BCLTA Governance Workbook: The Library Act

The Library Act and its regulations provide for the establishment and operation of public libraries in British Columbia.

There are four types of public libraries in BC: municipal libraries, regional library districts, public library associations, and integrated public library systems. The powers and duties of each type of library board vary slightly depending on the type of library. Library federations are established to support regional sharing and services.

The Act outlines how a public library is established, how its board is appointed, the term of office for library board members, the minimum structures of a library board, the minimum number of required meetings, the library board’s financial accountability requirements, and the general powers and duties of the library board.

The Act also outlines the powers and duties of the chief librarian (commonly known as the library director) and mandates that borrowing materials must be free of charge to residents of a library service area.

Under the Act, the Minister responsible for public libraries must appoint a librarian as director as part of the public service. The director is responsible, under the direction of the Minister, for administering this act, promoting the improvement and extension of public library service throughout British Columbia, and for apportioning funds to library boards and other public bodies approved by the Legislature (Library Act s.51(1-3)).

The Act recognizes the important governance and financial role of library trustees in supporting the operations of libraries on behalf of communities.

As a trustee you may wish to also become familiar with other related legislation and policies: Financial Information Act, Freedom of Information and Privacy Act, Local Government Act, Community Charter, employment standards, workplace safety and human rights code.