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Public Library Board of Trustees: Hiring a New Library Director

Hiring a New Director

Hiring a library director is one of the most important jobs of the library board; after all, it’s even one of the powers given in Century Code, “employ qualified personnel to administer the public library and dispense library services" (§40-38-04).

When starting the hiring process, the board should establish an initial timeline that includes appointment of the search committee, review of the job description and posting it to websites, newspapers, etc., deadline for applications, review period, interview timeframe, and the anticipated start date. The search committee can be the whole board, but it could also be a combination of board members, staff members, and community members.

The board will also need to make sure that they are aware of and educated in current library practices, benchmarks imposed by the  Standards for Public Libraries, current needs and direction of the library, and competitive professional salaries and benefits. These things will all help form the overall job posting and announcement.

The job description itself can be based on the previous director’s job description. But trustees should also look at the director’s responsibilities and make edits and revisions where necessary. Some responsibilities may include the following:

  • Professional/technical advisor to the library board on policy, finances, planning, library performance, laws affecting libraries, etc.
  • Hires and supervises personnel
  • Implements board policies and interprets library policies for the public
  • Administers the library budget
  • Develops the library collection
  • Manages library services and programs
  • Directs and provides outreach services to the community
  • Manages and maintains the library facility, computer technology, the library's automation system, etc.
  • Represents the library in the community and promotes the library and its services
  • Teaches the community how to access, evaluate, and use information resources
  • Works with local government officials as a department head
  • In smaller libraries, the library director may also provide storytimes, book clubs, reference services, and circulation.

The job description also needs to include minimum requirements for education and work experience, desirable areas of expertise, areas of responsibility, specific duties, salary and benefits, probation period, expectations for successful job performance, physical and environmental requirements of the job, and certification requirements. 

Once the job description has been finalized, the board should look at their pay scale for the director to make sure that it is competitive; this will ensure that the library can secure a qualified director. Pay should be comparable to city/school district positions with similar requirements and responsibilities. While it is common practice for library boards to look at the salaries library directors in nearby libraries, this isn’t always the best practice due to the common practice of under-paying library directors.

The job announcement itself should include the job description and pay scale along with a description of the library and community. Make sure to request reference and resumes as well. The job announcement should then be advertised on the local website and social media, North Dakota Library Association's Job Listings page, and other listservs and associations that the board deems relevant. Some cities have requirements about how jobs need to be advertised, so check in with the city or county’s Human Resources department before placing ads.

More information about the interview and hiring process including interview questions and sample job descriptions can be found in the resources below: