Working with the Director

How the Board interacts with the library director can have as much impact on library services as anything else the Board does. The two must work together closely, but they have very distinct areas of responsibility. Building a relationship of mutual respect and clear communication will ensure that both the Board and the director can do their jobs well.

The first thing to realize in working with the library director is that the director reports to the Board as a whole not to individual trustees. Therefore, a trustee cannot give orders or suggestions to the director unless the action is approved by the entire Board.

While the library director reports to the Board, the Board does not supervise the director's day-to-day activities. The Board's role is to define the director's duties in a written job description and perhaps prepare an annual work plan based on the library's long-term plan (see Planning for the Future). It is then up to the library director to determine how she or he will perform those duties.

That said, the Board still needs to be aware of what the library director does as part of the Board's accountability to taxpayers. The Board should conduct an annual evaluation of the director's performance (see Evaluating the Director, for detailed information) but the Board needs to have additional processes for staying current on the director's activities. For example, the Board can ask for a monthly report from the director.

By asking questions and showing an interest in what is happening at the library, the Board shows that it cares about the library and the director. As in any work situation, expressing interest and respect increases morale and productivity.