Skip to main content

Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners Resource Guide Collection

2023-2024 Grant Round: Application: The Committee

A rose by any other name...

The name of this planning committee can vary.

You may choose to call it a library space planning committee, library facility needs committee, or something else.

Whatever it is called, it should be established according to municipal protocol for establishing city/town committees. It is charged with completing the space planning and schematic design phase of a major library building project to the MPLCP Level of Design.

Who should be on it?

In order to launch a building project a board of trustees establishes a study committee comprised of interested individuals and library supporters (and even skeptics), community leaders, library staff, and local officials. This committee will plant the seeds that, after much hard work, will eventually become an improved library building.

Keep the following in mind when forming your committee:

1. Representation

  • Your town or city may have a standing or permanent Building Committee. If so, it's critical that the library director and at least two trustees be accepted as attendees, or preferably voting members, for the duration of your project
  • If the committee is formed for this project, make sure you follow local bylaws for appointing members
  • Local officials and community leaders should be represented
  • The members must represent all facets of your community
  • Members with construction, design, project management, public relations, and communications experience can be helpful 

2. The skills

  • Committee members must represent the best interests of the community
  • They must be connected and respected in all facets of local life
  • They must be or become knowledgeable about public libraries and their vital role in society
  • They must work cooperatively and be problem solvers
  • They must have good communication skills and be willing to stay in close touch when necessary
  • They must have time, flexibility and willingness to devote to meetings and committee tasks

There's no magic number for how many people should serve on the committee, but it's good to remember that it's a working committee, not a talking committee. A lot of work is involved.

After the committee members are chosen

Your committee needs to work together as a team.
Each team member should:

  • Know the project objectives
  • Be aware of his/her responsibilities within the team
  • Understand the limit or range of these responsibilities
  • Understand the commitment required e.g. time, meetings, visits
  • Have clear expectations of their role