Libraries provide the “currency” for today’s information economy. In cities and
towns, rural, suburban and urban, throughout New York, libraries are equipping
people with the tools necessary for life success. With skilled and knowledgeable
library staff, a wide array of online resources, traditional print collections, exciting
program offerings, and inviting and welcoming public spaces, libraries are
experiencing unprecedented increases in public use.
New York’s 756 public libraries are community gateways to the world’s
information resources. Whether in pursuit of an entertaining escape from today’s
complexities or a timely solution to a difficult business question or help with a
school research project, New Yorkers use their local libraries to advance and
enhance their personal, educational, and work lives. As essential community
resources for lifelong learning, public libraries are indispensable parts of this
state’s economic, cultural, educational and social infrastructure.
Library trustees play a special, keenly important role in shepherding the dedicated
and prudent use of library resources. Always striving to provide the best service
which benefits and supports the entire community, trustees must make policy,
personnel and fiscal decisions crucial to a positive direction for the library. While
delegating the day-to-day activities to competent staff, the library trustees must
always be mindful of how their decisions impact the lives of people and the future
of their community. As public officers, library trustees carry an essential and vital
set of fiduciary and legal responsibilities.
Library trustees are responsible to the library and to the public it serves. Trustees
must fulfill the duties commonly referred to as “care, loyalty, and obedience” and
must be tireless advocates for improving library services. Forward-looking,
informed trustees are needed to guide their libraries. Reinforcing the traditional
services of libraries and welcoming the new, expanded opportunities of broadband
Internet access, makerspaces and other technologies, trustees must position their
libraries as essential and vital resources for individual and community success.
This new edition of the Handbook for Library Trustees in New York State
provides advice, guidance and practical information to help trustees succeed in
their important stewardship and governance roles. As New York’s State Librarian,
I am pleased to congratulate and to thank the public library systems and the
Library Trustees Association of New York State (LTA) for the publication (in print
and online) of this new edition. I encourage every trustee to refer frequently to this
useful tool as you undertake the exciting challenges and responsibilities of
delivering high-quality public services to your communities.
Bernard A. Margolis
State Librarian and Assistant Commissioner for Libraries
New York State Library
Office of Cultural Education
New York State Education Department