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Survival Guide for Idaho Librarians: Public Library Directors

A quick-start ready reference source for the accidental public library director or school librarian in Idaho


ICFL - Idaho Commission for LibrariesThis Survival Guide has been designed to provide the unexpected public library director with professionally-curated resources that lead to success and to identify tutorials and expert advice on specific topics, duties, and tasks involved in running a public library, including:

  • planning,
  • policy development, and
  • resources to help illuminate the new director's path to enlightenment.
If you are in doubt about how to get started in your new role, please follow the steps listed below, and we will be happy to assist you!



Step 1: Locate Your Library's Transition Notebook

If your library director were to depart or become incapacitated with little or no warning, how would the new (or interim) director learn to run the library? You never know what might happen tomorrow, so it is critical to the library’s continued well-being to leave a Transition Notebook. When the library's director moves on, or when the unforeseen happens, the library's staff and board will need this information as well.

If your predecessors have not left you a Transition Notebook, the perfect time to start one for your library is right now. Just fill it in as you learn! Please follow the link for more information.


Step 2: Contact Your ICfL Area Field Consultant

The Idaho Commission for Libraries employs two Area Field Consultants who area available to answer your questions concerning library development, operations, and support, including library law, open meetings law, trustee issues and orientation, policy formation, best practices for public libraries, serving the underserved, strategic planning, succession planning, and library district formation. If you are uncertain which Area Field Consultant to contact, you can click on the link below to find out which consultant works primarily with your part of the state.

If we are busy assisting another library when you call, please leave a voicemail message and we will get back to you ASAP!


Who is my area field consultant? Find Out Here.


Emily Sitz, Area Field Consultant, Moscow Office
208-882-8882 local
866-212-0646 toll-free


Kevin Tomlinson, Area Field Consultant, Boise Office
208-334-2150 local or 800-458-3271 toll-free


Step 3: Subscribe to LibIdaho

The Idaho Commission for Libraries (ICfL) makes many of its announcements via LibIdaho, so you will want to subscribe to this e-mail discussion list as soon as you can.

     LibIdaho is intended for people interested in all aspects of libraries and librarianship in Idaho. Membership is not limited to librarians, Idaho residents, or ILA members, but the list will probably be of greatest interest and value to those who are working in libraries in Idaho. LibIdaho is provided by the Idaho Library Association (ILA). The ILA welcomes respectful discussion of professional issues. You can learn more about LibIdaho here.


Too Much Library Jargon? Never Fear.

The Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science (ODLIS) by Joan M. Reitz is a comprehensive and reliable English-language resource for terminology used in all types of libraries.

     Library folk tend to use a lot of abbreviations, acronyms, initialisms, and professional jargon, so this dictionary will come in handy as you learn the ropes. You may wish to bookmark it on your browser.


Resources for Learning about Public Library Operations and Management

Nobody expects you to learn everything all at once. You can refer back to this evergreen advice as often as you need to.

I.   Governance and Administration

  • Boardsmanship: Or, Who Does What?
  • Budgeting and Finance: Or, Free Libraries Aren't Cheap!
  • Library Law: Or, Is All This Legal?
  • Personnel: Or, ...And I Thought We Were Friends?
  • Planning: Or, If I Knew Where We Were Going?
  • Policies: Or, Can You Put That In Writing?
  • Procedures: Or, Where's the Light Switch?
  • Statistics: Or, Count On It!

II. Collection Development and Management

  • The Collection: Or, Do You Have Something for Everyone?
  • Acquisitions: Or, How Do I Stretch the Budget?
  • Catalog: Or, Where Did You Find It?
  • Cataloging with MARC: Or, How Would You Describe It?      

III. Resource Sharing

IV. Programming

  •  Outreach: Or, Who Is Not Being Served?
  •  Special Populations: Or, How May I Help You?
  •  Summer Reading: Or, How To Avoid the Summer Slide?
  •  Youth Services: Or, How do I Connect With Young Adults?

V.  Public Services

VI. Technology

VII. Additional Topics

  •  Common Core: Or, How Can We Help Students?
  •  Community Building: Or,  How Do I Find a Good Partner?
  •  Continuing Education: Or, How Do I Learn More?
  •  Grant Writing: Or, Where's the Money?
  •  Idaho Commission for Libraries: Or,  Your Friends In Boise!
  •  Leadership: Or, Me? A Leader?
  •  Marketing: Or, What Is My Message?
  •  Volunteers: Or, Who Can Help?


Online Tutorials: Library Basics

Courses that form the core of a librarian's training.


Alternative Basic Library Education (ABLE)

Provides basic library knowledge and skills for staff with no formal library education. There are three ABLE sequences, provided free of charge by the ICfL.

  • Collection Development Sequence
  • Technical Services Sequence
  • Public Services Sequence

Upon completing all three sequences of the ABLE program, any learner may request an electronic program completion certificate from the Idaho Commission for Libraries.


Library Learning Online (formerly SABLE)

Offers self-paced learning to expand the knowledge and skills of library staff on topics for today's libraries. There are currently two LLO sequences, provided free of charge by the ICfL.

  • Youth Services
  • Special Courses


Public Library Directors' 101 Series

Whether you are new to the public library director role or are considering becoming a public library director in the future, this series will introduce you to the many and unique facets of public library directorship. This series of four on-demand recordings provides a broad overview that both informs and inspires. Click on the links to begin the presentations, and return to this resource as often as you like to complete the series.

  • Learner Guide
  • Ethics, Values, and Leadership for the Public Library Director
  • Community Relations
  • Planning the Project Management
  • Asset Management

Provided free of charge by Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA).