This week our new Prince Edward County council advertised for applicants to sit on the library board. The library board sets the policy and the long-term vision and goals, leaving operations of the library such as selecting books and planning and executing programs, to staff.
The Southern Ontario Library Service document Planning the Transition to a New Board identifies some of the qualities that individuals applying to become board members should possess. Council is seeking applications from individuals who have a concern and pride for the community, firm connections in the community, the conviction that the public library is important to the life of the community, an ability to approach issues with an open mind, the courage to resist pressures which interfere with the community’s democratic right to library materials and service and lastly time and energy.
The retiring board at last month’s board meeting completed a legacy document. In that document they suggested that the major challenges for the incoming board are “Delivering on an ongoing basis, one consistent message to our stakeholders (the board speaking with one voice) to maintain the positive view they have of the library” and secondly “to achieve fundraising goals to bring the Picton expansion in on time and on budget.”
Every board that I have served has had challenges. It has been 20 years this year since we amalgamated six branches into one library. Several years later the Prince Edward County Archives came under the board’s direction as well. In that time we have automated and improved efficiency and brought all manner of new programs and services to the community.
Facing us now is a major expansion in the Picton “Time to Renew” project. It is probably the most ambitious project that the library has taken on, but also at the same time the most exciting. In order to stay on schedule and on budget there is a lot to be done before spring of 2019. To help with this there is a strong, hardworking fundraising committee led by chairperson Alexandra Bake. The board will also attend to housekeeping issues that cannot be ignored. On an ongoing basis the board at its’ monthly meeting reviews finances, policies and receives my report on the activities of the library.
It is important that prospective board members recognize the time commitment and attend all board meetings prepared to discuss the issues before the board. The board meets 10 months of the year and members may be required to sit on committees of the board that meet outside of regular board meetings. The term is four years.
According to the Public Libraries Act anyone interested in sitting on the library board must be a Canadian citizen, at least 18 years old, a resident of Prince Edward County and not employed by the library board or the municipality. The stipulations of the Act cover the bare minimum – a board member must be much more. A visit to the library web site at peclibrary.org might be helpful if you are considering making an application. If you click on “Home” you will see our strategic plan, the annual report for 2017 and some of the background information that the board gathered before launching the Time to Renew Project, as well as the Legacy Document prepared by the current board. These documents will give you a sense of the work and vision that previous boards have contributed.
A final note: A position on the board is volunteer only. The gratification comes from a sense that you are contributing to an organization that has the ability to reach and make better the lives of every single resident of the county. I am truly grateful for the generosity and creativity of this retiring board. I know that every person that sat at our board table over the last four years sincerely believed in the work of the County of Prince Edward Public Library and Archives and that they all strived to make it ever more effective.
– Barbara Sweet