Best Practice for Trustees: Massachusetts Library Laws

By Rob Favini, Head of Library Advisory and Development at the MBLC

Previous blog posts have been highlighting excerpts from the Trustee Handbook focusing on laws and liability relating to libraries and library trustees. What follows is a list of laws that apply to libraries for your reference.  As you can see many of the items on this list go beyond the specific laws governing boards of trustees that we have covered in MGL Chapter 78. Being aware of the broad range of laws governing libraries, human resources, finance, and labor relations is essential. And an important best practice for librarians and library trustees.

MASSACHUSETTS LAWS PERTAINING TO LIBRARIES

It is advisable for trustees and the library director to acquire a familiarity with local, state and federal laws which may have an impact on library management by consulting with local municipal officials and other authorities.

Although there are many Massachusetts laws which could apply to library management, the following is a selective list of Massachusetts laws which have a broad impact on the board of trustees and which are particularly relevant to the general administration of Massachusetts public libraries. Full text of Massachusetts General Laws may be accessed online at http://www.malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/Search.

A Selective List of Massachusetts Laws with Relevance to Libraries:

Accessibility of Public Buildings by Handicapped Persons (ch.22 §13A)
Anti-Discrimination Law (ch.151B)
Charitable Corporations (ch.180 §§1-11C, 26-26B)
Confidentiality of Library Records (ch.78 §7 ; ch.4 §7(26) ; ch.66 §10)
Conflict of Interest (ch.268A §§17-25)

Crimes in/against libraries:
Destruction or Mutilation of library Materials (ch.266 §§99, 100)
Theft of Library Materials (ch.266 §§99, 99A)
Disturbance of Libraries (ch.272 §41)
Harmful to Minors Act (ch.272 §§28, 31)

Funds:
General Receipt of Funds (ch.44 §53)
Receipt of Grants or Gifts (ch.44 §53A)
Replacement Funds (for lost or damaged materials) (ch.44 §53)
Revolving Funds (ch.44 §53E1/2)
Trust Funds (ch.44 §§54, 55B)

Labor Relations: Public Employees (ch.150E)
Liability (ch.258)
Public Libraries:
Establishment of Free Public Libraries (ch.78 §§1, 7-13)
Trustees of Town Libraries (ch.78 §§10-13)
Association/Corporation Libraries (ch.78 §§1, 13)
Board of Library Commissioners (ch.78 §§14-15, 19)
State Aid to Cities and Towns for Free Public Libraries (ch.78 §§19A,B)
Joint Libraries (ch.78 §11)
Written Policy for Selection of Materials (ch.78 §33)
Written Employment Contracts with Library Directors (ch.78 §34)

Open Meeting Law (ch.30A §§18-25)
Public Records (ch.66 §§1-18)

Information pertaining to this blog post can be found on pages 43-45 of the Massachusetts Public Library Trustee Handbook.

For more information about all services and resources available to trustees please visit the MBLC Trustee page (https://mblc.state.ma.us/for/trustees.php).

Have a question relating to your board? Contact Maura Deedy (maura.deedy@mass.gov) or Rob Favini (robert.favini@state.ma.us)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.