Roles and Responsibilities

The Library Trustee
By agreeing to become a public library trustee, you have consented to undertake several legal and moral obligations. The moral obligations include a belief in the importance and value of libraries, and a desire to contribute to their growth and development. The legal obligations are more complex.

Responsibilities of Trustees
By consenting to serve as a trustee, you are participating in the responsibilities of the board and may agree to do the following:

  • The primary goal of public library trustees is to ensure that the public has access to the highest quality of library services possible.
  • Trustees should ensure that each person has access to the most complete library service possible compatible with equal service for others. Where limitations in service are unavoidable, any inherent inequality of service should favour those residents least able to obtain alternate service.
  • Library Trustees should observe ethical standards with truth, integrity, and honour.
  • Trustees should avoid situations where personal advantage or financial benefits may be gained at the expense of other library users.
  • Trustees should distinguish between their personal views and those of the institution by respecting the position of the board, even though they may disagree.
  • Trustees should respect the confidential nature of library records within the framework which allows for the monitoring of material usage and the need for public accounting.
  • Trustees should respect the established structure of the library.
  • Trustees should attempt to work harmoniously with the board and ultimately accept its will.
  • Trustees should limit their trusteeship role to policy governance and advocacy.
  • Trustees are expected to take responsibility for their personal development through continuing education opportunities and participation in provincial and national library organizations.
  • Trustees should support intellectual freedom in the selection of library material.

Code of Ethics
Library Boards exist to develop, promote and monitor library services as a public trust. To this end, library trustees should be committed to the following principles:

  • Believe in and support the mission of your library.
  • Be aware of your legal responsibilities as a trustee.
  • Contribute knowledge or expertise in a major management area: financial personnel, program, policy or advocacy.
  • Be aware of issues affecting your library.
  • Handle board business effectively and fairly.
  • Participate in development framework, governance and operational policies.
  • Help to develop goals and objectives congruent with the library’s mission, designed to carry out board policies.
  • Regularly evaluate and review policies, goals and objectives and amend as required.
  • Help to secure adequate funds from government and alternate sources to carry out the goals and objectives.
  • Participate in the financial management of the library.
  • Develop awareness of the difference between board and staff roles.
  • Participate in lobbying all levels of government for positive action for libraries.
  • Increase your own and other trustees knowledge of library matters through discussion, ongoing orientation and attendance at workshops and conferences.
  • Sit on at least one board committee.
  • Participate in the organization and implementation of marketing plans and activities.
  • Assist in the formation of partnerships with other community organizations.
  • Comply with the Alberta Libraries Act and Regulation.
  • Embrace the Alberta Library Trustees Association Code of Ethics and Canadian Library Associations Statement of Intellectual Freedom.

It is vital to remember that, as a trustee, you will always be perceived as representing the library in your community. Even though you may personally disagree with a board decision and are free to debate it during board meetings, you must endorse it in public.

The Public Trust

As a library trustee, you are trusted by your community to be responsible for your library. You represent the public interest of this and future generations in the management of that library and the services it provides. You are a creator of policy, employer of personnel, controller of finances and advocate of libraries.

You are expected to take the same care in managing the library’s affairs as you would your own. You must not manipulate the library’s affairs to your own advantage, and you may not agree in advance to turn a decision in a particular direction. If you are negligent or in breach of your duty as a trustee or knowingly collaborate on a breach committed by another trustee, you are liable for any loss sustained by the library as a result.