Spring 2010

The Trustee communicates issues affecting libraries and library services. Once a library and systems join LTA, all their trustees automatically receive this quarterly publication published by LTA. To learn more about membership in LTA, Click Here.

From a Director's Viewpoint

Gloria Goverman, Director, East Fishkill Community Library

Spring 2010 issue of Trustee

When Sam Patton asked me to write an article for the TRUSTEE newsletter, I agreed without thinking about it very much. After all, he is one of my bosses and a particularly nice guy so I’d be hard pressed to say no. In preparation, I found myself thinking back to my interview six years ago. I’ve interviewed with full boards before so there was nothing too unusual about sitting around the table with 9 people yakking about libraries. In fact, it’s one of my favorite things to do. But there was a very different dynamic during this interview which impressed me; I walked away thinking what a really nice bunch of people they were. I wanted this job because I got a glimpse into how this board worked together and I liked it.

As I’ve worked with them I have found this board to be thoughtful and deliberative. Their meetings are efficient and yet there’s a lot of laughter. This type of interaction didn’t happen by accident and I’d like to share with you why I think they are the way they are.

They like each other. Some of the trustees have been working together on the library board for years; decades actually. Some work together on other organizations, some knew each other on their day jobs. But at some point, as each new trustee came onto the board, they were welcomed and quickly and fully integrated. Their ideas were solicited, their strengths utilized. There was no exclusion, no condescension. I have to ask myself though, what would happen if there was a new board member who didn’t fit in so readily. I think that they would still be professional, friendly and efficient, because they know how to get along and make the group work for the good of the organization.

They are passionate about providing excellent library service. Not all of my board members are steady library users, but being a library user isn’t a prerequisite for being an exemplary trustee. Some Gloria Goverman, Director, East Fishkill Community Library
of them have used libraries in the past and know what an asset a good library is to the community. Some believe in unfettered accessibility to information (and ripping good stories). Some want to see their community enhanced by having a cultural environment as a resource for its citizenry. But all are avid library supporters and are willing to work toward increasing library support as a means to benefit individuals and the community.

They are willing to work at being trustees. They research issues thoroughly and consider all aspects before taking action. They go for additional training when appropriate. They engage the services of professionals such as lawyers, CPAs, and human resource specialists in order to institute best practices. They come to meetings prepared. Everyone does some of the work and there are no prima donnas.

They value and respect their staff. They know that the way for a library to be an institution that is loved is to have the best staff possible. Without that, the finest collection in the world will languish. Books don’t greet you with a smile; people do!

They are clear about the roles of the director, staff, board and Friends. Clarity helps smooth the way so that each group with ties to the library knows how they can contribute toward a common goal. As we go through the most recent strategic planning sessions, the board has included staff and members of the newly formed Friends group to participate in the process believing that the more stakeholders who are involved, the better the outcome will be.

So after the interview, they offered me the job and I took it without a second thought. It has been, by far and away, the best job I’ve ever had. I continue to learn from my trustees and I hope that they can say the same about me. Someday, perhaps someone will ask me to write an article about the staff of the library – I have a lot of good things to say about them too. And every word is true!!

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