BCLTA Bulletin March 2018

President’s Message

Jerrilyn Schembri


Jerrilyn at UBCM 2017. 
I keep thinking that spring is just about here and as I look out the window today…with snow falling yet again…spring can’t come soon enough.

Not that I don’t love snow, but we have had a lot, I mean A LOT of snow this year and I am very anxious to see all of the surprises of spring come our way. Not just because the snow will be gone but because I am really looking forward to seeing everyone in May at the BCLA and BCLTA conferences.

We have so many exciting things planned including a really good Governance Forum (May 12th) thanks to Babs, Jan, and the team. See you all there!!!

Your Libraries and Your Stories

Readers tell us that the “Your Libraries” section is important for making connections across the province and for inspiring or affirming their own board and library director work. If you have a story or photos that you would like to share about your board, your library, or your community, let us know by emailing Babs execdir@bclta.ca.

A huge thank you to Paul and Erin for sharing their trustee orientation and board development experiences for this issue of the Bulletin.


Elected Official & Library Trustee “Turning the ‘long list’ into Reality”
Submitted by Erin Carlson, Library Board Trustee, Okanagan Regional Library and BCLTA Board Director.

Erin and 6 month old daughter ready to make a difference! 

I celebrated my 30th birthday on Wednesday. My first born daughter is now six months old, and she is becoming a world traveler! This month, we are visiting our extended family in Holland and return home to Canada in April. We are currently adventuring through Portugal, but staying connected to our responsibilities through wifi (and extra coffee).

I am blessed to have had a happy and wholesome upbringing, built on imagination, activities, and good books. I’m also lucky to have seen lots of the world. My life experiences have allowed me to delve into the world of decision making at a relatively young age.

I am a member (council liaison for Summerland since 2015) of the Okanagan Regional Library board and have been on the BCLTA board for 2 years now. I attended the BCLTA AGM, conference and Trustee Orientation (TOPs) in 2016. TOPs was a good course for reinforcing the purpose, goals, and of course decision making guidelines for trustees and boards. It continues to be a valuable tool for making sure a board is on track, makes good decisions and is successful.

As I look back to the election in 2014, I recognize how much I have learned through participation on both city council and the library boards. I also reflect on how much can be done when a group of elected officials can set a direction and work positively with management staff to turn the ‘long list’ into reality. The BCLTA board has worked hard and worked well together to improve the value we provide to our membership. There is always more to be done, but I believe our board and ED have found a good balance over the past couple of years.

Being on maternity leave doesn’t get me off the hook from my responsibilities to these decision making teams. I continue to attend meetings, conference calls, and conferences. Often I bring my baby and she is always welcome.

Although I haven’t decided what my next step is, I know I will continue to experience life in a way that will allow me to teach my daughter that she too can participate and hopefully make a difference.


The Life of a Library Trustee
Submitted by Paul Tutsch, Library Board Trustee, Whistler Public Library and BCLTA Board Director.


I have been very fortunate to have had the privilege of being a Trustee of 2 BC public libraries.

When I joined the first board, I knew very little about libraries and, like many parents, hadn’t been in a library since my children were young!! I knew very little about libraries and what I did know was outdated by a quarter century!!

The fundamentals, such as a cultural centre open to all, were still the same but the methods had certainly changed! But I was quickly educated on my responsibilities via the then Trustee Orientation Program (TOP) and informal and formal board development activities.

Both libraries went through some significant changes during my tenure: significant asset development in one, hiring new chief librarians in both and development of 3 Strategic Plans in 15 years to map out our future.

The selection and retention of a library director is one of the most important, if not THE most important, responsibilities of the Board of Trustees. And the more experienced and better trained and informed, the better the likelihood of choosing the right candidate.

What kind of training is helpful?

  • A decent understanding of the BC Libraries Act, especially the sections relating to trustee responsibilities.
  • A decent understanding of how your library operates, how it is viewed by the community it serves and how it compares to similar size libraries.
  • A reasonable understanding of the relative strengths and weaknesses of your Board of Trustees achieved by conducting a disciplined survey.

In retrospect, I now see that my training and experience gained in 15 years as a Library Trustee prepared me very well for being a board member of other Not-for-Profits or Societies in my community.

I learned the importance of vision, insight and forward thinking.

I learned the importance and value of volunteering.

I have been better able to advance the cause of other not-for-profits.

That’s what I call “A win-win-win”!!

