Ask Joe Eisner: Is a library board required to permit public participation at its open meetings?

LTA Members:Get Questions Answered
Do You Have a Library Question Which Requires an Answer?
Ask Joe Eisner (click to learn more)

As part of LTA’s expansion of service to aid and assist library trustees and directors, LTA offers members an opportunity to confer with Joe Eisner, free of charge.

Joe can be contacted toll-free at 1 (866) 720-8969 or by email at ltafaqjoe@librarytrustees.org. (Question are handled with discretion.)

For more information about Joe Eisner’s experience and background, please click on the “Ask Joe Eisner” tab under “Resources and Links” on LTA’s website.

Please note: The following should not be construed as legal advice, for which the services of counsel should be obtained:


Q. Is a library board required to permit public participation at its open meetings?

 A. Both association and public libraries boards are required by Education Law s260-a to conduct their meetings in accordance with the provisions of the Open Meetings Law (OML). However, “…although the Open Meetings Law provides the public with the right ‘to observe the performance of public officials and attend and listen to the deliberations and decisions that go into the making of public policy’ (see Open Meetings Law s100), the Law is silent with respect to public participation. Consequently, by means of example, if a public body… does not want to answer questions or permit the public to speak or otherwise participate at its meetings, we do not believe that it would be obliged to do so.  On the other hand, a public body may choose to answer questions and permit public participation, and many do so. When a public body does permit the public to speak, we believe that it should do so based upon reasonable rules that treat the members of the public equally…. [T]he presiding officer has the authority to limit remarks from the public that are ‘repetitive’ and ‘offensive’…. [W]e note federal court decisions indicating that if commentary is permitted within a certain subject area,, negative commentary in the same area cannot be prohibited…. [A]ssuming that the Board of Trustees…  [or] the presiding officer permit those who wish to speak to do so for a particular period of time, each person who wishes to do so must, in our opinion, be given an equal opportunity to do so. Similarly, if the Board…  permits  positive comments concerning the operation… we believe that they must offer an equal opportunity to enable those in attendance to offer negative or critical comments.  It would not be unreasonable, in our opinion, to limit repetitive comments in support of opinions expressed previously, as well as those that would be offensive to reasonable people  of ordinary sensibilities….” (Op COG OML 5296, June 12, 2015).  “In the context of a meeting of a public body or a public hearing, we believe that a court would determine that a public body may limit the amount of time allotted to person who wishes to speak, so long as the limitation is reasonable” (Op COG OML 4141, February 24, 2006).

Q. May a library board require that a members of the public who wish to speak during public participation at an open meeting of the board be limited to residents of the political jurisdiction served by the library?

 A. Bearing in mind that the purpose of the Open Meetings Law is to encourage transparency in government,  and depending if the meeting is an open meeting of the library board, to impose such a limitation might be politically imprudent as well as ill-advised. In the following Committee on Open Government opinion, counsel distinguished between a “community forum meeting” and a meeting of a public body, stating that both are different from a public hearing:

“From our perspective, a ‘community forum meeting’ is different from a meeting of a public body, and both are different from a public hearing. A meeting is generally a gathering of a quorum of a public body for the purpose of discussion, deliberation, and potentially taking action within the scope of its powers and duties. A hearing is generally held pursuant to law to provide members of the public with an opportunity to express their views concerning a particular subject, such as a proposed budget, a local law or a matter involving land use. It is likely that a ‘community forum meeting’ is similar to a public hearing, due to its purpose, but unlike a public hearing, is not prescribed by law. Public hearings are often required to be preceded by the publication of a legal notice. In contrast, §104(3) of the Open Meetings Law specifies that notice of a meeting must merely be ‘given’ to the news media and posted. We note, too, that a meeting of a public body held in accordance with the Open Meetings Law can only occur with the presence of a quorum. A hearing or a community forum, on the other hand, can be conducted without a quorum present.

 “While we know of no judicial decisions concerning the ability of those to speak at either meetings or hearings, when a public body does permit the public to speak, we believe that it should do so based upon reasonable rules that treat members of the public equally.

