State Aid

State Aid

Library trustees should advocate on the local, state, and national level to pursue adequate funding for their library. As a member of the library board, one should work towards building relationships with elected officials towards this end goal. These activities are just a few of the top ten responsibilities of library board trustees. All ten are found on the excellent website of the N.J. Library Trustee Association at: http://www.njlibrarytrustees.org/resources/links under “Roles & Responsibilities of Library Trustees.” This month, we are asking you to take action towards advocating for the return of State Aid funding for N.J. libraries. As we all have witnessed, State Aid has dropped considerably over the last 5 years. However, there is currently $3 million dollars of state aid on the legislative table and by your board ADVOCATING for it, that money could come back to libraries.

Board Education Component – State Aid

What is state aid?

The Per Capita State Aid (PCSA) program is the largest public library grant program administered by the State Library and is the foundation of state support for public libraries. The first State Per Capita Aid Act was passed by the New Jersey Legislature in 1959. Its passage set a precedent that the State of New Jersey had a critical partnership role in providing quality library service for the residents of New Jersey.

Where can I find this legislation?

N.J.S.A. 18A:74-1 (New Jersey Statutes Annotated, Title 18A: Education, Chapter 74 – State Library Aid Law.)

How is state aid calculated for municipalities?

N.J.S.A. 18A:74-3. State aid is based on a calculation taking into account annual expenditures for library services by the municipality in the previous year along with equalized valuation, and the number of inhabitants of a municipality (per capita).

What are our library’s requirements for receiving state aid?

  • Each library must submit the annual, online State Aid Report to the State Librarian. (BCCLS also requires a copy for its records.)
  • A member or members of the board must have received a minimum of seven hours of library-related education annually.
  • State aid must be used for library purposes.
  • State aid must be used within two years.
  • BCCLS membership requires libraries meet state aid criteria and be eligible for state aid.

What is the current status of state aid to N.J. Libraries?

In 2011 State funding for Library programs was reduced by 43%. Critical resources were eliminated and direct aid to libraries reduced to the lowest level in decades. Funding would come back to libraries if the following legislation (A967/S234) is approved:

“This bill makes a supplemental appropriation of $3 million from the General Fund to increase the State fiscal year 2014 funding for Per Capita Library Aid. The purpose of the bill is to better enable the State’s libraries to serve the public with access to information and cultural enrichment.”

Director’s Role

  1. This month review with your board what “State Aid” means and its importance.
  2. Stress how State Aid to your library has been reduced in the last several years. (Check how much less it is now than a few years ago.) Your State aid and 1/3 mil amounts can be found on the BCCLS Staff page under “Analyzing Expenses.” http://www.bccls.org/buckles/stats/

  3. Explain the legislation on the table (A967/S234) that would return $3 million in State Aid to libraries. http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2014/Bills/A1000/967_I1.PDF

  4. Copy the letter (below), personalize it and address copies of it to your assembly representatives and senator. Your district representatives can be found at: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/districts/districtnumbers.asp You can see if your representatives are already in support of this legislation at: http://www.njla.org/content/a967s234

  5. Have your board review the letters and have them signed by your board president at your meeting. Mail the letters. Congratulate your board members for actively advocating for your library!

Suggested Letter to Legislative Representatives

Dear ______________:

I am writing to ask your support for current legislation to increase financial support for public libraries in your district. A967/S234 makes a $3 million supplemental appropriation to increase the State fiscal year 2014 funding for Per Capita Library Aid.

Since the recession, state aid for libraries across the state has dwindled. This loss coupled with the decline in municipal funding for libraries within your district has made it increasingly difficult for us to provide the technological, educational and cultural services that your constituents deserve. Here in (your town) we have experienced a ___% decrease in state aid support since 2008 along with a loss of $______ in municipal funding.

Currently the state aid program is only 34% funded at $3,676,000 or roughly 42 cents per person. This is less than the cost of a postage stamp! As a primary resource for our communities, New Jersey’s local libraries not only help to supplement our school systems, but also provide educational resources for all members of our communities, creating an excellent return on monies spent.

Please work with us towards a restoration of state funding so that our libraries can provide the resources our citizens deserve. I look forward to hearing from you about this important issue. Thank you for your leadership and the Board of Trustees of the ______ Library looks forward to working with you in support of our public libraries.



President, Board of Trustees


Patron Privacy and New Jersey Public Libraries

Patron Privacy and New Jersey Public Libraries


As technology allows for the increased procurement of data on library patron use it is important to have privacy policies in place that encompass not only patron circulation records but computer/wifi use, third party vendors and surveillance cameras in public libraries. This paper provides some information on the foundation on which library policies on privacy and confidentiality are based so your trustees are better informed about this basic tenet of librarianship. Future papers will build on this foundation to address the formation of policies that are as comprehensive as possible in addressing patron privacy in a 21st Century library.

Board Education Component:

Background on Patron Privacy

“The American Library Association (ALA), the voice of America’s libraries, is the oldest, largest and most influential library association in the world. Its approximately 56,000 members are primarily librarians but also trustees, publishers and other library supporters. The Association represents all types of libraries; its mission is to promote the highest quality library and information services and public access to information.” (http://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/0415_StateAmLib.pdf)

Library Bill of Rights – 

The ALA adopted the Library Bill of Rights in 1939. It is a basic statement of principles that should govern the service of all libraries. The document was amended several times with the most recent being in 1996. It reads: The American Library Association affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that the following basic policies should guide their services.

  1. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.
  2. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.
  3. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.
  4. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.
  5. A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.
  6. Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.

Ok, that’s interesting but where is patron privacy specifically mentioned in the Library Bill of Rights?

Interpreting the Library Bill of Rights – 

The Library Bill of Rights is interpreted by the Intellectual Freedom Committee (IFC) of the ALA. The IFC is charged with making recommendations to the association and the ALA in turn creates policies based on these recommendations. The policies addressing patron privacy are based on the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution and number IV of the Library Bill of Rights.

The ALA Policy concerning Confidentiality of Personally Identifiable Information about Library Users states:

In a library (physical or virtual), the right to privacy is the right to open inquiry without having the subject of one’s interest examined or scrutinized by others. Confidentiality exists when a library is in possession of personally identifiable information about users and keeps that information private on their behalf.

Library Code of Ethics – 

The Library Code of Ethics was also established in 1939 by the ALA with several revisions to the code since that time. Following is the opening statement of the code and Section III addressing patron privacy.

As members of the American Library Association, we recognize the importance of codifying and making known to the profession and to the general public the ethical principles that guide the work of librarians, other professionals providing information services, library trustees and library staffs.

