Small Public Library Management

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  • Description
  • Table of Contents
  • About the Authors
  • Reviews

Anyone at the helm of a small public library knows that every little detail counts. But juggling the responsibilities that are part and parcel of the job is far from easy. Finally, here's a handbook that includes everything administrators need to keep a handle on library operations, freeing them up to streamline and improve how the organization functions. It's packed with practical advice and numerous checklists for

  • Preparing budgets, writing financial reports, and working with the library board
  • Simplifying workflow through effective delegation
  • Collection development, including tips for effective weeding
  • Launching initiatives and outreach programs, such as adult literacy programming and homework help centers

"Tales from the Field" offer real-world perspectives from library directors across the country. From finance and HR to collection development, policy, and programming, this resource puts ready-to-use information at your fingertips.


1. Who Do You Work For?
The Public Library Defined
Where Are Public Libraries Located?
Administrative Structure and Governance
The Board of Trustees
Working with Local Officials
Library Policy Development
Long-Range Planning

2. Library Finances
Where Does the Money Come From?
Preparing a Budget
Budget Review

3. Personnel Management
Personnel Policies
Personnel Records
Work Schedules
Discipline and Grievances

4. Facilities
Defining Library Spaces
Safety Issues
Renovation, Expansion, New Construction
Access to Technology

5. Collection Management
Selection Criteria
Circulation Policy
Collection Evaluation, Weeding, and Preservation
Challenges to Library Materials

6. Services and Programs
Identifying the Proper Service Mix
Evaluating Services and Programs
Youth Services
Adult Services
Reference Services
Readers' Advisory
Technology and Library Service
Classes and Informal Instruction
Outreach Services
Community Use of Library Spaces
Promoting Services and Programs

7. The Library as Place
Developing a Community-Centered Philosophy
Library Advocacy
Keeping Up with Library Issues






Jane Pearlmutter

At the University of Wisconsin–Madison since 1985, Jane Pearlmutter has been responsible for organizing, marketing, and often teaching many continuing education programs in library and information studies, including core courses for public library director certification and leadership training for state library agencies. She also teaches graduate courses in management and collection development. An active member of the Wisconsin Library Association, she has been involved in advocacy and long-range planning for public libraries at the local, state, and national levels.

Paul Nelson

As a department head/assistant director (1978–1986) and library director (1986–2008), Paul Nelson has extensive experience in all aspects of public library administration: governance, advocacy, policy development, budgeting, personnel management, facilities planning, marketing, and long-range planning. Since the mid-1980s, he has provided more than one hundred workshops on these subjects to library systems in the upper Midwest. As Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Library and Information Studies, he teaches a reference and information services course and courses in public library management and library advocacy.

"A vitally useful handbook."
--Midwest Book Review

"Highly recommended to any small public library administrator—it will have a permanent place on this reviewer's nightstand."