“Legal notices for public hearings normally include the following indication: “at such hearing any person may be heard.” Neither the notice nor the statute requiring that the hearing be held distinguishes among those who might want to express their views. That being so, we do not believe that a public body could validly require that those who attend or seek to attend a hearing identify themselves by name, residence or interest. In short, it is our view that any member of the public has an equal opportunity to partake in a public hearing, and that an effort to distinguish among attendees by residence or any other qualifier would be inconsistent with the law and, therefore, unreasonable.

“Moreover, people other than residents, particularly those who own property or operate businesses in a community, may have a substantial interest in attending and expressing their views at hearings held by school boards and other public bodies. Prohibiting those people from speaking, even though they may have a significant tax burden, while permitting residents to do so, would, in our view, be unjustifiable. Further, it may be that a non-resident serves, in essence, as a resident’s representative, and that precluding the non-resident from speaking would be equivalent to prohibiting a resident from speaking. In short, it is unlikely that a public body could validly prohibit a non-resident from speaking at a public forum based upon residency” (Op COG OML 4141, February 24, 2006).

Thus, prudence would dictate that a library board should seek advice from counsel regarding the appropriate procedure to follow in regard to receiving questions from members of the public who attend library board meetings at which only routine business is discussed, or as in the case of a school district public library or an association library which request voter approved tax support, hold a meeting held in advance of that vote to answer questions regarding the proposed appropriation request, and at which either a quorum of the board will be present to vote to formally approve  presentation of  the appropriation request to voters, or at which a less than a quorum will be present but those board members present will be available to answer questions from the public, but not to transact board business nor to vote on other library matters:

 “Legal notices for public hearings normally include the following indication: “at such hearing any person may be heard.” Neither the notice nor the statute requiring that the hearing be held distinguishes among those who might want to express their views. That being so, we do not believe that a public body could validly require that those who attend or seek to attend a hearing identify themselves by name, residence or interest. In short, it is our view that any member of the public has an equal opportunity to partake in a public hearing, and that an effort to distinguish among attendees by residence or any other qualifier would be inconsistent with the law and, therefore, unreasonable.

“Moreover, people other than residents, particularly those who own property or operate businesses in a community, may have a substantial interest in attending and expressing their views at hearings held by school boards and other public bodies. Prohibiting those people from speaking, even though they may have a significant tax burden, while permitting residents to do so, would, in our view, be unjustifiable. Further, it may be that a non-resident serves, in essence, as a resident’s representative, and that precluding the non-resident from speaking would be equivalent to prohibiting a resident from speaking. In short, it is unlikely that a public body could validly prohibit a non-resident from speaking at a public forum based upon residency” (Op COG OML 4141, February 24, 2006).


Please note: If you have any additional questions about this topic, please contact Joe Eisner at the e-mail/phone above.

 

Urgent: NYS Library Aid FY 2017-2018 – Needs Your Support!

NYS Library Aid FY 2017-2018 – Needs Your Support!
KEEP THE MESSAGE GOING – PASS IT ON!

As the final budget is being crafted the NYS Senate and NYS Assembly one house budget proposals remain on the chopping block!

TAKE ACTION NOW! Use NYLA’s pre-drafted letter to voice your support for fully funding NYS Library Aid in the FY 2017-2018 Budget.

Even if you have already written to your representative, please follow this link to send this NEW message to your legislators that library funding is NOT NEGOTIABLE!

Senate

  • State Library Aid: +$8M over Governor’s Executive Budget ($99.6M total)
  • State Library Construction Aid: +$15M ($29M total)

Assembly

  • State Library Aid: +$4M ($95.6M total)
  • State Library Construction Aid: +$11M ($25M total)

These adds are a testament to the hard work and commitment of New York’s library advocates. Thanks to your efforts, we currently have support in each house heading into final negotiations with the Governor. But, remember these numbers are mere proposals, and nothing is assured. Unless we convince the legislature to dig in and defend library funding, we still face Governor Cuomo’s funding cuts!