III We protect each library user’s right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to information sought or received and resources consulted, borrowed, acquired or transmitted.

The ALA encourages public libraries to work with their local legal counsel to ensure they understand federal and state laws regarding confidentiality and patron privacy so they may respond quickly to any requests from law enforcement for information in regards to library patrons.

(Above information obtained from the ALA’s website – www.ala.org)

New Jersey Laws –

Library policies in the area of privacy must be in compliance with all applicable federal, state and local laws. In New Jersey there is a specific statute addressing library confidentiality in regards to patron records:

N.J.S.A. 18A:73-43:2 – Confidentiality of Library Records –

Library records which contain the names or other personally identifying details regarding the users of libraries are confidential and shall not be disclosed except in the following circumstances: a. The records are necessary for the proper operation of the library; b. Disclosure is requested by the user; or c. Disclosure is required pursuant to a subpoena issued by a court or court order.
L.1985, c 172, s. 2, eff. May 31, 1985

The NJ library confidentiality law supersedes the Open Public Records Act (OPRA). OPRA specifically provides that records should not be disclosed if the records are protected by another law like the confidentiality statute. – See NJSA 47:1A et seq

S967/A1396 Reader Privacy Act –

Passed in September 2014, this act prohibits service providers (both bookstores and e-Book retailers) from sharing a customer’s information without the customer’s permission unless there is a court order or circumstances involving criminal activity. The following is testimony of Pat Tumulty, Executive Director of the NJLA to the State Commerce Committee in support of the legislation.

The “Reader Privacy Act” is modeled after the current confidentiality of library records law which was enacted approximately 30 years ago. That act has been extremely important in protecting the reading records of individuals in our libraries. This bill would extend similar protections to the readers and purchasers of books and e-books thus ensuring the residents of New Jersey that they can read and view information in any format without the fear that their reading preferences would be available to others except with their permission.”

New Jersey Library Association –

The NJLA’s policy on Confidentiality of Library Records states: Confidentiality exists when a library is in possession of personally identifiable information about users and keeps that information private on their behalf

The NJLA has issued guidelines for the creation of policies and procedures to address N.J.S.A. 18A:73-43:2. These guidelines can be located at: http://njla.org/content/njla-statement-privacy-0

Director’s Role

When reviewing the background for “why” privacy policies exist in public libraries it is important to emphasize that the Library Bill of Rights and Library Code of Ethics make clear that it is the responsibility of trustees to ensure that they are doing all they can to protect patron privacy within the constraints of the law. This responsibility is echoed in the NJLA’s policy

Examine your library’s privacy policy for the following elements:

  • Is it posted in your building and on your website?
  • Does it inform patrons how their information is being utilized?
  • Does it inform patrons when their information may be disclosed?
  • Is it in conformance with all state and federal laws regarding the collection and retention of “personally identifiable information” (PII)?
  • Did it have legal guidance in its formation and in its procedures?

It is our assumption that most BCCLS libraries have policies in place to address N.J.S.A. 18A:73-43:2. These policies focus on important procedures regarding subpoenas and search warrants for information requested by law enforcement. Future Info & Action sheets will cover this basic policy found in many libraries. In addition we will seek to expand on this current framework to more comprehensive guidelines covering use of third party vendors (i.e. Zinio, Hoopla, Overdrive), technology recording wifi use, and surveillance systems recording patrons’ use of the library.

Patron Privacy & Confidentiality

Patron Privacy & Confidentiality


In our last Info & Action paper entitled Patron Privacy and New Jersey Public Libraries, we provided trustees with historical background that influenced the creation of the New Jersey statute (N.J.S.A. 18A:73-43.2) protecting the confidentiality of records created when library patrons utilize NJ libraries. Since the creation of this statute in 1985 American public libraries have evolved to become so much more than brick and mortar repositories of information. Our library patrons now have the ability to access technology and digital resources which make issues of privacy and confidentiality far more complex than they were in the past. In today’s digital world we cannot guarantee the complete privacy of our library users but we can do our best to understand the impact that new technologies have on patron privacy and create policies and procedures appropriate for a 21st Century NJ public library. 

Board Education Component:

Privacy vs. Confidentiality – When we discuss patron privacy we really are talking about two issues that go hand-in-hand – privacy and confidentiality. The distinction between the two is explained in the American Library Association (ALA) Policy concerning Confidentiality of Personally Identifiable Information about library users: 

In a library (physical or virtual), the right to privacy is the right to open inquiry without having the subject of one’s interest examined or scrutinized by others. Confidentiality exists when a library is in possession of personally identifiable information about users and keeps that information private on their behalf. (See: http://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/statementspols/otherpolicies/policyconcerning)

N.J.S.A. 18A:73-43.2 addresses the issue of confidentiality:

Library records which contain the names or other personally identifying details regarding the users of libraries are confidential and shall not be disclosed except in the following circumstances: a. The records are necessary for the proper operation of the library; b. Disclosure is requested by the user; or c. Disclosure is required pursuant to a subpoena issued by a court or court order.

L.1985, c 172, s. 2, eff. May 31, 1985

What is a Library Record? – In the past a patron’s “library records” primarily consisted of registration and circulation information. Technology has advanced the scope of what may now be considered a patron’s library record. See below the ALA statement outlining the personally identifiable information (PII) associated with an individual’s use of library resources:

Confidentiality extends to “information sought or received and resources consulted, borrowed, acquired or transmitted” (ALA Code of Ethics), including, but not limited to: database search records, reference questions and interviews, circulation records, interlibrary loan records, information about materials downloaded or placed on “hold” or “reserve,” and other personally identifiable information about uses of library materials, programs, facilities, or services.
(See: http://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/librarybill/interpretations/privacy)

Sample Confidentiality Policy – New Jersey Library Association (NJLA) provides direction for creating a confidentiality policy based on the New Jersey statute. 

