Trustee job #1: Recruit a Qualified Director

All libraries face issues of recruitment, retention, and evaluation. This Trustee Tuesday mini-series will deal with the major barriers to library trustees fulfilling their role as supervisor of a qualified director.

Part 1: Recruitment


Your director is leaving? Your director has left? Disruption is not easy for any organization, and unexpected disruption in leadership can set a library’s program back months or years. As a board, even when you love the director in place, you should be able to answer the following questions without using the current director’s name:

* Why do you love your library?
* What are your most successful services?
* What are your most impactful services?
* How are those services implemented?
* What is the library’s strategic vision for improving services and filling gaps?

The answers to those questions will inform three documents that will help you in the recruitment and hiring of a new director: Job Announcement, Position Description, Employment Contract.
Job Announcement
The Job Announcement is the blurb that goes in The PennySaver or the Shopper. The tone of the Announcement should be positive. It should describe what is excellent about the library and the community it serves. In one sentence, you should tell the reader the dispositions you are seeking in the leader of your organization.
For libraries that can’t pay the incoming director a salary that is “commensurate with experience” or “competitive”, it is also helpful to state the number of hours (or range) and hourly wage rate in the Announcement, as well as the Description.
Let applicants know what the preferred submission date is. Don’t forget to include an email for candidates to write to with questions and to send their cover letter, resume, and references to! Include a link to the full Position Description. For ads that charge for space, use a link shortener like, [,], [,] or []
Send your Announcement, linking to the Position Description (or just both documents), to STLS for posting on our Job Opportunities board. We’ll ask if you would like it sent to SCRLC, WNYLRC, or RRLC (depending on your location) for inclusion on their job sites. (When the position is filled, ask us to remove your Announcement.)
Position Description
Many libraries ask me for a Library Director Position Description when they are faced with the recruitment process. I send them this: Sample Position Description []. It has all the elements you need, but it also has some real problems because it isn’t specific to the institution. If you know the hours you need the Director to work, include them (instead of “flexible hours”). If you took the time to answer the questions above, use the service answers to develop
the job duties. Also, don’t sugar coat the job. If the Director has to do something that is not typical Director work and not a core service, include it (eg. routine maintenance of grounds, including de-icing sidewalks and leaf blowing).
You have the opportunity, right now, to shift or change the actions the Director takes to implement the library’s mission. Reread and edit both the Announcement and the Description for alignment with the mission and vision of the library.
Employment Contract
We’ll get into this in Part Two: Interview, Hire, and Record Keeping. In case you like to jump ahead, here is the sample we typically send: Sample Director Contract [].
Next Steps
Don’t hire anyone yet! In the position announcement you gave a preferred submission date. While I recommend keeping an eye on how many applications you are receiving and increasing your advertising effort if you aren’t getting any, I urge you not to read the application packets until the preferred date has passed.
The rural library candidate pool is not deep, but if we consistently market the vision of our libraries when seeking leadership for our organizations, our chances of finding the right leader are improved.
Next week we’ll talk about when to do phone interviews, interviewing protocol, making the offer legal, and the Contract as key components of Director recruitment and retention (really!).
Upcoming Learning Opportunities for Trustees
Join Brian Hildreth for a Tax Cap Updates & Refresher at the Cuba Circulating Library on Tuesday, December 12th from 10:30 am to 11:15 am. This workshop is available in person and via GoToMeeting. To get the GoToMeeting information, please register here [].
In January we bring back the popular workshop Get the Grant!, this time with Keturah Cappadonia. This session will be held on Saturday, January 13th in the Friendship Free Library from 10 am – 11:30 am. Registration is required so we know how many take home resources to bring. Register here [].
For all upcoming events, please visit the STLS program calendar [].
As ever, please contact me with questions, concerns, and ideas.
In partnership,
Margo Gustina
Deputy Director, Trustee Consultant