BC Public Library News and Happenings 

BC Libraries Cooperative Announces New Managing Director!

BCLTA looks forward to working with Kevin Millsip who took on the role of Managing Director at the BCLC on March 13th. Find out more about Kevin and the work of BCLC here. 

Trail and District Public Library Grand Opening April 2nd!

  • From the Trail Riverfront Centre website:

The facility houses the Trail and District Public Library, the Trail Museum and Archives and the Visitor Information Centre. The new location of these services provides easy downtown access for library/museum-goers and visitors to the area. Grand Opening, April 2, 2018. 

Reading Lights

  • Vancouver Public Library Children’s Writers and Illustrators of B.C. Society
  • From the Reading Lights website:

Reading Lights celebrates the work of B.C. children’s book authors and illustrators and offers unexpected encounters with an array of stories for children and their families near parks, playgrounds, schools and libraries throughout Vancouver. Intended to spark an interest in stories and reading, the program features excerpts of books and illustrations on lamp posts across the city for all to enjoy. 

sxʷeŋxʷəŋ təŋəxʷ James Bay Branch

  • The Greater Victoria Public Library will soon be opening a new branch in James Bay.
  • sxʷeŋxʷəŋ təŋəxʷ is the Lekwungen name for James Bay and you can find out more about the branch, the naming process, as well as practice saying sxʷeŋxʷəŋ təŋəxʷ it with the help of a wav file of the pronounciation by Songhees Nation Elder Dr. Elmer Seniemten George here.

The Lab is launched!

  • On March 1st, West Vancouver Memorial Library launched their new digital learning place.
  • From the media release

The Lab presents a new vision for digital learning in B.C. public libraries. Designed for active participation and social interaction, it transforms learning into a collaborative and creative experience. 

“The District of West Vancouver is proud to support The Lab at West Vancouver Memorial Library,” says Mayor Michael Smith. “This creative new learning space gives equal opportunity for community members to develop and practise the digital skills necessary for succeeding in school and at work. These skills are also critical for people to feel socially included in today’s world.”

Check This Out – a public library radio show

  • Nelson Public Library in partnership with Kootenay Co-op Radio
  • Programs have covered Freedom to Read Week, the Human Library, what the Friends of the Library do, collection development, screen writing and more.
  • From the website:

… a radio show about all things Library: readers’ advisory, secrets revealed, bibliophiliac discussion from analog to digital, and the ever-evolving landscape of reading and knowledge. 

ReadRadio Podcast

  • Fraser Valley Regional Library

From the January 31st media release

“ReadRadio, an initiative of our online Reading Room, is a great example of how FVRL delivers new and engaging online services to the community”, says Heather Scoular, Director of Customer Experience. FVRL’s ReadRadio is unique in the world of library podcasts, as we are the first Canadian public library to use the medium as a recommendation platform.”

The Okanagan Regional Library’s CEO is sailing away

  • Stephanie Hall will be missed as a strong voice for BC public libraries!
  • From ORL:

Stephanie Hall has been the CEO since February of 2013, but come March, she will be resigning in order to sail around the world on the tallship Picton Castle.

Board and Trustee Development: BC Public Libraries

The following is a sample of what is available through your BC public library network for supporting your library board development planning and strategic discussions. When the new BCLTA website is launched early this summer we look forward to providing a one-stop current place for you to submit and find more resources such as these.

Surrey Libraries

Information Package for Prospective Library Trustees 

Fort St. John Public Library

Policies and Procedures Manual

Very useful section 1.5 Policies and Procedures for the Board of Trustees, in particular for PLAs. The clarity of board role descriptions is relevant to all boards.


  • Authority and Structure of the Board
  • Responsibilities of the Board
  • Duties of the Board Chair
  • Duties of the Board Vice-Chair
  • Duties of the Treasurer
  • Duties of the Chief Librarian
  • Duties of the Secretary
  • Board Meetings
  • Board Conduct
  • Board Committees

Vancouver Island Regional Library

The Library Act portion of trustee orientation frequently raises curiosity about the different board types and procedures across the province, particularly in regards to the regional library boards of Okanagan (ORL), Fraser Valley (FVRL), and Vancouver Island (VIRL) Regional Libraries.

The VIRL Board of Trustees Procedural By-Law provides insight to regional board membership, responsibilities and procedures.

