Charity trustees are the people who share ultimate responsibility for governing a charity and directing how it is managed and run. They may be called trustees, the board, the management committee, governors, directors or something else. - The Essential Trustee, The Charity Commission
As the SLA is both a company and a charity board members are registered trustees (as a Registered Charity: 313660 in England and Wales, SC039453 in Scotland), and also Directors of the SLA as a Company limited by Guarantee, (registered in England no. 552476).
These are legal positions, so you cannot be a Trustee if you have been disqualified from being a Director of a Company. Having legal responsibility can sound scary, but it means you have to fulfil the duties of a Trustee to the best of your ability; in general this means attending as many board meetings as possible, being engaged, asking questions, reading the papers and contributing your opinion, thoughts and take on the issues being discussed.
The SLA Board is required to have 12 trustees; this enables a wide range of skills and experience. To allow discussions to come to the best conclusion it is important that the board reflects the widest possible range of sectors, regions and experience and represents the diversity of the United Kingdom. Our trustees have a wide range of skills and new trustees are appointed with any skills gap in mind, so vacancies are therefore advertised widely across the library, education and volunteering sectors depending on the need.
What about this year?
This year we are recruiting four trustees, and particularly looking for people with knowledge in these areas: income generation, business/legal knowledge, digital and campaigning/advocacy.
What if I want to apply?
If you want to apply, read the descriptions below and decide which role best suits you. Read the trustee role description, and the declaration form - you have to confirm you've read this as part of the application process. When you're ready, apply here. The deadline is 3rd June 2022.
If you have any questions, have a chat with Sue Bastone (email@example.com). Below you'll find FAQs, more information on the process, and all the documents you need.
Who can take part? - You have to be an SLA member to be a Trustee, but you can join once elected.
How do the board meetings happen? - They are taking place virtually, alternating between Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings. There is also an away day once a year, where everyone meets in person. If these would mean you can't attend, but you are interested please do get in touch anyway, these times have been created with our current board in mind and can be changed.
What if I can't attend all the board meetings? - This is normal; it is rare that everyone can attend every single board meeting. They are planned in advance for the following year to allow people to pre-plan as much as possible. It is important that even if you can't attend you read the papers and send thoughts, questions etc. Reading the minutes after is also important, as once a decision is made by the board all trustees are accountable for it - it doesn't matter if you attended the meeting or not - so it's vital you raise any concerns etc.
Are these paid positions? - No, these are volunteer roles, and the rules around payment for trustees are very strict. All expenses will be covered, but trustees cannot have access to benefits not open to normal members.
Having legal responsibility sounds scary; what does it mean in practice? - It does sound scary, and there is responsibility for the Association, however, decisions are taken by a whole board not by one person. The Association also has staff, including a CEO, who are knowledgeable and responsible for the day to day running of the organisation. As a Trustee there are 6 main duties of a trustee. They are outlined in the document below.
I hold a position with another charity/company/organisation, can I still be a Trustee? - There is nothing to stop you being a trustee and working/volunteering elsewhere. You may need to consider workload implications carefully, but work in other areas can make you a better Trustee. There is a declaration of conflict for loyalty and interest which all trustees fill out, and at the start of any meeting you will be asked if there's anything on the agenda which forms a conflict. If there is, you let the trustees know, and remove yourself for that part of the conversation. This is normal, and good practice.
What kind of work does a trustee do? - This relates to the strategy and governance of the Association. A great example of this is the development of the new SLA strategy for 2022-27. You can read a blog on this from Chair of the Board, Sue Bastone, here.
Vacancies are advertised in Spring to be appointed at the following AGM for the year. Following an initial application form and subject to the legal Declaration Form being completed, a shortlist of candidates will progress to interview by a selection committee of Trustees. Recommended candidates will then be put forward to the members for election at the AGM.
Trustees are normally elected at an AGM for a three year term (renewable once if re-elected). You can stand down mid-term if required, however you can only stop being a trustee if the Association still meets the minimum requirement for the number of Trustees needed. This may mean you need to stay on the board while a new trustee is appointed. In these circumstances the Chair and CEO would work with the Trustee to support them as best as possible.
Once elected by the members at the AGM, you then become a Trustee (and Director). You will be registered as such at Companies House and the Charity Commission. If, at the end of your three year term, you wish to stand for re-election you can do so. Each year the Chair considers the skills and abilities the board requires, and this is advertised to Trustees wishing to stand again, as well as all members.