interpretations of the Library Bill of Rights. One of these interpretations specifically addresses Privacy, while others address topics including Challenged ResourcesEquity, Diversity and Inclusion, and Meeting Rooms. These interpretations can be helpful resources when developing, reviewing, and updating library policies.

Privacy Policy Review

For libraries that need to develop a new policy, or review and revise an existing policy, there are several resources available to guide you through the process. The ALA provides guidelines for Developing or Revising a Privacy Policy as part of their Privacy Toolkit. The Choose Privacy Everyday website includes some Sample Policies & Documents from major metropolitan libraries in the United States. The Colorado State Library includes examples for privacy and confidentiality on their Public Library Sample Policies page. For general guidance on policy development, review these free online training materials from the Mid-Hudson (NY) Public Library System.

Public library boards should work with their library director on review and drafting of new or revised policy to ensure that the policy aligns with library operations and values. In county, municipal, or joint libraries, the library board may also need to work with the governing authority. In the case of public libraries that also serve K-12 schools, there may be additional laws and regulations related to parental access to school records of minors. It is important to remember that the library director is responsible for implementing the policy from an operational and procedural perspective.

Wyoming Law

Wyoming’s public records statutes include provisions for patron privacy. W.S. 16-4-201(d)(ix) protects from inspection, “Library patron transaction and registration records except as required for administration of the library or except as requested by a custodial parent or guardian to inspect the records of his minor child.” This information is included in Wyoming Library Laws, an annual ready reference produced by the Wyoming State Library. Please note that the custodian of records in the WYLD system is the Wyoming State Librarian, currently Jamie Markus. Contact him at (307) 777-5914 or with any questions.

National Friends of Libraries Week October 20-26

Friends of Libraries groups have their very own national week of celebration! United for Libraries will coordinate the 14th annual National Friends of Libraries Week from October 20-26, 2019. The celebration offers a two-fold opportunity to celebrate Friends. Use the time to creatively promote your group in the community, to raise awareness, and to promote membership. This is also an excellent opportunity for your library and Board of Trustees to recognize the Friends for their help and support of the library.
Join the celebration:

More information, ideas, and promotional materials are available at

Webinar to Get Ready for #GivingTuesday

GivingTuesday is coming up on December 3, 2019. This annual celebration, held each year on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving. GivingTuesday is an important way for library Friends groups and Foundations to connect with local donors — both new and renewing — for annual giving. The EveryLibrary Institute team can help your library make the most of it.

EveryLibrary is holding a webinar, Giving Tuesday 2019 for Libraries, on Tuesday, October 8 from 9-10 a.m. MDT. They’ll share best practices for successful GivingTuesday fundraising including how to structure your donor appeals, plan successful crowdfunding or donor-challenges using, and how to partner with the EveryLibrary Institute to reach beyond your local community to a national audience of potential donors.

Learn more and register. is the only crowdfunding platform specifically for libraries. Learn about how to put it to work creating and sharing a compelling message to donors about your library.

Create a Yearly Calendar for Trustees

From the Vermont Department of Libraries newsletter

Lara Keenan is the State Library Consultant, Governance and Management, for the Vermont Department of Libraries. In her Trustee Trainings, Lara talks about the importance of “Succession Planning” – i.e. planning for the future governance of your library, no matter who is on the Trustee Board or who is the library director.

One element of Succession Planning involves creating a yearly calendar for the Trustees that:

  • Lists what topics the Trustees usually discuss each month of the year,
  • Points out when the Trustees need to start talking about certain items (the budget, for instance) to make sure those items meet deadlines, and
  • Shows when the Trustees can fit additional topics into their meeting schedule (ex: when they will review their bylaws, policies, etc.)

Having a detailed yearly calendar will help ensure that the Trustees do not have to rely on institutional memory and can continue to move forward if a Trustee needs to resign due to health or other reasons.

Creating a yearly calendar can be as simple as creating a list of to-do items for each month of the year -and revising that list as you move through the year. Or it can involve a more focused discussion during a Trustee Retreat. Whichever way the Trustees create their yearly calendar, it’s important to store it in a place accessible to any current or future Trustee — in a Trustee filing cabinet at the library or on the Trustees’ section of the library’s website, for example.

The Wyoming State Library offers support, resources, and consulting services to Library Trustees, including the online Wyoming Public Library Board Members’ Handbook. Contact the WSL’s Library Development Office for assistance.