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The library is an efficiently managed community resource that provides high-value services through the effective stewardship of public funds.


Public libraries in Colorado are established by a municipal or county government or as a library district under Colorado Library Law. The Library Governing Authority adopts and provides oversight of budgets, supervises the library director, adopts policy, and sets strategic direction. The Library Governing Authority can be the library district governing board, city council, town manager, or other civic leadership governance

Colorado recognizes two types of library boards, governing (in library districts) or advisory (in most city, county, municipal, and joint jurisdictions). The responsibilities of a library governing board are clearly defined in the Colorado Library Law. Conversely, a library advisory board gets direction from the Library Governing Authority and represents the community by advising the library director.

The library advisory board’s responsibilities will vary from city to city and county to county; however, both library governing and advisory boards have the responsibility to advocate for the library, to identify community priorities, to follow state and national laws applicable to libraries, and to plan for the future of the library. In order to stay current and informed, both the library director and the library governing or advisory Board participate in activities sponsored by state and national library organizations.

The library director and staff apply practical and acceptable management practices and standards to the daily operations of the library. These practices are clearly defined in a set of policies adopted by the Library Governing Authority, which are made available to the public. Hiring and evaluating a library director is one of the Library Governing Authority’s most important duties. To prevent all-too-common conflicts resulting from the confusion between governing and managing, a library governing board needs a policy stating that human resource administration—including hiring, supervision, evaluation, and termination of all library staff—is delegated to the library director. The library director provides a regular report as a part of the board meetings to the city, county, or district, which is the legal employer, acting by and through the Library Governing Authority.

The library director is responsible for creating and updating a procedures manual to carry out all policies. The library director manages the library on a daily basis by planning, organizing, and directing services for all people in the community. The library director measures and evaluates the effectiveness of library services in relation to the changing needs of the community. The Library Governing Authority and director seek to serve library users and improve library services through continuous communication with their communities.

Checklist: Basic

Library Governing Authority:

  1. Hires and supervises the library director, according to a written job description, to manage library operations and staff. The Governing Authority, such as a library board, is not involved in the day-to-day operation of the library.
  2. Develops performance expectations for the library director for use in annual performance reviews.
  3. Enacts policies to ensure that all residents of the library service area have access to tax-supported public library services.
  4. Makes board appointments, processes, and terms in compliance with the library’s bylaws.
  5. Complies with bylaws that outline the board’s purpose and operational procedures. Reviews bylaws at least every three years.
  6. Convenes regular, open board meetings in compliance with the Colorado Open Meetings (“Sunshine”) law, CRS 24-6-401-402. The library director is present at all board meetings. Written minutes are available to the public.
  7. Sets goals for the board’s continuing education and performance, and annually reviews the board’s performance.
  8. Approves and reviews policies regularly. When needed, new policies are written, approved, implemented, and made available to the public.


  1. Hires and supervises all library staff.
  2. Upholds (with the help of staff) written policies to govern library personnel, operations, fiscal matters, and services (See checklist of library policies and policy bank of samples).
  3. Maintains written emergency procedures and risk management plans.
  4. Writes procedures that are regularly reviewed, revised (when appropriate), and made available to staff.
  5. Communicates Library Governing Authority priorities to staff and gathers significant staff concerns that may inform governing decisions.
  6. Prepares and presents regular reports to the Library Governing Authority.
  7. Is a member of Colorado Association of Libraries (CAL), the state professional organization.

Board and Director:

  1. Orient new library board members.
  2. Orientation can include a tour of the library, review of the trustee manual, bylaws, library policies, library law, public library standards, and pertinent minutes and information on issues currently under consideration.
  3. Actively recruit qualified candidates for library board openings with attention to identifying representatives that reflect the demographics of the population served by the library.
  4. Meet with elected officials, community leaders, and other stakeholders to inform them about library services and needs.
  5. Administer the library in accordance with state and local codes and ordinances, and Colorado Library Law CRS 24-90-105.
  6. Comply with federal and state laws that affect library operations, including the American with Disabilities Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, and the Privacy Law (CRS 24-90-119).
  7. Maintain responsibility and accountability of the library budget, facilities, and strategic plan. The Library Governing Authority assumes ultimate responsibly for library financial accountability.
  8. Maintain insurance covering property and liability, including volunteer liability covering errors and omissions.
  9. Stay current with library-related issues by way of the State Library, CLiC, the Colorado Association of Libraries (CAL), and the American Library Association (ALA), including United for Libraries. Participate in professional development offered by these organizations.

Checklist: Future-Focused

  1. (Board and director): Track effectiveness of library services and collections through administration and analysis of surveys and other feedback tools and measures.
  2. (Board and director): Actively participate when critical legislative issues arise that affect the future of libraries.
  3. (Director and staff) Host advisory groups or special interest groups, such as teen advisory groups, to gain input on collections, spaces, programs, and services for their unique needs.