Prince George Public Library

  • Easy to find and use Board page – stellar first step in recruiting and orienting new trustees!
  • Includes photos, bios, what the board does (including time commitments) and how to apply to be on the board.  

Libraries Branch 

  • Responsible for the BC Public Library Act, with which trustees should be familiar.
  • As well this is where you will find the BC public library stats and information about SOFI.

BCLTA May 12th Governance Forum

Please join us for a day of governance topics, roundtable discussions, and action planning.

Why are we calling this year’s event a forum, rather than the usual conference?

Feedback from previous conferences told us of a desire for an event and experience that was purposefully developed to be a meeting place where all could express their ideas, share experiences, and exchange views on issues and trends regarding public library governance and leadership.

This is intended to be that place.

Your Governance Forum.

This day long forum (full agenda here) is directed at public library trustees and library directors. This is your time for making connections across the province and for talking about your libraries, your communities, and governance.

  • Saturday, May 12th.
  • 8:30am to 4pm
  • Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel (7551 Westminster Hwy)
  • Registration is now open, please register here.
  • The fee is $150

Roundtable Discussions: Trustees and library directors from across the province connecting and learning. 

The BCLTA is grateful for the support of the Richmond Public Library for hosting the Sunday TOP and Chairing the Board sessions, and for the financial assistance of the Libraries Branch, Ministry of Education.

BCLTA 2018 AGM  

All members are invited to participate in the AGM and conference registration is not required for the AGM.

The AGM will take place at the Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel  (7551 Westminster Hwy) on May 12th, starting at 4pm.

This AGM will take place in the same room as the Governance Forum.

There will be onsite registration for the AGM.

Please check our AGM page for updates on board nominations, reports, and the agenda.


The Trustee Orientation Program isn’t just for new trustees! It is for the whole board, including library directors and experienced trustees. Find out more about TOP in the Trustee’s Education section of the website at bclta.ca and please ask us questions!

If you would like a TOP session in your area, click on the “Request a Training Session” link and Jan, BCLTA’s Administrative Assistant, will respond to your questions and ensure that everything is in place for a successful session. A minimum of 10 participants is required for the session to proceed.

We also provide easy access to the TOP workbook and webinars in the Member section of the website.

TOP webinar part 1 covers areas such as trustee responsibilities and governance versus management. Part 2 then continues the orientation with core board responsibilities such as external relations, oversight of the library, and establishing practices for board development. 

Upcoming TOP Sessions 

Register here for one of the following sessions or request a session here. 

  • April 22nd, Prince George
  • April 28th, West Vancouver
  • May 5th, Chetwynd
  • May 5th, Squamish
  • May 13th, Richmond

There will also be a Chairing the Board session with Vantage Point’s Denise Baker on May 13th in Richmond.

Announcing the TOP Team!

We have a strong team of TOP facilitators across the province that will be working with the BCLTA ED to improve the TOP experience. Huge thanks to Andy Ackerman (Fort St. John), Melanie Wilke (Terrace), Mike Gagel (Prince George), Kyla Epstein (Vancouver), and Joanne Richards (Castlegar) for the experience, skills, and commitment that they bring to TOP.  

2017 TOP Refresh / Rethink Recommendations Update

We are making our way through the recommendations proposed by the TOP Rethink / Refresh Advisory Committee for improving the development, delivery, and results of trustee orientation across BC.

The recommendations and updates are:

  1. That BCLTA, through its website, provide usefully organized and annotated resources for trustee orientation and ongoing board development.
    • The work is underway and will be up with our new website (being developed by BCLC expertise!) later this spring.

2. That BCLTA establish a trustee orientation check-list, in consultation with the Libraries Branch and ABCPLD. This checklist will ensure a shared understanding and information baseline for trustee orientation across the province, regarding the Library Act, current work of the board, the library, and the provincial context.

    • First iteration of the checklist is done and can be found here!

3. That BCLTA support a working group, which includes the Libraries Branch, 2 library directors, 2 trustees (at least one a BCLTA director), a TOP trainer, and a federation manager to update and review the TOP manual.

    • We are working with the Libraries Branch on a process that will involve feedback from the public library community and a one day work-fest, hopefully in early summer, to update the manual.
    • In the meantime, the TOP facilitators are working together to review the manual and to provide the TOP session participants with the most up-to-date information. The current manual is still useful and relevant; we just want to make it better.

