You are here

Trustee Update

"Library News You Can Use"

The Trustee Update newsletter provides information to help library trustees perform their important job well. It is published three times each year-- Spring, Summer & Fall-- and is sent to library trustees’ email addresses.

For more information about Wisconsin library law, trustee responsibilities, and library administration, or if you have questions about library advocacy, marketing, or printing Trustee Essentials, please contact Tracie Miller, SCLS Public Library Administration Consultant, at (608) 246-5612.

You can access an archived .pdf copy, or see the Table of Contents for each issue, in the Trustee Update Archive.

For more information, contact: 

Trustee Update Vol. 14, No. 2–June 2021

Webinars scheduled Aug. 23-27

Registration Open for Trustee Training Week 2021 

Registration is now open for Wisconsin Trustee Training Week 2021, which will be held Aug. 23-27. There will be one webinar each day from noon to 1 p.m. on a topic that’s relevant to public library boards, friends, and trustees. Webinars are available free of charge and are open to anyone.

The schedule of presentations is as follows:

  • Monday Aug. 23 -- Wisconsin Library Ecosystem -- What is a library ecosystem and why is it important? In general terms, an ecosystem is a complex network or interconnected system. In the webinar, you’ll learn about the different partners involved in this ecosystem, beginning with a statewide perspective on how Wisconsin’s public libraries work. You will then move through the public library system and the importance of system membership, then finish with libraries at the local level. Along the way, you’ll explore the statutory language that comes into play at each level, and presenters will provide links to resources that can be helpful.
  • Tuesday Aug. 24 -- Departures & Arrivals: Transitions and Succession Planning -- Trustees will learn how to successfully prepare for the departure of a director due to retirement or moving to a new library. This session will cover what the current director and board must put in place prior to the placement of a new director and discuss the role of trustees in successfully onboarding a new director and the transition of them into their new role. Presenters will provide a checklist of items to prepare for new library directors that will be supplied after the presentation.
  • Wednesday Aug. 25 -- Self-awareness for Social Justice Ally-ship -- In this session, participants will be invited to explore privilege, prejudice, and inclusion through story-telling and critical self-reflection. This session is interactive and will explore both individual and collective aspects of practicing social justice.
  • Thursday Aug. 26 -- Library Ethics 101: What Would You Do? -- Public libraries face ethical issues all the time. This session aims to create an open discussion about library core values and ethics. Inspired by a session at the 2020 Public Library Association Conference, the program provides real library ethical scenarios, followed by a discussion with a panel of experienced trainers. Presenters will discuss sticky situations when personal ethics and professional ethics differ. This is a highly interactive session, and audience participation is encouraged. Attendees will leave with a list of helpful resources and books.
  • Friday Aug. 27 -- Trustee Leadership: Bringing it All Together -- It’s the end of Trustee Training Week! It’s time to take what you’ve learned and apply it at your library. Join this discussion about how to support and develop the library’s vast, interconnected ecosystem by applying servant leadership.

You must register for each webinar individually at More information, including bios of the presenters, is also available at the link above, and you can also access recordings from the 2015-19 webinars.

Trustee Training Week is sponsored by the South Central Library System, with financial support from other Wisconsin Public Library Systems, plus the Division for Libraries and Technology and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

Recordings of other SCLS Continuing Education webinars are available on the SCLS website at


Cornerstone 2021: Save the Dates for Wisconsin Rapids & Monona!

Typically, in the past, the South Central Library System (SCLS) Foundation Board has picked one or two individuals to honor as outstanding advocates for public libraries within SCLS. This year the board will honor all the library staff working within SCLS.

Trying to keep libraries open and pivoting to provide services to folks locked down at home has been the challenge of a lifetime. The staff at all SCLS libraries and at the South Central Library System have been working tirelessly, and it is time to recognize the herculean effort on everyone’s part.

There will be two events to allow everyone access to a convenient location. Staff may attend one or both events at no charge.