The Board of Trustees of the _____________Library believes that it is the basic right of every individual to read what he or she wishes without fear of censure or legal consequence. It also affirms the right of every person to privacy. The library will do all within its power to protect each user’s right to privacy with respect to all information required for registration and for information sought or received, and materials consulted, borrowed or acquired. Such records will not be made available to any individual, organization or government agency except pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:73-43.2 which reads: “Library records which contain the names or other personally identifying details regarding the users of libraries are confidential and shall not be disclosed except in the following circumstances:
a. The records are necessary for the proper operation of the library; b. Disclosure is requested by the user; or c. Disclosure is required pursuant to a subpoena issued by a court or court order. L.1985, c 172, s. 2, eff. May 31, 1985.” Adopted by the NJLA Executive Board Dec. 19, 2006
(See: http://www.njla.org/sites/default/files/confidentiality.pdf)

BCCLS Website and Confidentiality – BCCLS library users have access to multiple vendors who have contracted with the cooperative to provide collections and services to card holders. It may be appropriate to consider additional verbiage to your current policy to highlight the central role BCCLS plays in protecting patron privacy and confidentiality. In addition, many libraries have contracted with third-party vendors for digital services and collections. Incorporating information about your vendor’s privacy policies should also be considered to create as comprehensive a policy as possible for your library. A sample statement regarding BCCLS is provided by BCCLS Executive Director Marie Coughlin: 

Along with its member libraries, BCCLS considers user privacy to be of paramount importance. For information about how BCCLS maintains user privacy and legal notices please refer to the BCCLS website – http://www.bccls.org/about_BCCLS/policies.shtml.

Privacy Policies and Illegal Activity – When discussing the role that libraries play in protecting patron privacy the question inevitably arises – “Are we also protecting criminals when they use our library’s digital resources?” Because libraries offer open access to the internet the potential for criminal activity does exist. Libraries should consider it their responsibility to make “acceptable use” policies well known to the public. The ALA has a good webpage entitled ALA Questions & Answers on Privacy and Confidentiality. You may wish to utilize the association’s recommended wording on a “splash page” (intro page) before your patrons access the internet services you provide. See below:

24. Will privacy policies create a situation that will protect illegal acts?

All libraries are advised to have in place patron behavior policies as well as Internet use policies. In both instances it should be clearly stated that engaging in any illegal act will not be permitted. A possible policy statement could be: Any activity or conduct that is in violation of federal, state, or local laws is strictly prohibited on library premises.

Clear evidence of illegal behavior is best referred to law enforcement who know the processes of investigation that protect the rights of the accused. (See: http://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/librarybill/interpretations/qa-privacy)

Surveillance Cameras & Public Libraries – Video surveillance systems have become increasingly common in all areas of public life. Cameras are now standard in schools, public buildings, parks and increasingly in public libraries. Surveillance systems may potentially pose a  challenge to patron privacy and confidentiality in a library setting. The ALA provides some guidance in this area:

If the library decides surveillance is necessary, it is essential for the library to develop and enforce strong policies protecting patron privacy and confidentiality appropriate to managing the equipment, including routine destruction of the tapes in the briefest amount of time possible, or as soon as permitted by law.

Such policies should state that the cameras are to be used only for the narrow purpose of enhancing the physical security of the library, its property, staff and patrons.

Policies should also include protocols for posting signs or giving notice about the presence of surveillance cameras; storing of videotapes and other digital images in a secure location; and routine destruction of tapes or images in the briefest amount of time possible, or as soon as permitted by law. If the cameras create any records, the library must recognize its responsibility to protect their confidentiality like any other library record. In addition, some state laws indicate that libraries shall not disclose any information that identifies a person as having used a library or a library service, even if that information is not in the form of a “record.” Protecting patron confidentiality is best accomplished by purging the records or images as soon as their purpose is served.
(See: Questions and Answers on Privacy and Confidentiality

Director’s Role

As always, consult with your library’s attorney when drafting policies involving the public’s use of your building and resources. It may be advisable to list your procedures along with the policies. The entire document can then be provided to local law enforcement and municipal officials alerting them to N.J.S.A. 18A:73-43.2 and the constraints this may place on the library when responding to law enforcement requests. Procedures can be found on the NJLA website at:

On the bottom of the main page of the BCCLS website is a link About BCCLS – Policies and Legal Notices. The page contains extensive information on third party vendors, network privacy, email and other issues that affect the (PII) of BCCLS patrons. There is also an excellent presentation by Eileen Palmer, Executive Director, Libraries of Middlesex Automation Consortium entitled “Maintaining Confidentiality – It’s Everyone’s Business” which can be found at http://www.slideshare.net/empalmer/maintaining-confidentiality-34490488

Hopefully the information provided in this paper helps your trustees understand the responsibilities and challenges libraries face in maintaining patron privacy and confidentiality.

New Jersey Public Library Budget Basics

New Jersey Public Library Budget Basics


Library Trustees have the responsibility of working with the library director and their municipality to maintain adequate financial support for their public library and to oversee the legal and responsible use of library funds. Trustees should have a firm understanding of their library’s annual budget as well as the financial requirements of their library’s long-term strategic planning goals. Trustees may assist in the preparation of the library’s annual budget and its presentation at the municipal level, and should be prepared to advocate for adequate funds to meet the needs demonstrated within the annual budget and strategic plan.

Board Education Component:

According to the 2015 edition of New Jersey Public Libraries: A Manual for Trustees, “assuring adequate funds for library services is a prime responsibility of trustees. They are accountable for the use of funds, and are responsible for informing elected officials about the funding level necessary to provide efficient and effective library service that meets the needs established by the library’s strategic plan.”


Funding for public libraries in New Jersey is usually obtained through a combination of state, county, municipal and non-governmental sources and may differ based on a library’s location, service population, dedicated library tax revenue, additional municipal support, and library designation (i.e.: municipal library, association library, joint library or county library.) For a more detailed discussion of library funding laws for NJ public libraries, please refer to the BCCLS Advocacy Committee’s Laws Governing Library Funding fact sheet (released in March 2015.)

In order to better advocate for and oversee their library’s annual budget, trustees should have a thorough understanding of how their library is funded and how a change in funding from any of the above mentioned sources would impact their library’s ability to operate.

Library trustees serving on boards for municipal or joint libraries should also be aware that certain costs cannot be funded by their library’s annual mandatory library appropriation. These costs are outlined in N.J.A.C. 15:21-12.6 and include debt service costs, debt, rent or lease payments made to a municipality and certain capital expenses.


While the timelines and specific details of the annual budget creation, approval and implementation vary among libraries, several core responsibilities remain the same for public library trustees throughout New Jersey. Library trustees should be prepared to accept the following responsibilities:

  • Reviewing and voting on the annual library budget as it has been presented by the library director and/or the board’s Finance Committee.
  • Advocating for the library’s annual operating budget at the municipal level. This may involve presenting the budget to the mayor and town council, defending the budget and the library’s funding needs at a public meeting or other budgetary hearing, and/or working with local financial officers and municipal administration.
  • Overseeing and approving the library’s income and expenditures at monthly library board meetings to ensure proper adherence to the approved budget as well as to current local and state spending and library funding laws.
  • Examining the library’s yearly financial audit, annual report to the municipality and annual report to the New Jersey State Library and submitting them to the appropriate authorities.
  • Working with the library director to fund and implement long-term strategic plans.