4. That BCLTA work with the Libraries Branch and ABCPLD to recruit, train, and support TOP facilitators.

    • We now have a strong team of facilitators and are working closely with them to ensure that they have everything they need to provide you with everything you expect and need from a TOP session.

5. That BCLTA work with the Libraries Branch to develop a one-pager, similar to the OLA’s Cut to the Chase and the Saskatchewan Public Library Governance in a Nutshell.

    • This is on the books for later this year!

6. That once equitable connectivity is established across the province, BCLTA will work with BCLA, ABCPLD, BCLC, and the Libraries Branch to investigate and consider an user-friendly, low cost, collaborative online learning platform as a shared province-wide library initiative to support staff and trustee learning and development.

Links & Discussion Starters

Below is a quick list of resources for trustee orientation and board development.

Other areas that are important for board development include, but are not limited to, measuring, assessment, community engagement, advocacy and influence, financial acumen and budget oversight, hiring a chief librarian and other HR responsibilities, strategic thinking and planning, and overall legal and fiduciary responsibilities of the board.

We will cover these areas, and more, in future Bulletins and on our website.

Please send your favourite and wisest board resources to Babs for sharing.



  • Leading with Intent
  • Results and analysis of a 2017 study on trends for non-profit boards, including board roles and responsibilities, performance indicators and assessment, and the importance of recruiting and developing for racial and ethnic diversity. 

BC School Trustees Association

  • Good Governance for Boards of Education
  • A top quality and very thorough curriculum that is applicable to BC public library trustees.
  • There are four modules:
    • Module 1: Authentic Governance through Ethical Leadership
    • Module 2: Relationships and Governance: Common Ground, Common Purpose
    • Module 3: Authentic Governance for Student Achievement: Boards Matter!
    • Module 4: Making the Connections for Students Success: Aligning vision, governance and finance 

Vantage Point

The Vantage Point website is full of resources and services such as:

Southern Ontario Library Services

Tamarack Institute

  • Collaborative Leadership
  • This site also has many resources for explaining current trends in community engagement, civic leadership, and collective impact. 

Board Building: Recruiting and Developing Effective Board Members for Not-for-Profit Organizations

  • The Muttart Foundation and Alberta Culture and Community Spirit (2008).
  • Practical self-guided work book
  • Chapter 2, Orienting, Training, and Developing the Board
    • Orientation, training, experience and recognition are all part of board development
    • Results in a common frame of reference, skills, motivation, attitudes essential for mutual support, confidence and engagement.
    • Overview of value added activities (p.48), check lists for orientation (p.50), opportunities for dialogue and other learning sessions (p.52)
    • Simple and solid pointers on offering recognition (p.54) 

A Winning Board, Steps that Bring out the Best

  • First Nonprofit Foundation (2010)
  • Of particular interest is section 5, Educate, Educate, Educate (p.14)
  • As well as knowing about the operations and context of the board work, a board needs to be educated on the mission, governance, and community. 

Canadian Society of Association Executives

  • A small selection of freely available resources such as the 3 minute video “What is the Board’s Job?”.

Imagine Canada

  • A small selection of freely available resources, such as examples for sharing messages and telling stories.

Calls to Action


Minister Fleming with Prince George Public Library Board Chair and BCLTA Director Mike Gagel, October 2017. 


1.    Advocacy and Influence

The BCLTA Trustee Advocacy and Influence Framework is an update to the 2015 BCLTA Advocacy Toolkit. We kept what worked and expanded the information and suggestions to encompass the idea that some of the most important work you do as trustees is influencing and supporting other community leaders to champion the value of the public library.

BCLTA will be developing advocacy materials (for example posters, social media, advocacy tips flashcards) with our library partners to support advocacy efforts in 2018, and in particular for the 2018 municipal elections.

Review and use the framework and let us know what you think, particularly any useful practices and resources to add.

And remember to use the key messages that are being used by the BC public library associations (BCLA, ABCPLD and BCLTA). We have learned that consistent and shared messaging is how powerful and effective advocacy and influence builds momentum and has an impact.

Government Consultations

Local, provincial and federal government consultations are one way for trustees and boards to spread the word about the value of public libraries and our shared priorities for ongoing public library development.

Provincial government engagement opportunities can be found at the govTogetherBC website.

There is still time to contribute your thoughts and stories to the BC Poverty Reduction engagement process which closes March 30, 2018 at 4pm.

