Welcome to the 2016 revision of the Handbook. This year we have included links
to several new webinars that will help you do your job as a trustee. The State
Library is constantly adding to this valuable resource and we suggest you check it
out from time to time. ( In
addition to some minor edits we have attempted to clarify questions regarding the
Library Treasurer and Library District Clerk positions. Though not available in the
print version we are pleased to offer this revision online and as a pdf. We invite
your continued questions and comments!

The purpose of this Handbook is to assist both the new and experienced public
library trustee in New York State to better understand their job and to present the
basic information they need to provide quality library service to their community.
It offers advice on the philosophy of governing a library and on the practical, nutsand-bolts
aspects of responsible trusteeship. The information provided is based on
the laws and regulations governing public libraries in our state and on the proven
“best practices” in the field. A brief rundown of what’s new in this edition is
available at:

This is but an introduction to the many aspects of trusteeship and should be
considered simply as one of the many resources necessary to do the job well.
Please be advised that it should not be considered as the final authority on any
legal or financial aspects of library administration. Library Boards should consult
with their attorney and/or certified public accountant on any legal or fiscal issue
before them. All commentary on library law is based on the actual law or
established opinion by State agencies.

The Handbook is intended to be kept in a binder or folder along with other
important documents such as the Library’s Bylaws, Policy Manual, and LongRange
Plan, so that updated information can be added as needed. The online
version ( includes live web
links and is searchable using the (CTRL F) function on your keyboard. It is an
important companion to this Handbook.

All trustees should be aware that the New York State Library provides information
on a range of topics on their website ( The New York
State Library Division of Library Development website deals specifically with
public library issues ( This site includes links to a
number of informative webinars specifically designed for the public library trustee:

The Library Trustees Association of New York State (LTA) ( and
the Mid-Hudson Library System (, both provide
excellent and continually evolving resources for trustee training. Your regional
public library system’s website (
will also provide you with critical information that will help you do your job.

The effective trustee must be well versed in good governance practices that will
enable them to meet the challenges presented by a rapidly changing political, social
and cultural environment. Public libraries in our state are faced with an
increasingly complex regulatory environment, contradictory laws and regulations,
new technologies and emerging competitors for the library’s customers. At the
same time they have never been more vital to the well-being of our society. It is
indeed an exciting time to be a library trustee.

Many individuals and organizations across New York State share the goal of
improving and extending library service; but individual trustees, acting as part of a
library board of trustees in partnership with the Library Director, ultimately bear
the responsibility for achieving that goal. This manual is intended to provide an
introduction to the practical and philosophical information that trustees will need to
augment the common sense and good judgment they exercise in the course of their

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