The library director also has a strong role in the creation and implementation of the library’s annual operating budget. The library director is responsible for preparing an annual budget for the library, possibly with the assistance of the library board’s finance committee, based on the operational requirements of the library and expected funding. The director’s proposed budget must then be presented to the trustees for review and approval before being presented at the municipal level. Once an annual operating budget is approved, it is the director’s responsibility to adhere to the approved budget, prepare and submit monthly financial reports to the board for review and inform the trustees of any issues that may impact the approved budget in an unexpected way or result in the need to amend the budget.

Director’s Component:

The information presented in this document is general and intended to raise topics for more detailed discussion between you and your trustees. You may wish to tailor the information provided to outline the specific process and timeline for the creation and implementation of your library’s annual budget. To review budgeting basics in preparation for your discussion with your trustees, we highly recommend revisiting the “Budgeting and Finance” PowerPoints and handouts provided by the NJ State Library at


Local Government Structure

Know Your Local Government Structure

Library Trustees have the responsibility for maintaining adequate financial support for their libraries. As a member of the library board, one should work towards communicating and building relationships with elected officials towards this end goal.  Who are the officials within your government responsible for making the decision to provide your library with funding above the threshold of 1/3 of a mil?  To begin answering that question a trustee must know exactly how their local government operates, who the decision makers are and how funding decisions are made.  This month’s letter is meant to provide you with the basics on how your borough/town/city operates.

Advocating for funding is one of the top ten responsibilities of library board trustees.  All ten are found on the excellent website of the N.J. Library Trustee Association at: http://www.njlibrarytrustees.org/resources/links under “Roles & Responsibilities of Library Trustees.” 

Board Education Component – Local Government Structure

The various forms of municipal government in N.J. reflect a history of evolving forms of five basic structures: township, town, city, borough and village.  Other forms were created in the 20th Century to provide municipalities with additional governing flexibility. Many municipalities now fall under the 1950 Optional Municipal Charter Law (OMCL), known as the Faulkner Act.

The following edited information, entitled – “Forms of Government, Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know, But Were Afraid to Ask” by Michael Cerra, demonstrates this wide variation in local government structures. (Available on the NJ League of Municipalities website: http://www.njslom.org/magart0307_p14.html )

1) The Township Form (NJSA 40A:63-1): Under the current township government laws, the township committee remains the backbone of the municipality’s government. Voters elect, at-large, the township committee comprising three or five members. The elections are partisan and the committee members serve staggered three-year terms. The township committee elects the mayor for a one-year term. The mayor serves as chair of the township committee and has powers vested in the mayor’s office by general law.  Under the township form, all legislative powers are concentrated in the committee. The committee also has all executive powers not placed in the mayor either by general law or the revised Township act. Additionally, all municipalities under the traditional form may appoint, including the township form, may appoint a municipal administration and “delegate to him all or a portion of the executive responsibilities of the municipality.”

2) The Town Form (NJSA 40A: 62-1): Voters elect the mayor and council in partisan elections. The mayor is elected at large and is known as the councilman at large. The mayor serves a two-year term, though voters can through petition and referendum change the term to three years. The mayor retains all executive responsibilities placed in the position by general law or the Town Act. All other executive authority lies with the town council. The council consists of eight members serving two-year terms. Two council members are elected from each of four wards and they serve staggered two-year terms. Therefore, every year one seat from each ward is up for election. The mayor chairs the town council, and may vote on legislation and veto ordinances.

3) The City Form (NJSA 40A:61-1): Under this form, mayor and council are elected in partisan elections. The mayor serves a four-year term, unless a two or three-year term preceded the passage of the 1997 law.                      The mayor is the chief executive, may participate in council meetings and can vote to break ties. The mayor can veto ordinances and serves as the head of the police department. Meanwhile, the council is the legislative body of the municipality and appoints most of the subordinate officers of the city. Generally, the city council consists of seven members with six elected from wards for three-year terms and one elected at-large for a four-year term.Like the other traditional forms, a city may delegate all or a portion of the executive authorities to an administrator.

4) The Borough Form (NJSA 40A:60-1): The Borough mayor is elected at-large to a four-year term. Six council members are elected at-large 4 to staggered three-year terms.  The Borough form is often referred to as a “weak mayor-strong council” form. The mayor retains all general law authority, presides over council meetings and can vote in the case of a tie. The mayor appoints, with the advice and consent of council, all subordinate officers of the municipality. The council is the legislative body of the Borough. All executive responsibilities not placed in the office of the Mayor by general law or the Borough law remain with the council.  Like the other traditional forms, a Borough may appoint an administrator and delegate all or a portion of the executive responsibilities to him/her. The council may also adopt an administrative code, prescribing how the council shall perform it duties.

5) The Village Form (NJSA 40A:63-8): Based on the 1989 revisions, any New Jersey municipality operating under the village form shall operate and transact all its business according to the laws of the Township form. Under the Village Form, the significant difference is that the committee is known as the Board of Trustees and the mayor is known as the President of the Board.

6) The 1911 Commission Form (NJSA 40:70-1 et seq.): In a five-member commission, each commissioner heads up one of the following departments: Department of Public Affairs; Department of Public Safety; Department of Public Works; Department of Parks and Public Property; or Department of Revenue and Finance. In three-member commissions, the Department of Public Affairs and Public Safety are combined as are the Department of Public Works and Parks and Public Property. The Commissioners function as the legislative authority of the municipality. They are elected at-large in nonpartisan elections to serve concurrent four-year terms. The mayor is selected from among the Commissioners (often the one who received the most votes), makes most of the key appointments and has a vague, often undefined, supervisory authority.

7) The 1923 Municipal Manager Form of Government (NJSA 40-39-1 et seq.): In effect, this form separated policy making (council) from policy implementation (manager).  By law, a municipality can adopt through a referendum, a three, five or seven-member council, elected at large in nonpartisan elections. The mayor is selected from the council but the duties associated with the title are essentially limited to presiding over and voting with the council and a handful of appointments. The manager serves as the chief executive of the municipality. The manager ideally is politically neutral and operates the municipality in a businesslike manner. The manager prepares the budget for the council, oversees the negotiation and implementation of contracts and handles most personnel matters.

(OMCL) – Faulkner Forms of Government

8) (OMCL) Mayor-Council Plan (NJSA 40:69A-31)
This form, also known as the “strong mayor” form, provides for the direct election of the mayor, who serves a four-year term. This form is designed for a mayor to be independent of council, in charge of the administration of the municipality.

The mayor is the chief executive of the municipality and has the enforcement responsibility for all ordinances, charter provisions and prepares the budget of the municipality. The mayor, with the advice and consent of the council, appoints and removes department heads, including a business administrator. The mayor has the right to speak at council meeting but has no vote and does not need to attend.

The council is the legislative body of the municipality. The membership is five, seven or nine members, who are elected either at-large or from wards. The council is generally limited to legislative functions, but has investigative power and may remove municipal officers for cause. The council can reduce items in the mayor’s budget by a majority vote, but it needs a two-thirds majority to increase any item in the budget. A municipality under the Mayor-Council Form has the following options:

  1. Elections can be partisan or nonpartisan. If elections are nonpartisan the municipality also has the option of run off elections.
  2. Elections can be at-large or by wards. If the municipality is divided into wards, the municipality has the option over the number of wards.
  3. The size of the council can be three, five or seven members.
  4. Terms can be staggered or concurrent.

9) (OMCL) Council-Manager Form (NJSA:40:69a-81)                                                                                 The council is made up of five, seven or nine elected members. The council is the legislative body of the municipality but also appoints the positions of Municipal Clerk, Tax Assessor and well as provides for appointments of members of Boards, Commissions and Authorities. Perhaps most importantly, the council appoints a qualified manager to serve as the chief executive.

The mayor can either be selected from the council or directly elected. Either way, the mayor serves as the presiding member of the council. The Manager has the full administrative responsibility for the municipality, including appointment of department heads as well as subordinates, preparation and presentation of the budget and the negotiation of contracts.

A municipality under the Council-Manager form has the following options:

  1. Partisan or nonpartisan elections. If the elections are nonpartisan, the municipality has the option of run-off elections.
  2. Staggered or concurrent terms.
  3. The mayor can be voted directly by the people or selected from among the council. If elected by the voters, the mayor serves a four-year term. If selected by the council, the mayor serves either a one, two or four year term, depending on whether the council serves staggered or concurrent terms and local ordinances.
  4. Council members can be elected at-large or from wards. If the municipality operates under a ward-based system, the number of wards is also an option.
  5. The size of the council can be five, seven or nine members.

10) (OMCL) Small Municipality Form (NJSA 40:69A-115)
This form is available only to municipalities under 12,000 in population, although a municipality that grows beyond 12,000 may retain the form. The SmallMunicipality is commonly thought of as a cross of the two most common “traditional” forms: the township and borough.6 It is also a strong mayor form in that the mayor exercises the executive authority of the municipality. The mayor may in fact be a stronger position in this form than in the Mayor-Council since he/she is not only the chief executive but also the presiding officer of the council.7

The mayor in this form appoints an assessor, tax collector, treasurer, clerk and any officers provided for by local ordinance. He or she also appoints all other officers and employees of the municipality, unless the Civil Service provisions are in effect. The mayor has the dual role of chief executive and presiding officer of the council, and votes with council but has no veto power. The council is the legislative authority of the municipality. Under this form, the council passes ordinances and resolutions, passes the budget, consents to the appointments of the mayor and has investigative powers but it possesses no administrative authority.

An interesting provision of the Small Municipality Form allows the municipality to select and match most other Faulkner provisions. It is, however, the only Faulkner form that does not require the hiring of an administrator.

11) (OMCL) Mayor-Council-Administrator (NJSA 40:69A-149-1)
This is a Faulknerized version of the borough form of government, the only “weak mayor” form under the Faulkner Act.

The council is the legislative branch of the municipality. While the council has no appointive authority and no appointive responsibility, it does prepare the budget with the assistance of the treasurer and administrator. Although the Council does not appoint the administrator, the administrator may be removed from office at the pleasure of the council. As the executive authority, the mayor presides over the council but possesses no vote. He or she can veto ordinances but the council may override a veto by a two-thirds majority. The mayor is authorized to make a number of key appointments, including the administrator, assessor, collector, attorney, clerk and treasurer.


12) Special Charters
Pursuant to the State Constitution of 1947, a local government unit may operate under a unique form of government under a special charter provision. Generally, municipalities adopting a special charter base the operations of the government on a Faulkner Act form while retaining some aspects of the previous form.

Director’s Role

If you are not fully aware of exactly what form of local government you have, do some research over the summer on this topic, especially in respect to the Faulkner Act. Your municipal clerk can be useful in answering questions about your government structure. With facts in hand, present your particular “Education Component” on local government structure to your trustees in September along with the names of the decision makers who hold office. With an eye towards changes following November elections, begin the discussion of how your board members can interact with office holders for 2015 financial assistance for your library.


Libraries – The Original Shared Service

Libraries – The Original Shared Service

By and large, libraries everywhere have a very similar mission:  to support access to information.  To that end, libraries are often willing to share resources in order to help meet community needs.  One way libraries can maximize access and leverage costs is to participate in a consortium like BCCLS. 

Consortium Libraries share many services and have a single, integrated library system for cataloging and circulation.  A consortium is about as close as you can get to a multi-branch library system, but with each library maintaining local control over its day-to-day affairs, such as personnel, budget management, acquisitions and programs. 

But what about the wider library landscape across the state of New Jersey?  Participating in a consortium is only one way libraries share.  Here is a quick guide to some of the ways libraries might share resources with each other: 

  • Private agreement between individual libraries.  For instance, one community might arrange for privileges with a neighboring community for mutual benefit, or a private library within a community might enter an agreement with its host community for shared local access. 
  • Reciprocal Borrowing Groups.  Reciprocal borrowing groups are made up of independent libraries that do not share a catalog or checkout system, but voluntarily agree to provide privileges to each other’s patrons under agreed-upon terms.  Examples are the Hudson County Reciprocal Borrowing Agreement; ReBL in Essex County; LUCC in Union County; and MURAL, which covers a large territory in central NJ.
  • Consortia.  As stated above, member libraries share services and have a single, integrated library system for cataloging and circulation which allow cardholders and materials to move seamlessly from library to library.  Consortia have membership fees associated with them to cover their operating costs.  Examples in New Jersey are BCCLS, LMxAC, MAIN and PALS Plus. 
  • Open Borrowing.  This is a program that allows participating consortia to share with each other.  The key features of Open Borrowing are that it is consortium-to-consortium and participation is voluntary.  Note that effective 1/1/2015, BCCLS has withdrawn from Open Borrowing. 
  • Inter-Library Loan.  A statewide system (commonly called JerseyCat) that allows users to place requests through their home library for an item owned by another library.  The item is sent from the owning library to the patron’s home library for pickup.  This is a useful service for libraries that are not in a reciprocal group or consortium, or for borrowing specialized materials that might not be widely held, such as an advanced research guide or a specific edition of a book. 

