The Public Library Director’s Toolkit

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"How do we remain relevant to our communities while remaining fiscally responsible? To meet this challenge, we need to learn to do more to collect, analyze and use data to make decisions. And then use that information to advocate for our libraries in our communities, states, and at the national level."

Read an interview with the authors now!

New public library directors quickly learn what seasoned directors already know: running a library means you’ve always got your hands full—balancing the needs of staff, patrons, facilities, library boards, and other stakeholders with professional responsibilities like community interactions, legal and financial requirements, and whole lot else that wasn’t exactly in the job description. Whether you are considering becoming a public library director, are brand new to the role, or have settled in but find yourself thinking “there’s got to be a better way,” authors Hall and Parker are here to help. This book walks you through the core components of getting up to speed and then provides templates, sample documents, checklists, and other resources that will make your job easier. Gleaned from their own decades of experience in library leadership positions, in this toolkit they

  • cover such key topics as employees, trustees, finances, legal issues, library policies, emergency planning, and technology;
  • discuss strategic planning and share advice on keeping up with trends;
  • offer nearly two dozen ready-to-use resources, including a Director’s Report Template, a Social Media Policy, an Employee Exit Questionnaire, a Library Cleaning Checklist, a Vision Statement worksheet, and more; and
  • suggest additional learning opportunities in each chapter to help you continue your learning journey.

Public library directors can steer clear of common pain points by relying on the expert guidance and organizational aids in this toolkit.


Part I    Director Toolbox

Chapter 1    Getting Started
Chapter 2    Employees
Chapter 3    Trustees
Chapter 4    Finances
Chapter 5    Legal Matters
Chapter 6    Policies and Procedures
Chapter 7    Insurance
Chapter 8    Buildings
Chapter 9    Emergency Planning
Chapter 10    Technology
Chapter 11    Strategic Plan
Chapter 12    What Next?

Part II    Tools

Sample 1.1    Library Director Training Checklist
Sample 1.2    Director’s Report Template
Sample 2.1    New Hire Checklist
Sample 2.2    Librarian Job Description
Sample 2.3    Unpaid Leave of Absence Policy
Sample 2.4    Social Media Policy
Sample 2.5    Disciplinary Policy
Sample 2.6    Termination Checklist
Sample 2.7    Employee Exit Questionnaire
Sample 3.1    Trustee Welcome Letter
Sample 3.2    Library Board versus Director Role
Sample 4.1    Revenues Budget Template
Sample 4.2    Expenses Budget Template
Sample 6.1    Public Code of Behavior Policy
Sample 6.2    Unattended Children and Vulnerable Adults Policy
Sample 6.3    Gifts and Donations Policy
Sample 7.1    Incident and Accident Report Form
Sample 8.1    Library Cleaning Checklist
Sample 9.1    Person-in-Charge Emergency Responses
Sample 11.1    Strategic Plan Visual Summary
Sample 11.2    Mission Statement Worksheet
Sample 11.3    Vision Statement Worksheet


Kate Hall

Kate Hall has been a Library Director since 2010; first at New Lenox and now at Northbrook Public Library.  Kate has held numerous library leadership positions and has worked with Kathy Parker on the successful Director’s University program that has taught over 100 new library directors what they need to know to run a library. Kate is active on many boards, including serving previously on the Illinois Library Association Executive Board and as President on the Reaching Across Illinois Library System.

Kathy Parker

Kathy Parker has over 35 years of library experience, with 16 serving as library director at Glenwood-Lynwood Public Library.  Kathy has participated on various library boards and has served as a library trustee at her local library and in the regional library system, and started several continuing education initiatives for library staff and trustees.  Kathy retired in summer 2018 and has started her own consulting business serving as an interim director, offering coaching to new directors, and helping boards hire directors.

"Carefully crafted ... An easily digested feast of practical wisdom sure to appeal to aspiring library directors as well as those currently in the position, especially if they are new to the job. LIS students considering a public library management career might also want to take a taste.”
— Booklist

"Written in a clear and cogent style that makes even sometimes dry topics interesting ... would be a valuable purchase for any public library professional collection, aspiring directors, or students interested in public library work.”
— Catholic Library World

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