Public Library Trustee Manual


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.

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.

Since the governance models of North Carolina libraries are quite varied, the information supplied in various chapters won’t necessarily apply to your type of library. It is the responsibility of each North Carolina library to understand its legal status based on its establishment documents. We recommend that you consult your library’s attorney if you have any questions about how the laws apply to your library. The information presented in this handbook is in no way to be considered as legal advice.

If you are unsure of the type of library you represent, you can:

  • ask your library system director
  • contact the State Library of North Carolina at 

How To Use This Handbook

This handbook can be used in a variety of ways. Specific chapters may be referenced for continuing education at board meetings, or to explain the role of a trustee to a potential recruit or new trustee. Your local funding agencies may also appreciate an overview of certain topics.

Each chapter has its own focus and can be used individually as a:

  • reference for specific questions
  • discussion starter for exploring topics that the board is interested in learning more about
  • guide to further resources on specific topics

Don’t forget the appendix! There are several templates and forms that you can make your own at the end of the handbook.

You are embarking on important work that will have an impact on your community for years to come. Best wishes for a rewarding and effective term of service!