Tension Within Your Library Board

Every library has a board of trustees, or at least you should have a board of trustees or directors. Whatever you please to name them. Within this board, hopefully you have at least seven people on it, there will be a lot of different personality types. Some may compliment each other greatly, while other’s may not.

The goal of a library board is to work as a team, and a united front for the betterment of the library. They supervise the library director and the library, making sure that everything is going as planned. The library director watches over the staff and the day-to-day operations of the library, and answers to the library board.

When you’re working with your library board and you notice that there may be tension between specific members, I recommend trying to stop the board meeting, maybe pause it. Go for a time out. When you’re no longer taking the minutes and aren’t in the “official” board meeting, try to figure out what is stem of the problem. Why is this person reacting badly to this person? Is it just personalities? Did this person do something to that person? You’re going to act like a referee in a soccer game. You want to try to stay as impartial as possible when you’re in between two or more people.

While you’re talking to the whole board and trying to make everything come together, and see that a specific set of people are getting more and more angry, then pull them out of the group and have them talk it out together, in private. Maybe in the office, with the door closed, or somewhere where they can have privacy with talk to each other without worrying that the whole library board can hear their problems. If needed give them a couple of minutes, or several minutes, alone to work their problems out.

Hopefully with talking the problems out, and having a brief alone time and a time to cool down your board will be back up and functioning as one united front, and the tension will be gone for the time being.

Although it can be very hard at times to have a board with many people, many ideas, and many personalities you all have one common goal, and that is for the library to survive, serve the public, and to see how the library can improve its services.

Good luck on keeping your board of trustees strong!

Small Town Librarian

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