BCLTA Discussion Starter: Board Expenses

Trustees bring a breadth of experiences, skills, knowledge, and questions to public library board work. Board policies and practices vary across the province and BCLTA is focused on common issues of common concern for board development. We support trustees with the “why” and “how” of governance so that each board can respond with the best “what” for their public library and their community.

Your board chair, your library director, and BCLTA all have a role in helping you find further resources specific to your needs. The BC Public Libraries Branch staff are also available for your questions, particularly those regarding the Library Act. 

Your board expenses discussions might cover a wide range of topics such as:

  • Available board funds and expanding available funds
  • Policy development and oversight
  • Expenses and risk management
  • Professional development needs and outcomes
  • Out of pocket expenses related to board work
  • Developing an accessible and inclusive board


BCLTA Board Assessment and Development Resource Guide (2021)
Public Library Trustees Volunteering and Making a Difference in BC’s Communities: 2020 Snapshot (2021)

As well as frequently being under-acknowledged for their volunteer work on public library boards, BC public library trustees do not receive any monetary compensation, such as stipends or honorariums, for the time and effort that they give to the governance of BC public libraries. As we can see in this provincial snapshot, they are dedicated community volunteers and while this lack of monetary compensation may be understood as a positive or generous aspect of their commitment to public libraries and to their communities it has led to two different questions for the BCLTA.

  1. Is this lack of compensation for public library board work a barrier to board
  2. What other ways might trustees be supported, such as provincial recognition
    for their board work and dedicated funding for governance learning and
Alberta: Public Library Services Branch
  • Public Library Board Policies
  • This resource is in regards to the legislative requirements of Alberta and is not applicable to the BC Library Act. Any questions regarding the BC Library Act are to be referred to the BC Public Libraries Branch.
  • The board policies referred to in this resource, including a policy regarding board expenses is highly recommended for BC public library boards.
Gibsons and District Public Library
Building Your Board Development Committee
  • Vantage Point (2015)
  • Toolkit for building a strong committee and a strong board development committee is one of the components for knowing why, how, and where for board development expenses
Imagine Canada
  • Board Compensation Explained
    • brief points on the ethics of why board directors are not compensated for their work
    • This may support your board’s discussion regarding the need for policy and procedures for the reimbursement of pre-approved expenses and planned expenses for board meeting costs such as refreshments, transportation, and family care.
  • Board Development Explained
    • brief points regarding the need for a board development plan that is aligned with organizational priorities, supports individual trustee development and board success, and is purposeful in the use of organizational funds for board expenses.


Board Policies

Greater Victoria Public Library
North Vancouver District Public Library
Squamish Public Library
  • Policy Manual (2015) 2.16 Trustee Conference Attendance and Travel (p. 21)
  • Clearly outlines expectations of trustee attending conferences and events, such as providing a report; what the trustee can expect from the board for supporting their professional development; eligible expenses; and the process for pre-approval and reimbursement.
Terrace Public Library
Vancouver Island Regional Library
  • Board Procedural By-Law (2021) Reimbursement of Trustee Expenses (p. 8)
  • Note the brevity and concise language
  • notable phrase: “reasonable travelling and out of pocket expenses, including child care expenses”.
West Vancouver Memorial Library

Board Policy Manual (2018) Expense Reimbursement (p. 3-26)

Trustees are not entitled to be paid for their services, but may be reimbursed for
reasonable travel and out of pocket expenses, including child care expenses, necessarily
incurred by them in performing their duties under the Library Act.

The Board sets an annual budget amount for Trustee expenses to be allocated for
training and professional development, Chair attendance at key community events,
meeting supplies and refreshments.

© 2021 British Columbia Library Trustees Association. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 License.