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Public Library Director Manual

Public Library Director Manual - Introduction

This manual is intended as a "go-to" resource for Michigan public library directors. This manual is updated regularly to provide up-to-date information on the various duties of directorship and how to accomplish them successfully. 

Continuing Education Introduction


  • LM Collections Introduction

    As part of the Library of Michigan’s library collection, we purchase library science materials for library staff around the state to use. It is a circulating “Librarian’s Library” of library science materials available to library staff from all library types. The collection is wide-ranging and includes materials for public, academic and school libraries. Anyone can borrow the materials through MeLCat or interlibrary loan. To find materials, search the Library of Michigan's catalog, ANSWER, by topic, or browse the Library Science Collection (#3 in the list). If you don’t find what you need, please contact us with a suggestion for us to purchase.

    Related Links: 
    Library Science Collection Overview
    Library Science Collection




  • Continuing Education Stipend Program

    LM's Continuing Education Stipend Program helps by providing financial support for library staff continuing education. Michigan public, academic and school library staff are eligible to apply for continuing education stipends. Those awarded stipends will have their library reimbursed a fixed amount based on the location and type of event attended after all documents have been submitted.

    Program Criteria and Application Questions

  • Penal Fines for Public Libraries

    Since 1835, Michigan's Constitution has contained a provision stating income from penal fines shall be used for the support of Public Libraries. County treasurers receive and distribute penal fine income.

    Related Links:
    LM 2018 Penal Fines Fact Sheet
    Penal Fines Act 59 of 1964

  • Grants at the Library of Michigan



    As part of the Library of Michigan’s efforts to provide statewide services to libraries and their communities, we have two grant programs. The first is the Collaborative Library Services Grant program, which provides funds to develop innovative community partnership projects that have the potential to develop into regional or statewide programs. The second is the Public Library Services grant program, which provides funds for summer public library programming. The summer programs can be for technology, children & youth, or literacy.


  • LM Collaborative Library Services Grant

    This highly competitive multi-year grant program provides Michigan public, academic and school libraries the opportunity to develop innovative programs or services that have the potential to develop into sustainable regional or statewide programs that can benefit a broad range of libraries. Programs with strong partnerships between libraries, and/or local community groups or agencies have greater community support, so partnerships are a requirement for this grant. In the past, the Library of Michigan has funded two to four projects in a grant cycle.

  • Library Services & Technology Act (LSTA)

    Library Services & Technology Act Funding
    The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) provides funding for libraries through the Museum and Library Services Act, also known as the Library Services & Technology Act (LSTA). The funds are distributed through state libraries and are for use in providing statewide services for public, academic and school libraries. The funding for 2018 is $4.3 million. The annual amount depends on the state funding match and IMLS’s annual budget.

    As part of the requirements for funding, the Library of Michigan has a Five-Year Plan for service that, once approved by IMLS, acts as a legal guide for how the annual funding allotment is used. The plan must align with the purposes and priorities of the LSTA legislation. Every five years, the Library of Michigan engages the Michigan library community to evaluate the impact of the projects from the previous five-year plan and to develop the next five-year plan.


  • State Aid & the Annual Report



    State aid is paid to public libraries each year under an appropriation of general funds determined by Michigan Legislation. 

    Related Links:
    State Aid to Public Libraries Act
    State Aid to Public Libraries Application Process

    Annual Report/State Aid Application

    Each year about 98% of Michigan's public libraries provide library data while participating in the Annual Report/State Aid Application.  The reporting period runs from October 1st to February 1st and libraries interested in receiving state aid must submit their applications within this timeframe.  All Michigan public library directors are granted an account to access the LibPAS application.

    Related Links:
    Annual Report/State Aid Application Instructions
    Annual Report Definitions



  • Open Meetings Act (OMA)

    The Open Meetings Act (OMA), 1976 PA 267, MCL 15.261 et.seq. is Michigan’s version of what many states call “Law in the Sunshine” acts. It is a variation of Freedom of Information Acts in that the intent of the OMA is government transparency. The OMA specifies that any decision or determination of a public body must be accomplished in a “public meeting.”

  • Copyright and Libraries

    The Copyright Act of 1976, 17 USC section 101, et seq, governs, for the United States, how literary, artistic, phonographic, photographic, musical,  film, digital, and other creative works may be utilized by people other than the creators of those works. While the law provides a broad safe harbor against prosecution for uses that are deemed “Fair Use,” it should be noted that “Fair Use” requires an analysis of the planned use against a set of four criteria – and a non-profit, “educational” use is not always, by itself, a Fair Use.

  • Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

    The Freedom of Information Act (1976 PA 442, MCL 15.231, et.seq.) functions as a counterpart to the Open Meetings Act. Instead of focusing on meetings and activities of government, FOIA focuses on documents and information. FOIA is also rooted firmly around the idea that government activities should be transparent – that in a nation where governance is “of the people, by the people and for the people,” people should have complete access to the documents and work product of government.

  • Libraries and the First Amendment

    The First Amendment of the United States Constitution:

    "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

  • Intellectual Freedom

    Intellectual Freedom – Collection Development and Challenges – The most common First Amendment issue many libraries face is opposition to particular titles or types of materials. Libraries should have thoughtful, well compiled written policies and procedures for how to respond when library materials are challenged. The American Library Association has useful resources and assistance for libraries facing materials challenges.

    Intellectual freedom – Restriction of Materials. The ALA’s Library Bill of Rights supports the ability of patrons to access any materials they wish, regardless of age or reading level. Libraries are encouraged to balance open access with applicable Federal, State & local laws (for example, some Federal programs require filtering of computers), with the needs of their communities.



  • Library Policy Database

    Policies guide the daily operation of the library and the decision-making of the library director and staff. Essentially, policies provide the framework for library operations and services. Carefully developed policies can help ensure high-quality library service that provides for community needs, wise use of library resources, and fair treatment of library staff and library users. Library boards should approve policies to cover many issues, including a patron code of conduct, the services offered by the library (such as the hours the library is open to the public), circulation of materials, selection of books and other resources, confidentiality of patron records, and use of electronic resources. The library personnel policy and the board bylaws are two essential statements of policy relating to library and library board internal operations.

    Related Links:
    Colorado Library Consortium Public Library Policy Collection
    United for Libraries' Sample Library Policies
    Library Policy Resources from WebJunction
    ALA Library Policy Development



  • Michigan eLibrary (MeL) Introduction

    The Michigan eLibrary, MeL, is a statewide service administered by the Library of Michigan, an agency of the Michigan Department of Education. The Library of Michigan contracts with the Midwest Collaborative for Library Services (MCLS) to provide support and training for the components of MeL and partners with a number of organizations and institutions to provide MeL services. A starting point for Michigan residents and libraries of all types, MeL offers a rich set of information resources for a wide range of ages and skill levels. MeL is made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Additional funding is provided by the State of Michigan and the Library of Michigan Foundation.

  • MeL eResources

    With over 65 databases covering topics such as general interest (including auto repair and family history/genealogy to newspapers and reader’s advisory), PreK-12 educational resources, allied health, business, reference eBooks and test prep and workforce skills building, MeL eResources are a one-stop-shop for high quality, vetted, reliable information at no cost to users. Access is available via GeoIP and direct URLs.
    MeL Databases Listing
    MeL Databases Help
    MeL IP Reporting Form
    MeL Direct URLs

    MeL eResource Training and Support

    MCLS regularly offers free training materials ranging from PDF documentation, short videos and webinars to in-person training sessions. Additionally, MeL Engagement Specialists for the education and library communities provide support to incorporate MeL resources into the state’s PreK-12 curriculum and local library services.

    Upcoming MeL Workshops
    MeL Training Calendar: Archived Sessions
    Promotional materials for the MeL eResources are also available at MeL Promotion & Training.

  • MeLCat

    MeLCat Statewide Catalog is the centralized union catalog and resource sharing service created to share materials among all types of libraries in Michigan, regardless of the local circulation system they use. MeLCat contains up-to-date holdings from all participating libraries. While the ability to search MeLCat is open to everyone, only eligible patrons from participating libraries may request materials to be delivered to their home libraries. MeLCat does not replace a local integrated library system.

    • Library participation is voluntary
    • Holdings are updated frequently
    • Libraries’ holdings for the same title are brought together
    • Records for statewide licensed resources are included (EBSCO eBooks and full-text journals)
    • New libraries are added regularly. If your library would like to join MeLCat visit MCLS’ Joining MeLCat webpage.

    MeLCat Training and Support

    MCLS regularly offers training and any library staff involved in MeLCat may sign up for classes using the online registration system. Most MeLCat classes are free.
    Upcoming MeLCat Workshops

    MeLCat Advisory Committee

    Comprised of representatives from all library types across the state, the MeLCat Advisory Committee advises the State Librarian on policies for the statewide catalog and resource-sharing system. Specific areas of focus include database standards, MeLCat system evaluation, borrowing and lending policies and best practices.



