Effective Board Recruitment for Trustees and Friends



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From the Vermont Department of Libraries August 2021 newsletter, originally published February 2020

Need some new blood on your board? United for Libraries – the section of the American Library Association for trustees and friends – has some tips to recruit new trustees and friends.

  • Evaluate Your Current Board: What community connections, qualities, personal styles, and areas of expertise already exist on your board – and what are you missing (and thus should recruit for)?
  • Reduce Barriers: Can the meeting time and place be flexible to accommodate different schedules? Can members participate electronically?
  • Make Meetings Efficient, Productive, and Meaningful: Focus on action items during the meaning that move the work of the board forward in meaningful ways. Make sure everyone is allowed to contribute and is taken seriously.
  • Make it Easy to Join or Donate: Provide ways for members to join and donate online.
  • Develop an Elevator Pitch: Find focused and memorable ways to describe what the board does, the impact of its work, and its future plans so that others can easily understand what you do and envision themselves as part of your work.
  • Invite People Personally: Many people are never approached directly and asked to join library trustee or friends boards. Ask potential members in a way that makes it easy for them to say “yes” by personalizing your request so that it matches what the potential member will value. Example: If they are parents of young children, talk about how the board’s efforts support childhood literacy and community engagement.
  • Use Creative Events/Fundraisers as Recruitment Tools: Look for library events and fundraisers that bring the community together. Use those efforts to emphasize the work of your board and the need for community members to contribute to this important work. Talk about the meaningful engagement these events foster.

For more tips, see the United for Libraries “Toolkit for Engaging New and Active Library and Friends Volunteers.” This Toolkit offers good tips for recruiting trustees, friends, and library volunteers.

Also check out the Wyoming State Library’s resources for library trustees for more ideas on creating an effective board.

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