Hennepin County Library Board Policy
The purpose of this policy is to clarify how Hennepin County Library Board members communicate with one another and with Library administration in accordance with Minnesota Open Meeting and Government Data Practices Laws.
“Library business” refers to the responsibilities and powers of the County Library Board as outlined in the Board’s bylaws.
“Non-substantive matters” refers to topics of coordination, such as reminders of meeting times, dates, places, or suggestions for agenda items.
It is the goal of the Library Board to keep all board members and Library administration informed about matters related to the work of the Library Board. In accordance with Minnesota Open Meeting Laws, Minn. Stat. § 13D.01-.08, Board member communications on library business are executed during Board or Committee meetings. Email is used as a one-way communication and for non-substantive matters.
Board members must be mindful of the requirements of Minnesota Open Meeting Laws and Minnesota Government Data Practices and how they impact email communications. The Open Meeting Law’s requirements apply to written communications (email, text message, etc.) when the communication: (1) is among a quorum of the Board and (2) it is about library business. Back-and-forth email communication among a quorum of a public body in which official business is discussed violates the open meeting law. However, one-way communication between the chair (or another board member) and all other library board members is permissible, such as when the chair sends meeting materials via email to all board members, as long as no discussion or decision-making ensues. Board members may have a non-public meeting, send an email, or have a non-public social media discussion with less than a quorum of Board members. There is no expectation of privacy for any messages sent or received by email in connection with a Board member’s role.
Library Board members will receive Board packets, meeting invites, and reminders via email. This information is also posted to the public website.
Library administration may provide information relating to library business to Library Board members using email. Any response from Library Board members regarding these communications must be sent only to Library Administration, not the entire Board.
Additionally, patron feedback is critical to the work of the Board. Outside of public comment periods of Board meetings, patrons can contact the Library Board by mail or by email through Library Administration.
Library Board members are provided with one another’s email address and phone numbers, unless an individual board member requests that their contact information is not shared. When contact information is shared with a quorum of Board members, the information is considered public data.
The Library maintains a single Library Board email address. Emails sent to this address go to the board members private email addresses and to Library Administration. When emails from the public require a Board response, the President or their designee will respond and will copy other Board members and Library Administration. The President will inform Library Administration when they should respond to an email.
This policy is reviewed by the Library Board (or a committee thereof) every four years, or more frequently as needed. Recommendations are advanced to the Library Board Policy Committee, which reviews, revises as necessary, endorses, and advances to the full Library Board for approval.
Associated Policies and Laws
Next review: 2023
Date adopted: September 21, 2022