Performance Evaluations


Click here to watch the November 8, 2021 workshop recording .

Evaluating Your Director

In order to maintain clear communication and effective management it is critical for the trustees to regularly evaluate the performance of the library director. It is often one of the most difficult tasks as well. Handbook for Library Trustees of New York State, page 46.

Reasons to Conduct Performance Evaluations

  1. Formal feedback on job performance
  2. Critical information about the operations and performance of the library
  3. Establish goals and objectives of the library and Director
  4. Compensation to job performance
  5. Improve communication
  6. Provide motivation, direction, and encouragement
  7. Document unsatisfactory performance

Evaluation Metrics

To develop a practical evaluation, the Director and Personnel Committee (or full Board) should meet to discuss the overall process and metrics. Without an agreed-upon method, the evaluation will be arbitrary at best.

This discussion should happen well before the actual evaluation. A Director should know the metrics so they can make sure to focus their energy on those areas.

Documents Needed

  1. Up to Date Job Description
  2. Long-Range Plan
  3. Previous Performance Plans or Evaluations (if applicable)
  4. Last Year's Goals or Objectives (if applicable)
  5. Employment Contracts or Agreements (if applicable)

Metrics to Consider

  • Overall Performance
  • Progress on Goals and Objectives
  • Information Provided at Board Meetings
  • Self Evaluation

Delivering an Evaluation

  • All performance evaluations should be conducted in a closed committee or board session
  • To accomplish this you may enter into Executive Session using the provision, "The medical, financial, credit or employment history of a particular person or corporation, or matters leading to the appointment, employment, promotion, demotion, discipline, suspension, dismissal or removal of a particular person or corporation

Evaluation Samples

Delivering Effective Feedback

Ongoing Feedback

An annual performance review is considered Formal Feedback; however, there is also Ongoing Feedback. Ongoing feedback occurs regularly where tasks and goals are reviewed regularly. Boards can use this method by using the monthly Director Report. Take a look at what is in there. What else would you like to see more of? Does it offer a narrative of what is happening at the library? Is there more information you would like to see? Keep in mind the time it takes to produce these every month.

Intention of Feedback

A priority when evaluating the Director is to encourage growth. Help your employee see the areas the library can evolve from a birds-eye view and try not to get hung up on weaknesses and faults. If there is an issue, invite the Director to offer solutions to help solve the problem.


What better way to encourage a Director than to recognize accomplishments? Much like feedback, this can happen throughout the year, not just during an evaluation.


With all the ins and outs of running a library, sometimes Directors could use a little help. Consider one-on-one coaching from a Trustee who understands the operation of the library or a trained professional who can offer advice and support.

Continuing Education

Boards should be investing in their directors through Continuing Education. The Trustee Handbook suggests that 1% of the library's overall budget should be for CE. Do you have this practice in your library?

No one is born an expert at their job. On the job learning, mentoring and continuing education opportunities are essential to an employee’s success and therefore the library’s success. The board should adequately budget for continuing education for staff, including the ability for staff to attend educational opportunities on work time and accommodations to underwrite the travel costs to workshops and conferences. At least 1% of the library’s operating budget should be invested into education for staff and trustees. A good library never stops learning. Trustee Handbook, page 48.

Your First Responsibility

As a trustee, it is sometimes necessary to remind yourself that your first responsibility is to the library and the community it serves. The role of employer may be a role to which many trustees are unaccustomed and it can sometimes seem easier to let an uncomfortable situation slide rather than face it head on. This is especially the case in small communities where trustees and library staff may have been friends and neighbors for many years. An unwillingness to deal directly with difficult personnel issues will ultimately damage the library and its ability to provide the best service to the community. If a library director has truly demonstrated a continuing, documented inability to manage the library effectively, the board must look for a new person who can do so rather than make excuses or run the library themselves. Trustee Handbook, page 48.

Evaluating the Board

A strong, vibrant board of directors is a clear indicator of a healthy organization. The evaluation of the Director is an excellent opportunity for the board to evaluate their performance. In order for a board to operate effectively, they need to have the following:
  1. Understanding of their role as a governing body;
  2. Knowledge and experience that match the strategic demands facing the library;
  3. Information on threats to the organizations and potential benefits;
  4. Motivation to carry out governance tasks required for the next year and beyond;
  5. Time to dedicate to organizational goals; and
  6. Collective authority guiding the operations and decision-making of the board.
Your board can certainly have a series of conversations that covers these topics. It would be best to do that outside of a normal board meeting so people can engage with the concept of being a governing body. A few recommendations to help would be to regularly review items in the Trustee Handbook as a group, complete assessments like the Sample Board Meeting Evaluation Checklist.docx and talk about the results, and have candid conversations about board participation. These conversations will also help when it comes to recruiting new board members.
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