WE NEED YOUR HELP TO DEFEND LIBRARY FUNDING – NOW IS THE TIME TO ACT! We are counting on you to ensure the legislature fights for libraries as negotiations take shape.

TAKE ACTION NOW! Use NYLA’s pre-drafted letter to voice your support for fully funding NYS Library Aid in the FY 2017-2018 Budget.

Even if you have already written to your representative, please follow this link to send this NEW message to your legislators that library funding is NOT NEGOTIABLE!

After you submit your name and address you will have the opportunity to view and EDIT our pre-drafted letter.  Our system determines your elected representatives based on your address, and submits your message directly to their inbox. Copies are also sent to key members of the Legislature.

Click HERE to send your message of support for Library Funding NOW!

If you have already sent your letter – THANK YOU!
Help us spread the word – invite your coworkers, friends, and family to take action!
Forward this message, share, post, tweet – pass it on!

EVERY MESSAGE COUNTS.


 

 

Trustees in the Know: Binghamton

A day to Learn, Participate and Renew for Library Trustees and Directors

Sponsored by the Four County Library System, the Southern Tier Library System, the Finger Lakes Library System and the Library Trustees Association

Hosted by the Four County Library System at the Broome County Public Library
185 Court Street, Binghamton, NY 13901
Saturday, May 6, 2017• 9:30 am to 3:00 pm


Registration Deadline – April 28, 2017
Sorry.  Registration has closed for this event.

If you have any questions, please contact Tim Gavin, Executive Director at tgavin@librarytrustees.org or 518-445-9505


Join fellow trustees and library staff to get a better understanding of these important topics:

9:30 Registration and coffee

10 – 11:15 RETHINKING LIBRARY SPACES: MAKING BETTER USE OF THE SPACE YOU ALREADY HAVE.

Presented by: Bob Costello, Corey Layton & Mick Lombardini of L2 Studios
For detailed bios of each of the presenters, please click here.

Bob Costello (L2 Studios)

Mick Lombardini (L2 Studios)

Corey Layton (L2 Studios)

11:15 – 12:30 WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT FINANCIAL REPORTS

Presented by: Duane Shoen, CPA

Duane Shoen, CPA from Ciaschi,

Dietershagen, Little & Michelson in Ithaca, covering budgets and what information library boards should receive in regular financial reports and any potential red flags.

Duane Shoen is a partner in the accounting firm of Insero & Co, CPAs, LLP. Duane and the firm provide services to many non-profit agencies and governments in the Finger Lakes, Southern Tier, and Central New York. Duane joined the firm in 1995, and has been a partner since 2000. Insero is the successor company to Ciaschi Dietershagen, Little and Mickelson

12:30 Lunch

1:15 – 2:30 LEGAL UPDATE: CONFLICT OF INTEREST, BOARD/STAFF RELATIONSHIPS, AND EMPLOYMENT LIABILITY.

Presented by: Carrie J. Pollak and Whitney Kummerow

Carrie J. Pollak is counsel in the Corporate, Real Estate, Tax and Health Care Practices. Her legal practice concentrates in the area of corporate governance. Ms. Pollak regularly advises long term health care providers, companies and other tax-exempt organizations on diverse legal issues, including formations, taxation and tax exempt issues, corporate governance, corporate restructurings, regulatory matters, and a variety of commercial ventures, contracts and transactions. She also regularly advises real estate developers on all stages of development, including contract negotiation and drafting, financing, leasing, buying and selling, real estate syndications, as well as wetlands mitigation, conservation and preservation.

She has represented clients before the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, Army Corps of Engineers, and the Fish and Wildlife Service; as well as the New York State Office of the Attorney General, Department of Taxation and Finance, Affordable Housing Corporation, and the Department of Environmental Protection. (Read Full Bio Here)

Whitney Kummerow

Whitney M. Kummerow is an associate in the Labor & Employment Practice and Startup & Emerging Business Practice. She represents and counsels employers in various aspects of labor and employment law.