What sets BCCLS apart?

Membership in BCCLS provides libraries with access to an incredible network of products and services, including a wide array of electronic resources (e-books, e-magazines, music and video), a number of research databases, and a supportive central office staff.  With a single catalog, shared resources and the flexibility of multiple service sites, the BCCLS consortium provides patrons with an easy library experience.  At this time, there are 77 member libraries, 600,000 registered cardholders and over 5.8 million catalogued volumes in BCCLS.  In 2015, 54,000 new titles were catalogued and almost 11 million items were circulated.

A word about BCCLS governance.

BCCLS is structured in a way that provides input opportunities to as many stakeholders as possible.  This includes member libraries, the Bergen County Freeholders and library trustees.   Within BCCLS there are more than a dozen committees and task forces, which are divided around specialized tasks.  These range from patron policies to by-laws to library technology.  Committees and task forces meet to review matters germane to their charges and make recommendations to the Executive Board.

The BCCLS Executive Board meets monthly to review recommendations and set the agenda for quarterly System Council meetings, where all member libraries have a vote.  The composition of the Executive Board is one of the areas that distinguishes BCCLS from its peers in that two seats on the EB are reserved for trustees from two member libraries.  The trustee seats are for a one-year term and rotate according to a predetermined chart.* Nine EB members are library directors (which are filled by election), and one seat is for a member of the Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders.  There are a total of 12 Executive Board seats. 

* The chart for years 2017 and beyond will be approved at an upcoming EB meeting.  

Helpful Resources

Helpful Resources for Trustees

Advocating for the Library

How Your Board Can Advocate for the Library

Library Trustees have the responsibility for maintaining adequate financial support for their libraries. As a member of the library board, one should work towards communicating and building relationships with elected officials towards this end goal.  In the September Info & Action sheet we outlined the various forms of municipal government so that you could better understand who the decision makers are when it comes to providing your library with funding above the threshold of 1/3 of a mil.  The next step is to learn strategies to positively influence these decision makers over the course of the year and particularly during the budget season.

Advocating for funding is one of the top ten responsibilities of library board trustees.  All ten are found on the excellent website of the N.J. Library Trustee Association at: http://www.njlibrarytrustees.org/content/links-interest under “Roles & Responsibilities of Library Trustees.” 

Board Education Component – Advocating for Positive Action

Now that you know who your decision makers are, you need to get to know them! According to the NJ Trustee Association, trustees are well informed about library funding basics, their library’s financial needs, and their municipality’s budget. They have a sound understanding of the vision and priorities of local decision makers and how to align library services with the goals of local government Rather than relying on once a year communications at budget time, successful boards develop year round advocacy programs.

Develop your advocacy program by designating an Advocacy coordinator to take the lead.  Clearly define the roles of your advocacy groups: Trustees, Friends, and Alliances.  Then get going.

Gather data about your local decision makers:

  • Regular trustee attendance at local government meetings
  • Personal relationships and informal meetings with elected officials
  • Interviews and Surveys

Influence positive action:

You might find in enacting your advocacy program that your decision makers are very positive towards your library.  Good for you!  But remember, you are ultimately trying to get to know your local decision makers to secure funding.  According to OCLCs reportFrom Awareness to Funding: A study of library support in America many local officials have very positive feelings towards the library, but do not see it as an essential expense. Once you have your data, you can better take action.

  • Provide consistent messages focused on value and benefits rather than costs and features
  • Trustees conduct presentations on behalf of the Library
  • Stress the Library’s ROI (return on investment) 
  • Partner, Partner, Partner—tying library to other public agencies has been shown to increase public official support.
  • Be Proactive—no one is going to give you the ideas, elected officials respond to your passion.
  • Vocal patrons can influence elected officials. 
  • Libraries are neutral and safe and can be a feel good/ do good project for elected officials, and there is value in that! Find ways to get them to take on your cause.

Director’s Role

You may find that you are the “designated advocacy coordinator” who will be leading the charge for your library.  Consider working with your trustees to develop an interview or survey to gauge the thinking of your decision makers.  Survey Monkey is easy to use and you can also use the samples found on the BCCLS advocacy website for ideas.

Interviews, surveys are an opportunity for you to find out how they envision library service.  They may not know what’s out there that you could have so you want to be very proactive here—what don’t you have that you could if you had funding?  What did you have that you don’t now because of lack of funding; what do you have but no one knows it because you don’t have the funding to market it?  Remember, you are not just trying to find out if they like the library, but how you can align library services with their goals.  

Community feedback is also vital to your advocacy.Again, feedback from community surveys can provide trustees with valuable talking points when meeting with government officials. They can also help you identify your go to people.

Remember to sustain your relationship with your key decision makers:

  • Keep them up to date with timely information, invitations to library programs and events
  • Find roles for them within your activities and programs
  • Say thank you often, and mean it!  






Search for a New Director

Search for a New Director

Replacing a library director is a difficult and challenging task under the best of circumstances and can be downright frustrating under others.  One thing is for certain and that is that the Board of Trustees must immediately gear up for the departure of the library director and make certain that the Board has everything it needs in order to conduct a thorough search for a replacement.  This documents outlines areas which should be carefully considered as soon as the board learns that the library director is resigning or retiring.

Before Your Library Director Leaves the Building

Designate a knowledgeable staff person to be Acting Director in charge of the library. Negotiate a reasonable salary increase, or honorarium to compensate for the additional responsibilities. Clarify this person’s responsibilities to both the Acting Director and the staff and provide both with an estimate on how long a period is expected. Establish to whom on the Board, the Acting Director should communicate between Board meetings and clarify the Board’s expectations of the Acting Director. The Acting Director will communicate with BCCLS for your library and attend System Council and other meetings where your library’s attendance is required.

Ask your Library Director to provide you with the following which will assist you in the search for a replacement:

  • Full details on current salary and benefits for the position
  • Current job description for the Library Director’s position
  • Copy of the current employment contract (if applicable)
  • Contact information for Civil Service representative (if applicable)
  • Copy of the latest BCCLS Salary Survey

If time permits, your Library Director should spend some time with the Acting Director designee in order to acquaint that person with the organizational structure,  etc., of the Library Director’s office. Ask your Library Director to provide you with the following which will assist your new Acting, Interim, or new Library Director when assuming the position:

  • Copy of all established operating policies for the library
  • Job descriptions and salaries for all staff members
  • Monthly director’s report and Board of Trustee meeting minutes for the preceding year
  • Current year’s budget and financial reports for the current year

Once Your Library Director Leaves the Building

No matter how short the planned period between a library director leaving the building and a new library director being appointed, there are steps that the library’s Board of Trustees should take immediately to ensure that your library’s services will not suffer.