  • Sept. 20, 2021
    Bullseye Golf Club in Wisconsin Rapids
    2800 Ridgewood Trail, overlooking the Wisconsin River
    5:30-7:30 p.m.
    Hors d’oeuvres and cash bar
  • Oct. 7, 2021
    Buck and Honey’s in Monona
    800 W Broadway, Suite 300, overlooking the Yahara River
    5:30-7:30 p.m.
    Hors d’oeuvres and cash bar

Corporate sponsors for the 2021 Cornerstone Reception are Delta PropertiesEnvisionwareHausmann-Johnson InsuranceOverDrivePTFS LibLime, and St. John Properties.

More details about this year’s Cornerstone receptions will be available later.


Library Board Composition Spelled Out in Chapter 43

A number of questions have come up recently from library directors and trustees about library board composition, more specifically about how many non-municipal residents can serve on the library board, whether the school district representative factors into this count, and whether any county appointments to the library board also count.

First of all, let’s look at the statutory language in 43.54(1)(a), which reads in part:

…Members shall be residents of the municipality, except that not more than 2 members may be residents of other municipalities…

The statutory language is clear that library trustees must be residents of the municipality, except that not more than 2 members may be residents of other municipalities, which means another city, village or town. This language is important because the question about the school district representative selected by the district administrator flows from it.

It is the interpretation of the Division for Libraries and Technology (DLT) at the Department of Public Instruction that if the school district representative lives outside the municipality, that person counts as one of the two allowed. This opinion is available in a DLT website FAQ at

In the section of the FAQ related to non-resident appointments, the DLT writes:

There is no requirement that residents or representatives outside the library's municipal area serve on the library board. The statute does permit that no more than two board members may reside outside the municipality [43.54(1)], but if the mayor or municipal board president does not wish to appoint representatives from outside the municipal boundaries, that is their choice. However, if the school superintendent's selection resides outside the municipality, the village must appoint that person, and the appointment would count as one of the two possible representatives from outside the municipality.

Appointing non-municipal residents to the library board is optional, so it’s important to note that because Chapter 43 sets these guidelines, neither the municipal board nor the library board can approve guidelines, ordinances, or bylaws that set a different standard.

The online FAQ from the DLT further states that trustee appointments by the county board “do not count in the limit of two non-resident appointments, and the appointments add to the number of board members for the library board.” This county appointment authority is at the discretion of the county board, and most counties within the South Central Library System do not make such appointments.

As is always the case, if you have questions about this statutory language contact Mark Ibach at 608-246-5612 or


‘Short Takes for Trustees’ is Excellent Educational Tool

The job of library trustee can be challenging at times, but a South Central Library System (SCLS) subscription to Short Takes for Trustees is an excellent educational tool that can help make trustees more effective and efficient.

Short Takes for Trustees is a series of 10 short videos (8-10 minutes each) that explore the important role Trustees play in the governance of their libraries. Utilizing an interview format, United for Libraries Executive Director Sally Gardner Reed covers topics such as what it means to be a trustee, as well as how to set policy, how to evaluate the library director and board self-evaluation, and the ethical and parliamentary standards for boards. Topics for videos are: What it Means to be a Trustee, Board Meetings, Board Ethics, Library Advocacy, Library Policies, Strategic Planning, Working with Friends, Evaluating the Library Director, Board Self Evaluation, and Succession Planning and New Board Orientation. To access this resource, visit The username and password was previously sent to all SCLS library directors, who can share that information with Trustees. If your library doesn’t have this information, contact Jean Anderson. The SCLS subscription includes these additional webinars:

  • Troubled Library Boards: Prevention & Survival -- What essential practices can prevent or minimize board problems? When a board does become dysfunctional, how can those involved survive and create change?
  • With Friends Like These -- Based on her recently published book The Good, the Great, and the Unfriendly: A Librarian’s Guide to Working Effectively with Friends, Sally Gardner Reed discusses ways to work with Friends who go rogue, how to bring them back in line, and what to do when nothing works.
  • Merging Your Library’s Friends Group and Foundation -- Presenters Peter Pearson and Sue Hall discuss the difference in the roles of Friends and foundations and identify areas where there can be conflict -- and present strategies for minimizing conflict. They also address the question, “When is it time for the two organizations to merge?”

Short Takes is available to all library Trustees and staff in the South Central Library System.