As a member of the Startup & Emerging Business Practice, Ms. Kummerow also counsels entrepreneurs on various issues, including best hiring practices,employee handbook and policy creation, and initial wage and hour compliance for new businesses. (Read Full Bio Here) 


Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library Vinciguerra Citizen Laureate Award: Ed and Francine Rodger

The Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library’s Vinciguerra Citizen Laureate Award was presented to Ed and Francine Rodger at a reception on December 10th, 2016.  The reception was also to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the 475 Moe Road library building.

Background of Award

The Vinciguerra Citizen Laureate Award was established in 1999 to honor Stephen and Beatrice Vinciguerra for their generous donation of land on which the library was built.  The Award was intended to be bestowed on future individuals whose contribution to the library was above and beyond the normal expectations of a volunteer.  It has only been awarded to the Vinciguerras in 1999 and to Joe Conroy in 2007.

 

Ed & Francine Rodger-CPH Library Citizen Laureate Award 12-2016

Ed and Francine Rodger

In December 2016, the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Library celebrated the 10th anniversary of the opening its current building on Moe Road in Clifton Park.  As part of the anniversary celebrations, long time library supporters and library trustees, Ed and Francine Rodger were presented with the library’s prestigious Vinciguerra Citizen Laureate award.  This award was established in 1999 and is bestowed on individuals whose contributions to the library are above and beyond the normal expectations of a volunteer.  It has only been awarded to two other people prior to the Rodgers.

Ed and Francine have been involved with the library for nearly 50 years.  As far back at the late 1960’s Francine was a volunteer, doing membership drives to help develop a library for the community.  The first library opened to the public in 1969, and soon after in 1972 Francine was appointed to the library board and served until 1985.  Ed has been on the library board since 1997 and his current term runs until the end of 2020.  Between Francine and Ed, there will have been a Rodger on the library board for 36 years of the library’s 50 year history.

During their terms, both Francine and Ed have each served as president, treasurer and vice-president of the board, and they have worked tirelessly to make sure  the library services that are provided are exemplary.

Several years ago in conjunction with the 40th anniversary celebrations, the Friends of the Library commissioned an artist to create renderings of the different locations of the library over the years.    And when we received the images, Ed noted that one was missing – an image of the very first purpose built library that opened 1981.

This particular library had a special significance for Ed and Francine.  Not only was Francine the president of the board and then treasurer  during door-to-door campaigns that raised a quarter of a million dollars for the construction, but the Rodgers, along with another local family, personally guaranteed the 250,000 dollar mortgage for the library building.

Francine continued to serve on the Board throughout the campaign to establish a tax district in 1985, which provided a sound financial footing for the future of the library. Francine resigned from the Board in 1985, but continued to be involved in committees and volunteering.

In 1997 Ed was appointed to the board to fill the term of a resigning trustee and has subsequently been elected four times, and is beginning his 21st consecutive year as a library trustee.  Ed has been the president of the board at two different times as well as the vice president and treasurer.

Current Board President, Jason DiGianni, on behalf of the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library Board of Trustees, presented the Citizen Laureate Award to Ed and Francine Rodger on December 10, 2016.

In addition to the award, the Local History Room will be named in honor of Ed and Francine.  It will be the Ed and Francine Rodger Local History Room.  

State Education Department Proposes Public Library Construction Aid Regulation Changes to Expand Scope of Eligible Projects

45-Day Public Comment Period Begins April 12

Proposed amendments to the State Aid for Library Construction regulations expand and further define the types of public library construction projects that are eligible to receive State aid, the State Education Department announced today. A 45-day public comment period on the proposed amendments begins April 12.

“Public libraries are centers of communities,” Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa said. “These regulation changes will enable public libraries to apply for State aid for a wider range of necessary projects that ultimately benefit children and adults.”

“We must continue to invest in public libraries that are vital educational centers and central gathering places for so many communities,” State Education Department Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said. “With these regulation changes, libraries can receive aid for necessary technology projects, like broadband installation, and receive more funding for projects that serve economically disadvantaged communities.”

