Letter to the Editor

Library Director responds to questions about Board of Trustees

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Dear Editor,

As I have been asked repeatedly in the last few days about the governance and oversight of your local library, I want to provide some clarification to the residents of Mountain Home and all Library users.

In the State of Idaho, libraries, both city and district are governed under Title 33, Chapter 26 & 27. These laws dictate how a library shall be run. There is zero question about the day-to-day governance of a public library under State statute.

For City Libraries, Trustees are recommended by the Mayor and Approved/Not Approved by the City Council.

For District Libraries, Trustees are elected during a normal election process.

While the Board of Trustees has the full authority over the policies and procedures of a library, including hiring and supervising the Library Director, and control of library funds; a Mayor and Council have tremendous oversight, including:

- Approving an annual budget

- Recommending and approving the appointment or non-appointment of trustees

- Annual appointment of a council liaison

The City Council liaison is the direct bridge between the City Council and the Board of Trustees. If the Council does not like the direction or has questions regarding the direction or policies of the Library Board, the liaison has a duty to be that bridge and express concerns or get clarification to report back.

State law regarding public libraries was set with one specific reason in mind. Keep public libraries under the control of citizen-users (the trustees). By keeping public libraries under the full control of a citizen board it ensures that politics do not play a role in the day-to-day operations of a library. This ensures that a community has access to a wide variety of information and services.

In the case of the Mountain Home Public Library, I believe the Library has a great relationship with the City Council, other City Departments and especially the citizens we serve. I have made it my personal/professional mission to ease barriers to access for this community and the Board of Trustees have been tremendous supporters in that mission. I will continue to fight every day to protect the integrity of a library to ensure that each of you have unfettered access to information.

While the current drama regarding this library and its governance is not ideal, we will continue to work everyday to provide you the great service you have come to expect.

Additionally, in the interest of full transparency, I have been asked why the Library does not move to a district library and have elected trustees. This is something that has been discussed at various times over the last 15-20 years but without any decisions being made. However, I will discuss this option with the relevant governing parties (Trustees and Council) and see if there is a desire to attempt this long process. Keep in mind, while creating a District Library would serve a greater population of your friends, family and co-workers it would require a commitment from the community with a vote of approval at the ballot box.


William Lamb, Library Director