The Role of a Library Trustee

A trustee is part of a decision-making team that includes the rest of the trustees and the library director. For a board to function effectively, all members must bring enthusiasm, preparation and dedication to the task and have a firm understanding of the different roles played by the board, the director and the library staff. The State Library of North Carolina provides training and resources to help Board members understand their role and be an engagement library board member.

New Trustee Orientation

This self-paced, orientation module will enhance your understanding of the roles and responsibilities of a public library trustee and increase your comfort level with and commitment to advocating for quality public library service within your community. This module should take you about one hour to complete and you can refer back to it at anytime as a resource.

Start the training

North Carolina Library Trustee Manual

This handbook consists of basic information needed by you, the trustee, to be an effective board member and library advocate. Each chapter includes sources of additional information that may be utilized if you run into an issue or question not addressed.

View the manual online

Download the manual

Working Together: Governing and Advisory Boards

The roles and responsibilities of a library trustee differ depending on if the Board is a governing or advisory board. The documents below provide guidance on the roles and ways library trustees can work with other library stakeholders that aligns with the type of board the library has.

Governing Boards

Advisory Boards

Hiring a Library Director

Many Governing Boards of Trustees are responsible for the important task of hiring the library director. The Chief Office of State Library Agencies developed a hiring packet to help boards navigate the the hiring process from developing the job ad to interviewing. 

Download the Hiring Packet

Tab/Accordion Items

Its important for Public Library Board Trustees to understand the State of North Carolina library law including how public libraries are set up, confidentiality of user records, duties of the state library, open meeting laws, and state aid. Below are statutes and administrative codes that apply to libraries:

a. North Carolina General Statute 125, Articles 1-3. State Library Agency

b. North Carolina General Statute 153A, Article 14: Libraries (formation of public libraries)

c. North Carolina Section .0200 State Aid to Public Libraries

d. North Carolina Section .0300 Organization of Regional Libraries

e. North Carolina General Statute 143-318.9-18 Article 33C. Meetings of Public Bodies (Open Meeting Law) 

f. NCGS 160A Article 20 Part 1- Interlocal Cooperation


WebJunction, a program of OCLC Research, provides free trainings and to all libraries to use, regardless of size, type or location. Find resources on organizing a Friends of the Library group, trustee training, recruitment strategies, and overall library best practices.

Trustee Trouble

This training provides a humorous take on trustee training from Wyoming State Library 

Getting On Board

Created by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania State Library, these videos highlight best practices for board management and assessment.

United for Libraries

United for Libraries was created to support those who govern, promote, advocate, and fundraise for all types of libraries.

American Library Association

The mission of ALA is “to provide leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.” Of particular interest to trustee members is the ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom and ALA Office of Advocacy.

Public Library Association

The Public Library Association (PLA) is the largest association dedicated to supporting the unique and evolving needs of public library professionals. PLA offers continuing education opportunities, unique public library initiatives, and a conference that welcomes public library staff into meaningful partnership.