Trustee Duties and Responsibilities



The Scarborough Public Library was first organized in 1899, and for many years maintained a modest collection of books in a one-room building which was open for four hours only on Friday afternoons. In contrast, the present Library, completed in 1990, serves a rapidly growing community of approximately 20,000 inhabitants, with public access 55 hours weekly, circulating 199,580 items last year. The collection contains 92,288 print, audio, and video materials, in physical and electronic formats.

Scarborough's Library is part of a larger community network of informational services including both schools and town. It is also part of a statewide system through the Maine Regional Library System and is connected nationally through computer networking and the Interlibrary Loan Service. The Library belongs to the Minerva consortium and has a shared borrowing agreement with the public libraries in Cape Elizabeth, South Portland, Westbrook, and Gorham.

The whole spectrum of informational services is changing rapidly, and we are well aware of the necessity of keeping abreast of current technology. The Scarborough Public Library has achieved an enviable reputation among small libraries for excellence and both staff and board intend to maintain that leadership position.

While the Library is a private, non-profit, 501(c)(3), corporation with its own Board of Trustees, 92 percent of its operating budget is funded by the Town of Scarborough. The balance is provided internally through fines, fees, income from fundraising and investment income. The total budget for 2018-2019 is $1,277,610. The Library participates in the Town's annual budget process in essentially the same manner as a Town department.

Board Structure

The governing Board of the Scarborough Public Library consists of twelve members chosen from the community, a member of the Town Council appointed by the Council and a representative of the Friends of the Library, making a total of fourteen Trustees. All Trustees will demonstrate a commitment to the Library as a vital resource to the community, and some may be selected for a particular expertise or background.

The officers of the Corporation are a president, a vice-president, a secretary and a treasurer, and they form the nucleus of the Executive Committee.

The Board of Trustees meets monthly throughout the year, although a summer break is usually taken if the business schedule permits. The meetings are ordinarily held at the Library on the third Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m.

The President is authorized by the by-laws to appoint Board members and non-Board members to certain committees in order to provide technical assistance or breadth of community participation. Committees may vary as to frequency of meeting. Board members may also be asked to work with the Library Director as a Board advisor on particular policies or projects.

Duties and Responsibilities

Trustees have an obligation to familiarize themselves with the by-laws of the Corporation, the annual operating budget and the ongoing business of the Library. In addition, Trustees are expected to attend all meetings of the Board and to uphold their Trustee responsibilities, as well as to actively participate in committees as assigned.

Any Trustee who misses three consecutive meetings and/or four meetings in any given year without reasonable cause may be removed by a two-thirds vote of the Board.

Any Trustee finding it necessary to do so may resign by delivering a written notice of resignation to the Corporation at its principal office, or to the President or Secretary of the Board of Trustees. The resignation shall be effective upon receipt unless the resignation states another date.

Trustees have a variety of responsibilities individually and collectively, both as members of the community from which they are called, and as participants in a Management, Planning and Support process.


Trustees will maintain careful oversight of the sources and use of funds.

Trustees have the responsibility for safeguarding the physical plant, equipment, collections and investments having a replacement value of approximately $2.7 million. The Trustees must also hire a librarian and authorize the hiring of other staff and determine salary and benefit levels and rules of personnel practice.

It is the responsibility of all Board members to be aware of current trends in libraries and the changing needs of our patrons.


Trustees must be active and thoughtful participants in both short- and long-term planning to assure the continuing strength of the Library. Members of the Board must have their fingers on the pulse of the community in order to aid in the planning process. The Board holds an annual retreat where the long-term goals are discussed in depth. All trustees must share in the annual planning process involving such areas as personnel expenses, capital expenditures and preparation of the annual budget.


Trustees are expected to provide their financial support to the Library’s annual appeal and other fund-raising initiatives.

The good health of the Library and its ability to serve Scarborough depends heavily on the good will of the citizens. Trustees should be willing to promote the Library whenever there is an opportunity to do so.

Since the largest percentage of the Library’s operating budget is provided by the Town of Scarborough, an awareness of the political realities inherent in the Library’s dependence is essential. Trustees are expected to be supportive of the Library’s fiscal requirements in budget hearings or other deliberations of the Town.

Trustees are encouraged to attend programs and activities sponsored by the Library and the Friends of the Library.



May 2019