What are bylaws?

Every Friends of the Library must have bylaws. This guiding document governs how the organization is structured, how meetings are run, and most important, the mission and goals of the organization.

What should you include?

  1. Name of Organization. Clearly state the name of the organization (Friends of the Library)
  2. The organization’s overall purpose or mission. Define the goals and objectives of the FOL group.
  3. Membership Details.
    1. Specify who is eligible for membership.
    2. The process for joining, including any membership dues or fees.
  4. Outline membership rights and responsibilities.
    1. Define the roles of key officers (e.g., President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary).
    2. Detail the process for electing officers, their terms of office, and any limitations on consecutive terms.
    3. If you plan to have other board member positions. They must be included. This could include designated fundraising, programming, communications, or volunteer management positions.
  5. Meetings
    1. Specify how often regular meetings will be held and the procedures for calling special meetings.
    2. Describe the quorum requirements for conducting official business.
  6. Committees
    1. Allow for the creation of committees to focus on specific tasks or projects.
    2. Define the authority, composition, and responsibilities of committees.
  7. Finances:
    1. Outline financial procedures, including budgeting, fundraising, and handling of funds.
    2. Establish the role and responsibilities of the Treasurer.
    3. Define the process for financial reporting and auditing.
    4. Tip: Ensure you have checks and redundancy in regard to finance. 
  8. Specify how the bylaws can be amended. This typically involves a proposal, notice to members, and a vote.
  9. Dissolution. Include a section outlining the process for dissolving the organization if necessary. This may include the distribution of assets to the library or another nonprofit organization.
  10. Conflict of Interest. Address potential conflicts of interest and establish guidelines for handling situations where a member’s personal interests may conflict with the FOL group’s objectives.
  11. Non-Discrimination. Include a statement affirming the organization’s commitment to non-discrimination and inclusivity.
  12. Adherence to Library Policies: Specify that the FOL group will operate in accordance with the policies and guidelines set by the library.
  13. Communication. Outline communication channels within the organization and with the library.
  14. Liability Protection. Include language to protect officers and members from personal liability for the organization’s actions.  In addition, some Friends groups by Directors and Officers insurance. If your group decides to have insurance, the bylaws should include this.

It’s advisable to consult with legal counsel or seek guidance from relevant authorities to ensure that the bylaws comply with applicable laws and regulations. Additionally, involve members in the process of drafting and approving the bylaws to ensure a collective understanding and commitment to the organization’s structure and purpose.

Sample ByLaws