The proposed amendments align the Commissioner’s regulations with recent statutory changes the State Legislature made to Education Law §273-a. The proposed amendments include the following significant changes:

  • clarifies eligible costs, including the acquisition of vacant land and purchase and installation of assistive listening devices and systems for the deaf and hearing impaired;
  • makes the installation and infrastructure of broadband services an approved project cost; and
  • enables approved projects serving economically disadvantaged communities to be funded up to 75 percent of eligible project costs.

A Notice of Proposed Rule Making will be published in the State Register on April 12, 2017 and public comment will be received until May 30, 2017. Following the public comment period, it is anticipated that the proposed rule will be presented for permanent adoption by the Board of Regents at the July 2017 meeting. If adopted, the proposed amendment would become effective on August 2, 2017.

The proposed regulation can be viewed here: http://www.regents.nysed.gov/common/regents/files/317audbfd2.pdf

For More Information, Contact:
Antonia Giuliano
(518) 474-1201
www.nysed.gov


New York State Board of Regents
MaryEllen Elia
Commissioner of Education
The State Education Department
The University of the State of New York / Albany, NY 12234
Office of Communications

Ask Joe Eisner: Are municipal or school district public library boards solely responsible for arranging for insurance coverage on the library facility and its contents?

LTA Members:Get Questions Answered
Do You Have a Library Question Which Requires an Answer?
Ask Joe Eisner (click to learn more)

As part of LTA’s expansion of service to aid and assist library trustees and directors, LTA offers members an opportunity to confer with Joe Eisner, free of charge.

Joe can be contacted toll-free at 1 (866) 720-8969 or by email at ltafaqjoe@librarytrustees.org. (Question are handled with discretion.)

For more information about Joe Eisner’s experience and background, please click on the “Ask Joe Eisner” tab under “Resources and Links” on LTA’s website.

Please note: The following should not be construed as legal advice, for which the services of counsel should be obtained:


 

Q. Are municipal or school district public library boards solely responsible for arranging for insurance coverage on the library facility and its contents?

 A.  No. Regardless of type of  library, public library boards of trustees have a corporate entity entirely separate from  that of the municipality or, in the case of a school district public library, from the board of education.  Library trustees are public officers:

Public officers having by law the care and custody of the  public buildings and the other property of a municipal corporation, may insure the same at the expense of such corporation (General Municipal Law s79).

As such, they have the responsibility of exercising due diligence, particularly since it is well settled that they are independent entities.

The Comptroller has stated that General Municipal Law s79 is permissive: “It is simply authorization to contract for such insurance (59 St Dept Rep 363 (1938)… The Department believes that failure to obtain adequate fire insurance coverage… may be imprudent” (15 Op State Compt 49, 1969).Thus, public library trustees  have the responsibility of exercising due diligence.

In the case of a municipal public library, the library board should discuss with the municipal governing authority whether the municipality’s property and contents insurance cover the library. If not it would be incumbent on the library board to reach an agreement with the governing board as to whether the library should independently arrange for such coverage, at least on contents,  and whether the premium will be reflected in the library’s budget. The strategy outlined below in the Education Department’s Law Division’s and the Comptroller’s  opinions may have some application when  municipal public library boards discuss the issue of property and liability insurance coverage with the municipal governing authority.

Similarly, a school district public library (SDPL) board should consult with the board of education to determine whether the district’s property and contents insurance cover the library, and in what amounts. Where the SDPL is occupying a building whose construction or acquisition was funded by a school district bond issue, the Education Department’s Law Division has stated that where title to a library building lies with the school district, insurance should run to the school district as owner: “If the insurance in the building and contents is to be carried in one policy it would appear that noting… the board of education and the library  ‘as interest may appear’ would be proper to protect the interest of both parties” (ltr, June 30, 1954). “The cost of the insurance on the building would not technically be part of the library’s budget” (ltr, September 9, 1955).

