Trustee Corner: Your Board’s Relationship with Foundation and Friends

Feb 21, 2017

From the Wyoming Public Library Board Members’ Handbook

Donations can provide the extras, like this bookmobile in Cheyenne funded through the Laramie County Library Foundation.

The Library Board holds ultimate authority over what happens with the library system.The important thing to remember about your Friends of the Library group(s) or Library Foundation is that they are separate entities from the library with their own governance. The Library Board holds no authority over them, nor should you share with them any privileged information, such as patron records. Your Friends and Foundation might provide input, but they should not interfere with the governance or management of the library.

  • Friends of the Library
    Friends organizations are groups of citizens who join together to support, improve and promote the library. A Friends of the Library group can raise funds, sponsor specific projects, provide volunteers, advocate for the library, and serve as a visible presence of support in the community.
  • Library Foundations
    The primary distinction between a Friends of the Library group and a Library Foundation is that a Library Foundation has the single purpose of raising private funds to support special projects, endowments or building projects. Your Foundation is a legally established 501(c)3 entity.

Basic library services should be supported through public funding. Financial and volunteer help from your Foundation and Friends should enhance those services. It should not be a substitute for funding or staffing.

In a few counties, the Library Board will also serve as the Foundation Board. Where the Boards are separate, those serving on the Library Board should not also be voting members of the Friends or Foundation Boards. Ex-officio Board Liaisons are a good way to facilitate communication.

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