Massachusetts Public Library Trustees Handbook
Table of Contents
All public library trustees must recognize and accept their legal position as governing agents of the library. A trustee of a public library is a public officer who occupies the role of a fiduciary with regard to the citizens and taxpayers of the government entity which is served. A fiduciary is a person who holds something in trust for another. The public library is a municipal asset which board members hold in trust for the public. If library trustees violate their trust or fiduciary duty, they may be subject to legal consequences. The duties and responsibilities of trusteeship attach automatically by the affirmative act of the trustee in acceptance of the public office.
Throughout this handbook, specific laws and regulations are cited under many sections. Each area of trustee responsibility requires a wide range of knowledge and experience. Trustees need to be aware of the relevant legal requirements, strive to act within the laws, and seek expert assistance as appropriate.
Chapter 1 of this Handbook under the section Who Does What? delineates the differing roles of trustees and directors regarding the legal responsibilities for care of the library. Trustees should rely heavily on their director's expertise and knowledge of local, state, and federal laws which affect the library. However, trustees hold a higher responsibility to the public to assure that all policies and practices conform with all legal requirements, whether local, state, or federal.
Obeying federal, state, county and local laws
Accepting office, including all its powers and obligations
Diligence in the job
Choice of subordinates
Management of property for constituency