  • Professional Organizations for Public Library Directors

    American Library Association (ALA)

    Association for Rural & Small Libraries (ARSL)
    The Association for Rural & Small Libraries, Inc. is a network of persons throughout the country dedicated to the positive growth and development of libraries.  ARSL believes in the value of rural and small libraries and strives to create resources and services that address national, state, and local priorities for libraries situated in rural communities.

    Friends of Michigan Public Libraries (FOML)
    The mission of the Friends of Michigan Libraries “is to support the activities of local Michigan libraries and to be advocates for libraries at the state level. FOML will serve as clearinghouse and information center for all Friends groups in the State of Michigan by planning meetings to exchange ideas, by supporting a newsletter to go to member groups, and by offering workshops and speakers to help advance the goals of Friends working with libraries, whether as program planners, as volunteers, as advocates of library legislation, or as a source of financial contributions and support.”

    FOML Trustee Alliance

    Michigan Library Association (MLA)

    Midwest Collaborative for Library Services (MCLS)

    United for Libraries
    United for Libraries (UFL) is the division of the American Libraries Association (ALA) that advocates for and provides information about Friends Groups and Library Trustees/Boards of Directors. On the UFL site, users can find an array of tools designed to assist these groups in understanding and performing their roles for public libraries. Some information on the site is free to the public, but much of the content (such as videos and sample documents) is only accessible by members of this division. The Library of Michigan provides access to these resources to all Michigan Libraries through an annual Statewide Membership paid for with LSTA funds. This membership provides a username and password which may be used by any Michigan Library Friend group, Trustee or library employee to access the site and its information. To obtain the username and password, contact the Library of Michigan.



  • Quality Services Audit Checklist (QSAC)

    The Quality Services Audit Checklist is a voluntary management standards program that assists public libraries by setting benchmarks for Governance & Administration, Human Resources, Services, Collection Development, Technology, Facilities & Equipment and Public Relations. The Library of Michigan recognizes public libraries as they achieve each level. Libraries can be certified at the Essential, Enhanced and Excellent levels on a three-year update and renewal schedule to ensure the measures and libraries stay on top of quality service. LM works with volunteer librarians every three years to revise the measures based on participating libraries' experiences and new trends in library services, programs and technology.





  • Ploud - Public Libraries in the Cloud

    Ploud (Public Libraries in the Cloud) is a feature-rich and easy to use library-specific website template and hosting solution. Over 120 libraries in Michigan use Ploud and it serves half of the small and rural libraries in the lower peninsula.


    • It includes an advanced calendar, event registration software, carousels, the ability to use drag and drop elements to create your own page layouts, Google mapping for your library location, and more.
    • There is a minimal price tag for libraries. In 2019, the cost to each library was $207. 55% of the total cost each year is paid for with Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) dollars.
    • The vendor maintains a searchable, online repository of articles to assist you in operating your site and staffs a year-round help desk reachable online or by phone.
    • The Library of Michigan conducts regional, in-person training in the fall of most years.
    • Ploud provides an easy-to-learn, easy-to-update website template with four different themes and multiple color schemes. It is designed for libraries without specialized technology staff but is easily expandable. Most libraries who use Ploud are class 1-3 but Michigan has several larger library systems that make good use of Ploud. 
    • The technology "heavy lifting" of security and product updates is done by the vendor, Enfold Systems.
    • You can find more about Ploud, including the Michigan libraries that use this product, at

    The LM is currently accepting new libraries into the program. 

  • E-Rate

    Just over 20 years old, E-Rate allows K-12 institutions and public libraries to receive discounts on their Internet service bills and other costs such as managed internal broadband services and basic maintenance of internal connections. This is for equipment like switches and routers and products for managing wi-fi networks. The discount rate, which can be as high as 90%, is based on the number of community school children eligible for the National School Lunch Program.

    Over the past two years Michigan has seen an increase of 39% in the total amount requested by libraries. E-Rate is vitally important for libraries and has a direct impact on service for Michigan residents. 4.3 million dollars were committed to hundreds of Michigan libraries last year. E-Rate helps to level the playing field for Michiganders who use library services to access the Internet.

    Libraries can apply on their own or as part of a consortium of other libraries, or a consortium of schools and libraries. A little less than half of Michigan libraries who apply for E-Rate do so with the benefit of a consortium application. Three of the four large consortium applications are handled by co-operative staff. There are a few school/library consortium applications and we expect that number to grow as the Michigan State Education Network (Mi-SEN) lights up a fiber infrastructure across all schools in the state using E-Rate dollars. That network will be available to libraries working with their local ISD tech directors. Many libraries rely on a consultant to navigate the program.


    Related Links:
    Library of Michigan E-Rate Support Website
    Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) Federal Support Website