Where a school district board of education and the public library trustees contemplated entering into an agreement to allow the public library use of a district-owned building, the Comptroller stated: “…[A]s a practical matter, since the school district would stand to lose if the library building were destroyed, it would be in the best interest of the school district to pay the property insurance premiums out of the school district budget. However, if the school district were that its interests would be properly protected if the premiums were paid by the library, we found no legal barrier to such an arrangement. It is our opinion that the same conclusion would apply to the manner in which liability insurance premiums were handled. Therefore, an agreement which places responsibility for liability and property insurance upon the library would be proper if the school district felt its interests would be properly protected….” (Op State Compt 77-823, 1977 (unreported)).

Despite the independence  of both types of public libraries, there appears to be a joint responsibility on the part of both the municipal governing body, the school district board of education, and the applicable type of library to determine that each board is acting in a manner which, in case of a loss,  will protect the interest of the taxpayers who support each type of library. It would also be prudent to come to an agreement whereby at regular intervals (perhaps every two years) a mechanism exists where the coverages are reviewed by both boards and necessary adjustments are made in the then existing coverage amounts.


Please note: If you have any additional questions about this topic, please contact Joe Eisner at the e-mail/phone above.

 

A Visit to our May Regional Training site: Broome County Memorial Library

The Broome County Public Library opened in October 1904. Originally called the Binghamton Public Library, it was created with a gift of $75,000 from Andrew Carnegie. The building was designed to serve as both a public library and a community center. On the first floor was a collection of 14,000 books and the second floor housed the library’s auditorium, the Binghamton Museum of Fine Arts (now part of Roberson Museum) and the Broome County Historical Society

In 2000, the library opened in a modern building at its current location of 185 Court St.  The new building went back to its original roots as not only a library, but a community center, offering all types of classes and meeting room space.  Over 300,000 people visit the library each year to attend a meeting, check out a book or use a computer.

 The computer lab was repurposed as the Creation Station and houses computers with digital photography software.  There is also a sewing machine, a Cricut die cut machine.  Classes in knitting and beading/jewelry making can be found in the Creation Station as well as yoga and drawing.

 A library garden accentuates the property with an originally designed sculpture and gazebo as centerpieces.  This gives patrons and community members a quiet place to contemplate or read during nice weather.

  Broome County Public Library hosts poetry classes and beginning computer classes. These are taught by students and faculty from Binghamton University.  BCPL partnered with SUNY Broome to bring the BIG READ to the community in early 2017.  The featured book will be “The Things They Carried” by Timothy O’Brien.  Mr. O’Brien will be coming to Binghamton to discuss his book and the Vietnam experience in March.

 In 2012, Literacy Volunteers of Broome and Tioga Counties moved into the building to serve their students and teachers in a central location.  This is a perfect union of literacy training and libraries.  The group holds 3 classes per week in mathematics, reading and English conversation besides offering one-on-one tutoring for adult beginning readers.

The Friends of the Broome County Public Library hold 8 book sales a year and staff a Friends Gift Shop.  The Gift Shop is chock full of toys, like Gumby and Pokey, and higher quality used books.  The Friends are an integral part of the library and fund adult and children’s summer reading programs.  They also purchase a whole host of other library equipment, shelving, books and databases.

 Of course, none of this would be possible without a dedicated group of library trustees.  They keep the library on target and functioning, creating policies and supporting the community.  We are lucky to have such a great synergy with our partners, friends, community leaders and trustees.

New Collaboration Offers Leadership Opportunity for Public Libraries in New York State

The New York Library Association (NYLA), and Westchester Green Business have announced a new collaboration that will strengthen libraries and their communities for decades to come by providing a clear path forward toward environmental sustainability for participating libraries.

Through funding awarded through Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Cleaner, Greener Communities (CGC) Program, Westchester Green Business has opened access to their groundbreaking program that has helped dozens of businesses, nonprofits and the award-winning Hendrick Hudson Free Library make operational decisions that result in more sustainable, resilient futures for themselves and their communities, to all public libraries in New York State. This collaboration helps bring to life the Resolution on the Importance of Sustainable Libraries unanimously passed in 2014 by the Council of the New York Library Association.

