Monday Briefing - May 16, 2022

Oaths of Office for Public Libraries

When reviewing Annual Reports this year, DLD sent a general reminder that Trustees of Public Libraries are required to file their oath of office within 30 days of their appointment. A new oath is required for each term a trustee is elected or appointed to fill. Be sure to check your bylaws to make sure the procedure your library follows is up to date.

Association Libraries, you are not required to file an oath, but having trustees take one is a good practice to have in place, especially if you collect public funds.

Oath of Office

Trustees and officers, including the Library Treasurer and Library District Clerk, of municipal, school district, and special legislative district public libraries, and trustees of cooperative and federated library systems are required to file the oath of office specified in the New York State Constitution. It is now recommended that library directors take the oath as well:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States, and the constitution of the State of New York, and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office of trustee of the ________Library, according to the best of my ability.”

The oath may be given by any officer of the court (judge, attorney, notary public), or the library's board president or district clerk if they have taken an oath of office, and must be filed in the local county clerk’s office (or with the town clerk for town library trustees). For a trustee, treasurer or district clerk, failure to do so within 30 days of commencing their term of office will vacate the position. (

For libraries with an appointed or elected board it is good practice for the board to request a formal letter or certificate of appointment or election for each new trustee from the body that made the appointment or conducted the election.

Library Directors & the Oath of Office

Though in the past Library Directors have not generally taken the oath, the Commissioner of Education, in a decision related to a similar practice for School Superintendents stated “…it is sound public policy to treat school superintendents as public officers with respect to oaths of office.” Given that libraries are part of the education infrastructure and fall under the auspices of the Commissioner of Education, we would consider it as a “best practice” to do likewise for the Director as Chief Executive Officer of a public library. Taking the Oath is yet another examples of how libraries can demonstrate a commitment to accountability and transparency.

Source: Trustee Handbook, pg. 23

Question of the Week: Mileage Reimbursement

Q: Has the System ever considered increasing mileage reimbursement costs to members? Half the IRS rate seems low considering gas prices.

A: This is a question that comes up from time to time and I'm always happy to answer because I think it helps libraries better implement travel reimbursement. According to our Fees and Grants document, the System pays mileage at 50% of the current IRS-approved rate per mile for System sponsored events that are not held primarily held online. This reimbursement is meant to supplement, not replace, the local libraries' travel reimbursement policies for staff. Libraries should have their own travel reimbursement policies in their Employee Handbook that covers local authorized travel. This policy can include mileage, conferences, meals, etc.

Our current policy reads…

Mileage Reimbursements for Employees Using Personal Vehicles

When the System Vehicle is not used, mileage for approved travel of System staff is paid at the current IRS reimbursement rate. Staff are notified of the rate and the travel reimbursement forms are updated by the Finance Director around the first of each year. The form master is on the local drive folder on our shared drive. Copy the file for your individual use, submit electronically to the Finance Director when you consider the claim substantial. Please include your full name and address on each claim form. If you are tracking expenses for a grant, indicate the grant on the
project allocation line.

Mileage Notes
- The costs of commuting to and from work are not allowable.
- Mileage will be reimbursed for round-trip travel between the System office and the location of an allowable business function.
- If an employee departs from or returns to their home instead of the System office, only the miles in excess of the normal daily commute can be submitted for reimbursement.
- If you travel on a day that is not a workday, all mileage traveled should be claimed as you would not be commuting to work on that day.
- When attending a multi-day conference, it is only necessary to deduct your normal commute on the first and last travel day.

If your library does not have an existing mileage reimbursement policy for employees, I would suggest putting one in your Employee Handbook. Even if travel is not something that occurs regularly, it is good to have a policy in case something comes up in the future. The intent of a policy is to make the employee whole after work-related travel.

Minor Cost Change - Button Maker

Just a quick FYI, we're making a mid-year change to the supply cost of the Button Maker, it's going from $5 to $6. This is in response to increased material costs. We'll be updating the Fees and Grants document at the June System Board Meeting to reflect this change.

Libraries in the News

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