Appointing Interim Director to Permanent Status

Submission Date:


We are an association library that would like to appoint our interim director to the permanent position, but we are concerned: Do we have to have a search?  Are there any legal concerns with simply moving ahead and voting to give them the position?    


Here are the questions I would explore with an association library facing this situation:

  • Is the job description current?[1]
  • Do the bylaws prescribe a particular method of hiring?[2]
  • Does the library have a policy or employee handbook with an "internal promotion" or "search" policy?
  • Has the board announced any definitive intentions to use a search process?
  • Is there a conflict of interest?
  • Are there any current employees who may be interested in the job?
  • Does the library have a strategic plan or other initiative that clearly requires a broad search?[3]

If the answer to any of the above is "yes,"[4] it would be wise to consider a full search, or to work with a lawyer and get a written opinion before deciding not to. 

In addition to the above questions—which can all relate to legal factors—I would ask:

  • Is there a risk that the library's supporting community would regard not conducting a search as a problem?

What could lead a community to see a lack of search as problematic?  A search can be structured to draw input from the community.  It can be a time to drum up interest in the library.  It can be a way to signal to a community all the things the library agrees are important... like finding the best candidate.  So, the decision not to conduct a search could—if there is no evidence otherwise—lay the board open to criticism that it isn't fulfilling its responsibilities.

The decision to not conduct a search, however, doesn't have to mean that a board took the easy way out.  Rather, it can mean that the board has considered the work of the person filling in as an interim and has decided that that person's continued service in the role is in the best interests of the library.

How can an association library board who have decided they have found the right fit, without a search, let the community know the basis of their decision? By putting that basis in a resolution.

Here is a sample:

WHEREAS it is the responsibility of the board to employ a director of suitable qualifications and experience; and

WHEREAS NAME has been serving in the capacity of Interim Library Director since [DATE]; and

WHEREAS NAME's service as Interim Library Director has provided the Board with the opportunity to assess their suitability for the position; and

WHEREAS the Board believes NAME serving as Director would be in the best interests of the Library;

BE IT RESOLVED that that Library shall offer NAME the position of Director of the Library for an annual salary of AMOUNT, with at-will terms[5] and other such conditions, including start date, to be confirmed in a hire letter[6] to be drafted and signed by the President.




If the interim director's service has also brought specific achievements or noteworthy service (like getting a library through a pandemic shutdown), throw that in, too.

And that's it!  Just make sure it's documented that the decision is in the best interests of the library.


[1] This isn't itself a legal concern, but very often, an interim director is appointed on an emergency basis, and time is not taken to update the job description before or during the interim term.  So before giving an interim a job on a permanent basis, it's good to confirm the board is working from an accurate description of the job.

[2] I have never seen this, but since bylaws could include this, and I have not read the bylaws for all 346 association libraries in New York State, I need to include it.

[3] I won't mince words in a footnote; if there is a diversity in the workforce commitment, then a broad search may be merited, even if a current interim is doing a good job. 

[4] Except the job description bit.  But seriously: update the job description.

[5] Of course, rather than at-will, a board can offer an employment contract.  But that should be provided by the library's lawyer.

[6] There must be a new hire letter or a document confirming the start date and the salary, even if the person is already an employee.


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