  • Inform the BCCLS office who has been designated Acting Director in order to make certain that system information is routed to the Acting Director. Inform, via email, the other BCCLS library directors of the appointment of the Acting Director.
  • Consult other documents in this set to clarify BCCLS expectations of Directors; your Acting Director will need to fulfill these.
  • While an Acting Director chosen from existing staff can be very effective,  in many libraries no one other than the Library Director actually has experience with everything required to run a public library. If your search becomes extended, the lack of a seasoned professional at the helm can cause serious problems. For this reason, Library Boards are encouraged to appoint an experienced Interim Director who holds the MLS degree. The BCCLS office can help you locate an experienced former BCCLS Library Director who has been successful in running public libraries. As with the appointment of an Acting Director, the Board will need to follow the steps outlined above in relation to the Interim Director
  • The Acting Director will communicate with BCCLS for your library and attend System Council and other meetings where your library’s attendance is required.
  • If not already extremely familiar with the BCCLS web site, the Assistant Director should immediately become so since the web site contains a plethora of information that is crucial to the effective operation of a member library including minutes of the BCCLS Executive Board and System Council meetings, Directors packets for System Council meetings, Dates of upcoming events, BCCLS Bylaws, BCCLS policies and procedures, etc.

Preparing for the Search

Since the goal of the search for a new Library Director is to find someone who fits well with the Board of Trustees, the library staff, and the community, this will be one of the most crucial tasks your Library Board will ever undertake. The search will be made easier if some basic preparations are made prior to beginning the search.

  • Discuss with the Board of Trustees how the search will be conducted.  Many Library Boards appoint a sub-committee to oversee the search process.  Other Library Boards seek the assistance of professional  search firms that specialize in public libraries. The BCCLS office will be able to provide you with the names and contact information for such firms. Decide in advance how the arriving resumes will be screened, who will set up appointments, who will check references, who will conduct the initial interview, etc.  Library Boards are urged to check the references of those who are seriously being considered for the position. In addition to checking references, Boards of Trustees should feel free to consult with the BCCLS Executive Director who can frequently  comment on past experiences with librarians working in the BCCLS system.  Review the current job description for this position and adjust or update  as necessary.  Devise a list of desired qualifications, experience, and other factors that will impinge on your search. Some qualifications are stipulated by law and BCCLS Bylaws (http://bccls.knowledgebase.co/category.php?id=68). Your new Library Director must be a full—time employee with an MLS from an ALA-accredited institution and  hold or be  eligible to hold a professional  librarian certificate from the State of New Jersey (http://ldb.njstatelib.org/Library_Law/lwaid002). In addition, your new Library Director must be a resident of New Jersey or be willing to relocate within a year to become a New Jersey resident (www.nj.gov/dca/lgs/research/reschmenu.shtml#newjerseyfirst)
  • Establish a benefits package and salary level to be offered to the new director.  If your library has been paying its Library Director a fair and reasonable wage, this is not the time to try to save money by cutting the salary to one that is not realistic for your library’s well-being. In devising a salary, you will find the most current annual BCCLS Salary Survey to be helpful as it will allow you to see what is being done at other libraries with a similar profile to yours. The benefits and salary information  is best done in writing so that there will be no confusion during interviewing and hiring. Please remember to indicate in the benefits package the amounts that the new director will be expected to contribute for pension, health benefits (http://www.state.nj.us/treasury/pensions/reform-hb-qa.shtml) , life insurance, etc.
  • If your library is a Civil Service library, contact the library’s Civil Service representative for guidance in hiring. If your library is not Civil Service, consider an employment contract for the protection of your library. Employment contracts are best devised by attorneys  who are conversant in matters pertaining to public libraries. If your library does not have an existing relationship with such an attorney, the BCCLS office can provide you with a list of attorneys for your consideration. Employment contracts protect the library and are generally worthwhile investments.
  • Additional pertinent information and assistance can be obtained by consulting the websites of the New Jersey Library Association (www.njla.org) and/or the New Jersey Library Trustee Association (www.njlibrarytrustees.org)
  • Advertise the position. Free advertising is provided by BCCLS on its website (www.bccls.org). When you are ready to post a vacancy on the BCCLS website, email the announcement to internetservices@bccls.org .The New Jersey Library Association will post job vacancies free of charge for its Institutional Members and charges non-members a modest fee  (http://www.njla.org/jobs.html)  These two websites will probably provide the bulk of your candidates. If you wish to cast a wider net, the American Library Association also hosts a fee-based job list (http://joblist.ala.org/). Generally, by law, job vacancies are also posted somewhere that current employees can see them. Some libraries also post all vacancies for the public to see.

Laws Governing Library Funding

Laws Governing Library Funding

Library boards need to be cognizant of the numerous laws that govern the administration of public libraries in New Jersey. Being able to locate specific titles/chapters/sections of the New Jersey Statutes Annotated (NJSA) and the New Jersey Administrative Code (NJAC) that pertain to library funding and municipal responsibility can be challenging. This Trustee Info & Action will hopefully begin to place a few of the basics, along with the applicable title/chapter/section, at your fingertips. It is always advisable to get the advice of your library’s legal counsel regarding specific questions you may have in regard to the statutes.

For more in-depth information see:

www.njstatelib.org/ – Services for Libraries ? Resources ? Library Law

Board Education Component


N.J.S.A. 40:54-1. Establishment; chapter applicable to libraries established under other laws. Any municipality may, in the manner hereinafter provided, establish a free public library within its corporate limits. Every library established under this chapter, and every free public library established pursuant to any general law shall be governed by the provisions of this chapter.


 N.J.S.A. 40:54-12. Powers of board The board shall hold in trust and manage all property of the library. It may rent rooms, or, when proper, construct buildings for the use of the library, purchase books, pamphlets, documents, papers and other reading matter, hire librarians, and other necessary personnel, and fix their compensation, make proper rules and regulations for the government of the library, and generally do all things necessary and proper for the establishment and maintenance of the free public library in the municipality. The board may also transfer to and receive from other libraries books, magazines, prints, maps and other related library materials for the purpose of augmenting the interlibrary loan service.