The CGC program is a statewide initiative, administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), that encourages communities to incorporate sustainability goals and principles into local decision-making, and then form partnerships to transform markets, leading to a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and generation of economic development benefits.

“Participation in the certification program not only provided us the opportunity to evaluate and enhance our sustainability efforts,” said Hendrick Hudson Free Library director Jill Davis, “but it allowed us to become part of a greater movement which has created unique partnerships and educational possibilities.”

The program, Green Business Certification, provides a turnkey system to successfully integrate sustainable practices into library operations. Library leaders will learn exactly where resources are being wasted and identify opportunities to increase efficiency and save money. Proprietary performance tools are used to calculate the economic and environmental impacts of energy, travel, waste, water and refrigerants in a library, while staff surveys gauge behavioral impacts.

Dani Glaser, Westchester Green Business Program Director commented, “It is an honor to have been selected by NYLA to provide the benchmarking platform for their Sustainability Initiative. Libraries are uniquely positioned to make a significant impact influencing patrons, communities, and libraries across the nation about the importance of sustainability.”


Check out this short video:https://youtu.be/5fQBqehRL6Y to learn more about the program and its benefits for libraries from Jill Davis, the director of the award-winning Hendrick Hudson Free Library, the first library in the state to become certified under this program. She is joined by Dani Glaser, Westchester Green Business Program Director who provides introductory information about the program.

Thanks to this collaboration any public library in New York State may join this program and benefit from the 10% discount for non-profit organizations.

Check out the 2017 Membership Rates and access the Membership form here: http://climatechange.westchestergov.com/green-business/westchester-green-business-certified

Ask Joe Eisner: If a library staff member is appointed to serve as board secretary, is that a conflict of interest?

LTA Members:Get Questions Answered
Do You Have a Library Question Which Requires an Answer?
Ask Joe Eisner (click to learn more)

As part of LTA’s expansion of service to aid and assist library trustees and directors, LTA offers members an opportunity to confer with Joe Eisner, free of charge.

Joe can be contacted toll-free at 1 (866) 720-8969 or by email at ltafaqjoe@librarytrustees.org. (Question are handled with discretion.)

For more information about Joe Eisner’s experience and background, please click on the “Ask Joe Eisner” tab under “Resources and Links” on LTA’s website.

Please note: The following should not be construed as legal advice, for which the services of counsel should be obtained:


Question: If a library staff member is appointed to serve as board secretary, is that a conflict of interest?

Answer: No. An association or public  library board may appoint as secretary to the board any of the following:

1. current staff member, whether full or part time- there would be neither a conflict of interest nor a seeming impropriety in such an appointment.  In addition to their regular salary, a current staff member may be paid a stipend on a monthly basis, or in a lump sum, by voucher subsequent to each board meeting at which the person is performing  as secretary.

In the case of a public library, whether municipal or school district (SDPL), if the person appointed is a current staff member, whether full or part-time, there may be no need to report the arrangement to the local Civil Service Commission. (It would be prudent to consult with the Commission to verify this.)

If desired, the library board could seek Civil Service Commission  approval of a job title for this part-time position of board secretary, which might also involve paying the incumbent in the same manner as all other library employees are paid, including accounting for them on the annual report form which in conformance with Civil  Service Commission procedures is assumed to be submitted to the Commission.

SDPL’s submit such reports directly to the local Commission.  In the case of municipal libraries, depending on local practice, the report is submitted either by the library  directly or by the municipality in behalf of the library if the municipality includes library employees with municipal employees in the municipality’s  annual report to the Commission.

If the library staff is represented by a collective bargaining agent (CBA), it would be prudent to appoint as secretary to the board a staff member who is not represented by the CBA: example- anyone occupying a position which is identified in the CBA contract as “management/confidential”. That could include the library director.

2. current or past library board member- if the latter, the board may opt to compensate that person for the time involved in attending board meetings, and subsequently transcribing the minutes. A current library board member cannot be compensated for this function.

3.member of the public-  need not be a resident of the community and who may be compensated for such service.


Please note: If you have any additional questions about this topic, please contact Joe Eisner at the e-mail/phone above.