BOARDS & TRUSTEES
As Library Boards and CEOs prepare for the appointment of new boards, the documents and webinar below are resources to help prepare the transition and orientation of a new Library Board and new Municipal Council.
Appointments to the Library Board
After the Ontario Municipal Election, set for Monday, October 22, 2018, there will be new municipal councils and library board appointments will follow soon after.
Board appointments must be done in accordance with the requirements outlined in the Public Libraries Act (PLA) with these overarching reminders:
- The current Library Board remains an active board until the new Library Board is appointed
- Library boards in Ontario do not appoint their own replacements.
- Library board appointments are made by the establishing municipal council.
Making appointments at the beginning of each electoral term and filling vacancies is municipal council’s responsibility. However, as advocates for the library, the library board can have a significant influence on the shape of the board in the future. Indeed, managing the transition from one board to the next is a key leadership responsibility for Ontario library boards in the second half of their term.
Board orientation is an essential part of establishing a new library board. Typically, the orientation session is the first meeting of a new board and is focused on board members reviewing and discussing roles and responsibilities. Board orientation sessions are useful for giving an introduction to governance and to the governing legislation. The orientation session also provides all board members with a common frame of reference for how the board and library operate.
Forging a strong working relationship with municipal council and administration is an important role of the library board. By working together, library boards and municipal councils provide responsive and innovative library service that meets the needs of their community.
Spotlight on Ontario Public Libraries, a document for councillors appointed to library boards, provides an overview of governance of public library service in Ontario and the important role local libraries play in the life of communities across Ontario.
The Model Letter to Welcome New City, Town and County Councillors, prepared by FOPL, is an initial step that the library board and CEO may wish to take to build a positive relationship with Council. It’s an excellent opportunity to congratulate new councilors while also making linkages between municipal priorities and the role of the library.
Planning the Transition to a New Board
Recorded September 2018
- the transition to the new board is as smooth as possible
- the municipality has the information it needs to appoint good people to the board
- returning members commit to mentoring new board members
- the orientation for new board members is seen by the whole board as an opportunity to renew itself.
Anne-Marie Madziak is a the Service Development Director with SOLS. In her work with public libraries she has trained both staff and trustees on a wide range of topics, assisted with board development, facilitated planning sessions and guided libraries through a variety of service reviews.
Peggy Malcolm is a library development consultant with SOLS. She is the SOLS representative on the Ontario Public Library Guidelines Council, which recently released the sixth edition of the Ontario Public Library Guidelines for municipal and county libraries, and coordinates accreditation audits for libraries in southern Ontario.
Questions and Answers about Transition to a New Board
Yes. Under the Public Libraries Act, the current Library Board remains in place until the new Library Board is appointed. That means that all members of the board who were appointed by the past municipal or county council remain in place, and all have full voting privileges. It is possible that if the new board is appointed at the first meeting of the new council in December, then the new library board would be the body to meet in December. In many cases, however, it is the old board that meets in December, and sometimes, January. Council has 60 days from its first meeting to appoint the library board, which means that it sometimes happens that a municipal/county councillor who was defeated in the election (or who did not run) would still be on the library board through December and January.
Because it is Municipal Council who appoints board members, there is nothing inappropriate in a CEO generating interest in serving on the library board or in talking it up with particular individuals. Recruiting good people for the library board is a responsibility that can be shared by board and CEO. Getting the word out to the community is an important step in the recruitment process – whether it be just speaking to people at the library about the library board or including a story in the library newsletter or local newspaper. Many libraries are currently using a mix of traditional and social media.
The Public Libraries Act does not specify the actual appointments process. It is entirely a local decision. Some municipalities consult with, or accept recommendations from, the library board and/or CEO before making appointments. Others actually include the CEO and/or a board member as part of a selection or advisory committee. Regardless, the legislation is clear that the final decision belongs to council.
The appointing council must appoint a minimum of five members so that the new library board can begin to operate. If there are not enough applications, and soliciting more has not been successful, it may be possible to ask an additional municipal councillor to sit temporarily on the library board – as long as the number of municipal councillors is a minority of appointed members (for county, the number of elected officials can be no more than the bare majority).
The governance resources will include a brief overview of the policy governance model, as well as links to more information. Because all library boards in Ontario are governing boards, most of the resources will be relevant, regardless of the particular governance model being used.
The Ministry is quite clear that Library Board members are to be appointed for the term of the appointing municipal council. So, when the appointments are made, they are for the full four year term.
Because there has been such turnover in CEOs in Ontario, this time around there will be a number of new CEOs navigating the orientation of a new board, as well as new board members. It is the nature of governance that one of the primary responsibilities of the CEO is to ensure that the board is governing effectively. New CEOs must understand governance well enough to play a leadership role in board orientation and development. In situations where there is a new CEO, returning board members can be helpful in carrying forward board practices as well as being the board’s corporate memory.
There is nothing in the Public Libraries Act that would prohibit a recent retiree from applying to be on the library board. If this is cause for concern, the library board has the option of communicating this concern to municipal officials well in advance of board appointments. The final decision belongs to municipal council.
There is nothing in the Public Libraries Act requiring board members to have library cards. Some would argue that it is a benefit to having non-users on the board as they may have insight into why community members may not obtain library cards.
Listeners shared some ideas, including: traditional methods of getting the word out, like library newsletters and newspaper ads; contemporary channels of communication, such as social media blurbs; and open houses, notices and word of mouth within the library. Board members were encouraged to tap into their own social networks and approach individuals who might be interested in serving on the library board.