1/3 MIL

N.J.S.A. 40:54-8. Library tax. – Within every municipality governed by this article there shall annually be raised by taxation a sum equal to one-third of a mill on every dollar of assessable property within such municipality based on the equalized valuation of such property as certified by the Director of the Division of Taxation in the Department of the Treasury in accordance with the provisions of R.S.54:4-49. The amount shall be assessed, levied and collected in the same manner and at the same time as other municipal purposes taxes are assessed, levied and collected therein and shall be paid from the disbursing officer to the treasurer of the free public library on a quarterly basis.

(THIRD OF A MIL EQUALS 33 CENTS ON $1,000 OF ASSESSED VALUE. For example, a home which is assessed at $100,000 would pay $33 a year for library service.)


N.J.A.C. 15:21-12.4 Annual municipal or joint free public library funding

(a) Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:54-8 and 40:54-29.4, municipalities are required to provide an annual mandatory library appropriation.

(b) Municipalities that elect to appropriate additional funding for municipal or joint free public libraries more than 15 percent above the previous year’s total municipal expenditures for such library may do so upon application and approval from the State Librarian, as required by N.J.S.A. 40:54-8.1. Municipalities that chose to appropriate this additional amount are required to submit the following information to the State Librarian:

1. A prioritized itemized list that delineates the proposed use of the funds; and
2. Justification that supports the provision of efficient and effective library services.

(c) Municipalities may appropriate an additional sum greater than the annual mandatory library appropriation.

(d) Municipalities are required to expend money raised as per N.J.S.A. 40:54-8 and N.J.S.A. 40:54-29.4 in full to the treasurer of the board of trustees, or into a reserve account retained in the custody of the municipal treasurer to be disbursed by same after approval by the board of trustees of the free public library as provided by N.J.S.A. 40:54-13. Municipalities which structure the expenditure of the library appropriation into periodic payments shall make such periodic payments to the treasurer in advance at a rate of no less than 25 percent of the total annual appropriation in quarterly installments.

(e) In those municipalities where the annual library appropriation pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:54-8 and N.J.S.A. 40:54-29.4 is retained in the custody of the municipal treasurer and disbursed by him or her after approval by the board of trustees of the free public library, any prior year unexpended funds remaining from the annual mandatory library appropriation shall be retained in the library-controlled account dedicated for eligible purposes, as defined in N.J.A.C. 15:21-12.3 and 12.5, for the maintenance of such municipality’s public library.


N.J.S.A. 40:54-15 Annual report, identification of excess funds to municipality, transfer procedure.

a. The board of trustees shall make an annual report to the chief financial officer of the municipality which shall include a statement setting forth in detail all public revenues received by the library, all State aid received by the library, all expenditures made by the library and the balance of funds available. Notwithstanding the requirements of R.S.40:54-8 pertaining to the amount required to be raised and appropriated for library purposes, the annual report shall identify excess funds that the board is required to approve and transfer to the municipality as miscellaneous revenue. The excess funds transferred shall be any amount that exceeds the sum of the amount of the audited operating expenditures of the library for the most recent available year, plus an additional 20% of those operating expenditures, excluding: (1) funds restricted for capital projects and grants; and (2) any devise, bequest, or donation made to establish or maintain the free public library, to be maintained as surplus. The annual report shall also include an analysis of the state and condition of the library and shall be sent to the municipal governing body and to the State Library. The State Librarian shall prescribe by regulation the form of all such reports. (Read more online.)


N.J.A.C. 15:21-12.6 Ineligible municipal or joint free public library costs that may not be supported with the annual mandatory library appropriation

(a) The annual mandatory library appropriation shall not be expended by the library board of trustees for ineligible costs as defined in this chapter and including:

1. Debt or lease payments made to a municipality;
2. Rent or lease payments made to a municipality;
3. Capital expenses not meeting the criteria of N.J.A.C. 15:21-12.5(c); and
4. Debt service costs.

NJAC 15:21-12.5 (c) If trustees reserve funding for Capital expense using funds from the annual mandatory library appropriation, it is required by that the trustees have a plan of at least Three years, and that the plan will be made available to the State Librarian upon request.


N.J.S.A. 40:54-15 Annual report, identification of excess funds to municipality, transfer procedure.

a. The board of trustees shall make an annual report to the chief financial officer of the municipality which shall include a statement setting forth in detail all public revenues received by the library, all State aid received by the library, all expenditures made by the library and the balance of funds available. Notwithstanding the requirements of R.S.40:54-8 pertaining to the amount required to be raised and appropriated for library purposes, the annual report shall identify excess funds that the board is required to approve and transfer to the municipality as miscellaneous revenue. The excess funds transferred shall be any amount that exceeds the sum of the amount of the audited operating expenditures of the library for the most recent available year, plus an additional 20% of those operating expenditures, excluding: (1) funds restricted for capital projects and grants; and (2) any devise, bequest, or donation made to establish or maintain the free public library, to be maintained as surplus. The annual report shall also include an analysis of the state and condition of the library and shall be sent to the municipal governing body and to the State Library. The State Librarian shall prescribe by regulation the form of all such reports. (Read more online.)

N.J.A.C. 15:21-12.7 Annual municipal and joint free public library reports and audit

(a) Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:74-11, each library receiving State aid shall annually make and transmit a report to the State Librarian on or before a date designated by the State Librarian and based on a fiscal year, the statute not withstanding. Each library and municipality applying for per capita state aid will meet this requirement through the annual submission of the survey, application and certification. This report will contain such information, based upon the records and statistics of the preceding fiscal year, as the State Librarian shall require and will include the following elements: (Read more online.)

(d) A certified audit of the library board of trustees shall be performed annually as required by N.J.S.A. 40A:5-4 et seq. and described in N.J.A.C. 5:30-6.1. In some cases, all budget appropriations, fines, fees and all other income of the library are retained in the custody of the municipal treasurer in an account reserved for the library and disbursed by the municipal treasurer after approval by the board of trustees of the free public library. If the municipal audit includes a thorough audit of the library’s finances, including demonstration that the library board of trustees duly authorized all expenditures, then the municipal audit will meet this requirement.


N.J.S.A.2A:53A-7.3. Trustee of free public or regional library or member of county library commission;

immunity from liability. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, no person serving as a member of the board of trustees of a free public library or regional library, or as a member of a county library commission, shall be liable for damages resulting from the exercise of judgment or discretion in connection with the duties of his office unless the actions evidence a reckless disregard for the duties imposed by the position.

Director’s Role:

Reviewing the law at your board meetings will serve to empower your trustees as you navigate your relationship with your local governing body. This information may be useful if you have issues regarding the powers of your board, disbursement of funds by your municipality and annual reporting requirements.

BCCLS Advocacy Committee
Trustee Info & Action March 2015