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Trustee Toolkit


For many Californians, the public library is a fundamental part of their existence.

Along with free access to print and digital collections, it offers a civic and cultural engagement space, a place for workforce preparedness and educational pursuits, a technology hub, a safe place, and a center of community life. Public library boards were created to represent the people in public library governance.

Public libraries are faced with a rapidly changing environment, yet they have never been more vital for California’s communities. Trustees must be prepared to take on the exciting yet demanding role of helping to position their libraries as fundamental resources for individual and community success.

The five main principles of public library trusteeship are:

This website is a shortened version of the Trustee Toolkit developed by the California Library Association. It provides an overview of information and resources for public library trustees. Given the many variances in California state and local library laws and governance, trustees should be aware that not all the information provided and practices described may apply to them.

This resource was developed as an educational tool and is not intended to replace legal advice.

Public library boards of trustees are essential to the success of California’s public libraries.

Public libraries are essential to California’s citizens. The local public library is a gateway for intellectual curiosity, learning, and self-actualization in nearly every California community. It enhances the quality of individual and community life and provides pathways to success. As one of the most credible public institutions in our country, the inclusion and engagement of the public library is critical to producing successful community solutions for local issues. Public library boards of trustees are essential to the success of California’s public libraries. They help to see that the library delivers the best library services, has a top-notch director, follows excellent policies and practices, and keeps an eye to the future. California’s citizens and communities owe a debt of gratitude to those who volunteer their dedication, time, and talents to serve as library trustees. Trustees should know that they are making a real difference in their communities, and their efforts are reflected in every book that gets checked out, every program that is attended, every service the library offers, and in the support they show in the guidance of their library directors.