Superiorland’s Board of Directors and Board Representatives: What’s the Difference?

At their next regularly scheduled meeting on June 21st, the Superiorland Library Cooperative Board of Directors will be voting on amendments to their bylaws. These proposed changes retire the rotation system that currently gives Board representatives the opportunity to serve on the Board of Directors, and replaces it with an annual election. These potential changes are an excellent opportunity for Superiorland to provide some clarity on the role of Superiorland’s Board representatives and their Board of Directors.

What is a Superiorland Board representative?
Every Superiorland member library has the opportunity to appoint one representative to the Superiorland Board. These representatives can be any adult resident of Superiorland’s service area, including your library’s director, other designated staff person, a member of your local library board, or a lay person. To be appointed to the Superiorland Board, your local library board must formally appoint them in a public meeting. After that, we ask that you send us a copy of the resolution appointing the individual to the Superiorland board, or a copy of the meeting minutes indicating the appointment.

Board representatives give your local library a voice at Superiorland’s Board meetings. While representatives cannot vote on action items, they can participate in discussion alongside the 9-member voting Board, and may participate in Board meetings remotely via Zoom, or in-person. This provides an excellent opportunity for Board representatives to learn more about Superiorland services, engage with the voting Board about Superiorland’s general operation, and provide feedback as they see fit. Some of our Board representatives also report back to their local library boards to keep them abreast of Superiorland resources and changes.

The last thing I want to note about the Board representative role is that it can serve as a great introduction to Superiorland services and governance for individuals that may want to serve as a voting Board member in the future. As a Board representative, you engage with Superiorland as an attendee at board meetings and receive email updates that are routed to all board members. By learning more about the organization over time, Board representatives are in a great position to move into a voting member Board position if they choose to someday stand for election.

What is the Superiorland Voting Board?
Superiorland’s voting Board, also referred to in our bylaws as the Board of Directors, is made up of 9 Board members that constitute the official governing body of Superiorland. The State Aid to Public Libraries Act, which established cooperative libraries in Michigan, dictates that cooperatives are governed by a 9-member governing Board. With our current system, a library’s Board representative has the opportunity to become a voting member through a rotation process (Of course, we are shifting to a system in which voting members are elected to the Board of Directors). Because our voting members are drawn from the group of Board representatives, likewise, they can be any adult resident of the Superiorland service area.

As the governing body of Superiorland, the voting Board (again, also known as the Board of Directors) is tasked with carrying out duties described in The State Aid to Public Libraries Act and in the Superiorland bylaws, such as operation of the cooperative, selection of a Board chairperson, maintaining of services for member libraries, the hiring of a director, etc. As described in the name, the “voting” Board members have the privilege of voting on agenda items in Superiorland board meetings, and other duties as described in their bylaws. Like the governing boards of Public Libraries in Michigan, the Superiorland Board of Directors is required to meet in-person to host their public meetings. This means a quorum of the 9-member Board of Directors must be present to carry out board business.

Engagement and participation as a member of the Board of Directors is very important. Like your local library boards, Superiorland simply cannot conduct Board business in the absence of a Board quorum. The in-person meeting requirement has certainly been a hurdle for the Board of Directors, and as you can imagine, if Superiorland could not ensure a quorum consistently, all of our work in service to member libraries would stall. And this is why it is so important that we fill all 9 voting member seats, and ensure that all voting members have the ability to attend our meetings in person.

If you have further questions about the proposed bylaw changes, or the role of the Superiorland Board of Directors and Board representatives, please contact Dillon Geshel at or by phone at 1-906-228-7697 Ext. 1.

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