Featured Question and Answer by Joe Eisner:

Q: Is it required that a library board’s by-laws contain requirements for the preparation and use of an agenda for meetings?

A: No. There is no statutory requirement regarding either the contents of by-laws for a library board or preparation or use of an agenda for meetings. However, good practice would dictate that both the board’s by-laws as well as an agenda prepared and distributed for each meeting provide a structure within which board actions and business are conducted, thereby minimizing opportunities for misunderstandings.

Just as an agenda is a guide to the conduct of meetings, board by-laws are a guide to how the board operates. The by-laws are a formal document which, among other things, indicate who the board’s officers are, their terms of office, when the board will meet, who will preside at meetings in the absence of the chair, etc. A formal procedure is usually specified for amendments or additions to be made to the by-laws.

An agenda outlines the business which will be conducted at a specific meeting. It serves as a guide both to board members as well as the attending public. Unless otherwise indicated in the board’s by-laws, this guide can be modified on short notice. With the consent of a majority of the board, either by formal vote or informal acquiescence, items can be added, items of business listed can be tabled or deferred, either to another meeting or indefinitely, and items not listed can be discussed with the acquiescence of a majority of the board. Some boards may find it helpful for the by-laws to specify who is responsible for compiling the agenda for each board meeting: perhaps the library director and the board chair/president, or the board secretary, or other combinations.

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