Federal government engagement opportunities are posted to the Government of Canada Activities and Initiatives section of their website and at specific ministries (e.g. Minister of Indigenous Services, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Innovation, Science and Economic Development). Updates on national engagement opportunities specifically relevant to libraries can be found through the Canadian Federation of Library Associations/Fédération Canadienne des associations de bibliothèques.


2.    2018 Compensation Study 

The BC Library Director Compensation Survey is scheduled for June 2018, with a report out in the late fall of 2018.

There have been requests from board chairs and library directors for the survey to include questions regarding board and library director roles and responsibilities. Contact Babs at execdir@bclta.ca with any questions, comments, and advisement regarding this survey and report.

The results from this study are used by boards and library directors across the province for recruiting, hiring, and strategic budget decisions – please contribute to its development and execution. We will be working towards 100%-member participation.

Hot Topics Survey 

We have had requests from trustees and library directors for a quick survey regarding the current or upcoming hot topics for board meetings. You request, we deliver!

This mini survey will only take a few minutes of your time and can be found here

We are asking for:

  1. Brief self-description of library. Such as mid-size, north-west BC.
  2. If you are responding for yourself or for the board.
  3. Hot topics that are currently being discussed at your board meetings.
  4. Hot topics that are coming up, or you hope come up, for your board meetings.

You will be able to list as many topics as you want. Examples include: diversity, cannabis sales, new library plans, staff development, opioid crisis, board recruitment and succession planning, hiring, funding, connectivity, 2018 local government elections, reconciliation …

The results will:

  • Inform the Trustee Roundtable discussions at the May Forum
  • Point us in the direction of what resources and information you would like to find on the new website.
  • Inspire and inform board discussions across the province.
  • Be shared out as an anonymized summary in the June/July issue of the Bulletin.

Final Words and Thank you

My first thank you is to all of you who are keeping BCLTA staff (Jan and I) very busy with governance and public library information and resource questions, arranging TOP sessions, prepping for the new website, and of course with the BCLTA May 12th Governance Forum and AGM. Our work only matters when we are doing it for you and we are especially looking forward to seeing so many of you in person in May!

My next thank you is to our Library Partners. Our work in 2018 will be even better than 2017 (which was pretty awesome!) because of how we are working with the Association of Public Library Directors (ABCPLD), the BC Library Association (BCLA) and the BC Libraries Cooperative (BCLC). The Ministry of Education has commented that our advocacy is more effective together as we meet and communicate with a strong agenda and shared consistent messages. We will continue with that approach with the Ministry of Education and with other Ministries as we develop connections across the government that will make a difference to public libraries, such as in regards to connectivity. We will also continue with that approach for developing advocacy materials for the 2018 local government elections and as we prepare for UBCM 2018.

You may have also noticed that this year, BCLTA is part of the BCLA conference. We have worked closely with BCLA and ABCPLD to bring a full day (May 11th) of sessions that will be of interest to public library boards and library directors. We are working with BCLC for our new website and it is gratifying to work with friends and colleagues who know the BC public library community and will build with us a website that will work best for serving all of you.

We value our partners! Pictured here from UBCM 2016, Jenny Benedict, Chair of
ABCPLD and Annette DeFaveri, Executive Director of BCLA.

My closing thoughts on trustee orientation and board development are prompted by the release, earlier this year, of the Nova Scotia Glaze report, Raise the Bar: A Coherent and Responsive Education Administrative System for Nova Scotia. This report points to the importance of our shared responsibility and work for equity, excellence, transparency, and responsibility in public sector governance. The first part of Recommendation 1 (p.23) reads:

The seven governing (elected) regional school boards should be eliminated. Unfortunately, in Nova Scotia, at this time, I cannot ignore what I have heard: the dismissals of elected boards several times over the past decade; confused, unclear roles and responsibilities; a wide variety of performance from board to board; too many conflicting policies; transparency issues; an unhealthy level of acclaimed candidates and a lack of fresh voices; constituents not knowing their local board members, nor the roles they played, and so on. 

Trustee orientation and board development for strong effective governance and public libraries, does not happen in isolation. It is about our community networks, how we broaden them and our thinking, and how we demonstrate inclusivity and diversity through community involvement, board membership, development, policies, and other governance practices.

It is a privilege to do this important work with all of you.

As always, if you have any questions about what your association is doing, or feedback on what we could be doing for trustees and boards, please let me know.

Huy tseep q’u, miigwetch, thank you,
Babs Kelly

Posted in BCLTA Bulletin.