BCLTA Governance Workbook: Appointing and Supporting the Library Director


Perhaps the most significant decision a board makes is who to appoint as the operational leader.

In doing this work an effective board will

  • be prepared by having already discussed and set direction for organizational development and succession planning
  • be aware of labour regulations and expected practices
  • do an environmental scan that answers:
    • What other BC public library boards have recently hired a library director? What advice do they have to offer? Would they share their process, including interview questions and assessment criteria? Did they work with an outside recruiter? If so, do they have recommendations?
    • What do other BC library director job invitations and job descriptions look like?
    • What is the local public sector hiring process and compensation packages?
    • Does the local government human resource department have any advice about recruitment to your community?
  • develop a recruitment and hiring plan that includes:
    • who to work with (trustee roles, outside expert, local government assistance)
    • job invitation, job description, and compensation package
    • expectations (who is responsible for what)
    • timelines (when will the job be posted, when will the committee meet, when will interviews start, by when will there be decision, what is the hoped for start date, and so on)
    • assessment guidelines or metrics (make sure your process is transparent and accountable)
  • seek advisement from others including:
    • human resource professionals
    • BC public boards who have recently hired a library director
    • A recruitment firm


An effective board supports the professional development and work of the library director. Clear expectations, a shared vision, and respectful and regular communications—particularly  between the board chair and the library director—have all been noted by board chairs and library directors as indicators of an effective board-and-library-director relationship.

Clear expectations may be different from the job description. Job descriptions outline the  role and responsibilities of the library director and may look very similar from one public library to another and will include language pertaining to:

  • operational execution and oversight of the board’s strategic plan
  • hiring and management of staff
  • budget development and management
  • day-to-day management of services, facilities, and resources

Expectations may be in the job posting with the job description and are about how the board expects the library director to do their work and achieve the strategic direction of the board.  Expectations may include language that describes desired behaviours, such as collaborative relationship building, inspiring and leading staff, and being a proactive problem solver.

Expectations should be measurable. It should be possible for the board chair and the library director to discuss and describe what is needed to meet expectations, the timelines, and what would demonstrate success.

A shared vision or purpose for the organization fuels the working relationship among the board, the board chair, and the library director. Successful boards appoint and support a library director who understands their vision and is able, with their proven skills and abilities, to develop and deliver operations that are focused on that vision. The board then respects the distinct roles and responsibilities of the library director to execute and manage operations.

If the organization is undergoing a vision or strategic review with a current library director, then they are partners in the process, and it is the board’s responsibility to ensure that the  current library director is supported to align operations with the new vision or strategic direction.

Respectful and regular communications support the professional development and work of the library director and include

  • regularly scheduled board chair-library director communications
  • respectful and professional intent and language
  • constructive feedback
  • concrete recognition of accomplishments and success
  • establishment of a resourced professional development plan
  • an annual performance review that is a culmination of the ongoing constructive feedback and support and includes predetermined fair criteria and process

Please see the resource BCLTA – ABCPLD Wise Practices:  Library Director Evaluation and Compensation.