May 2012, Volume 4, Issue 5
Check Your Calendars!!
Choose Privacy Week
Children's Book Week
SDLA 2012: Branch Out
ALA 2012 Annual Conference & Exhibition
South Dakota Festival of Books
Featured e-Resources of the Month
New tools to dig for your roots and grow your family tree
New Law affects South Dakota Public Libraries
By Daria Bossman, Assistant State Librarian for Development Services
We have a new law, HB1131, in South Dakota which was passed and signed into law this past legislative session. It involves an expansion and clarification of our current open meeting laws.
I assume everyone is familiar with our South Dakota open meeting laws. If you would like to read more about these laws and specific situations (for example: when an executive session can be called), the State Library distributes a nice little brochure published by the South Dakota Newspaper Association. Just give them or us a call, and we will mail you one. This brochure is also available online at atg.sd.gov.
Simply stated, the open meeting laws apply to all public bodies (including public libraries) that exercise “sovereign power derived from state statute.” This most certainly includes local public library board meetings which by statute must meet quarterly, four times a year. [SD Codified Law: 14-2-40 (5)]. A legal quorum of the public body must be present and notice of this meeting must be given 24 hours in advance of the meeting. Now we have a law which states specifically where this notification must be posted.
Here is the new law:
ENTITLED, An Act to revise certain provisions relating to the posting of public notice for meetings of public bodies.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF SOUTH DAKOTA:
Section 1. That § 1-25-1.1 be amended to read as follows:
1-25-1.1. All public bodies shall provide public notice, with proposed agenda, that is visible, readable, and accessible for at least an entire twenty-four hours before any meeting, by posting a copy of the notice, visible to the public, at the principal office of the public body holding the meeting. The notice shall also be posted on the public body's website upon dissemination of the notice, if such a website exists. For special or rescheduled meetings, the information in the notice shall be delivered in person, by mail, by email, or by telephone, to members of the local news media who have requested notice. For special or rescheduled meetings, all public bodies shall also comply with the public notice provisions of this section for regular meetings to the extent that circumstances permit. A violation of this section is a Class 2 misdemeanor.
Practically speaking, the notice and the agenda MUST be posted in an exterior window or door where it can be read conveniently and easily 24 hours before the meeting anytime during the day or night. If a public library has a website or a blog, they must ALSO post this notice 24 hours before the meeting on this electronic site. No either/or situation. Both notices are now legally required.
As a board member, I urge you to become very familiar with these laws and follow them consistently and conscientiously. The president of the library board may want to assign one trustee to act as the group’s parliamentarian. This person can also be responsible for knowing the details of these laws as well as offering instruction to the rest of the board. The president of the board is responsible for seeing to it that these notices are typed and posted in a timely manner on an exterior door or window of the public library. The door of city hall or on a bulletin board at city hall is another excellent place to post your meeting notice.
We want local folks to be involved and come to the meetings. It is their public library, their public board and their taxes which provide for these vital local services. You represent them, and they have a right to evaluate how well you are administering your publically appointed responsibilities and fiscally managing their public funds. Open communication and involvement is another great way to recruit for future board membership and gain “library friends” for future projects as well!