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Q: Who is responsible for appointing staff — the library board or the library director?

A: Regardless of type of library, the library board, not the director, is the appointing authority. The director recommends to the board the appointment of personnel; the library board approves such recommendation. Education Law s226(7) states: “The trustees of every corporation chartered by the Regents, unless otherwise provided by law or by charter, may: Appoint and fix the salaries of such officers and employees as they shall deem necessary who, unless employed under special contract, shall hold their offices during the pleasure of the trustees….”

Of course, in regard to appointments and terminations, public libraries are subject to the provisions of the Civil Service Law: appointments of eligibles other than those in the labor class must be made from lists furnished by the local Civil Service Commission. Regardless of type of library, the recommended procedure would be for the director to submit to the board for consideration and approval at a regular meeting the name, title, and proposed salary of any person to be employed. If the board approves, this fact should be recorded in the minutes of the meeting in the form of a motion indicating the name of the trustee who made the motion, the name of the trustee seconding the motion, and the names of those trustees voting for or against the motion (as required by the provisions of the Open Meetings Law, which applies to all board meetings of both public and association libraries).

It is also good practice for a library to maintain a personnel roster, possibly to be reviewed by the board quarterly, or semi-annually. This would list the name, title, salary, date of original appointment, and date of resignation or termination if such occurred during the reviewing period. The suggested procedures should not be construed as a method to tie the hands of the library administrator, who should have the latitude to make short-term, interim additions to the library staff as required by circumstances, but with the understanding that final approval of such matters rests with the library board.

Please note: The foregoing should not be construed as legal advice, for which a competent attorney should be consulted.

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