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Board Member Orientation: Library Governance, Part 2


You’ve probably realized that the library board has more autonomy than other city departments - and you may be wondering why.


  • The library provides information from all points of view.  An autonomous board shields the library from political pressure and safeguards intellectual freedom.

  • Intellectual freedom is the right of every individual to both seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction.

  • A library should have information about controversial subjects from different points of view regardless of the views of elected officials.


Changing Your Library Ordinance

As you can see in the Iowa Code §392.5, "A proposal to alter the composition, manner of selection, or charge of a library board, or to replace it with an alternate form of administrative agency, is subject to the approval of the voters of the city."

The city council alone cannot change the library ordinance as far as number of board members, length of term, how they're appointed, or their authority.  Any proposed change needs to be voted on by city residents.

Duties and Responsibilities

These three handouts developed by the State Library are very helpful:

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