Corporate governance: the British Library Board
The British Library Act 1972 places the British Library under the control and management of the British Library Board, the duty of which is to manage the Library as a national centre for reference, study and bibliographical and other information services, in relation both to scientific and technological matters and to the humanities. The Act also requires the Board to make the Library's services available to the public in particular to institutions of education and learning, other libraries and industry.
The Chairman and members of the Board are all appointed by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, with the exception of one member who is appointed by HM The Queen. One member of the Board is appointed after consultation with Scottish Ministers. All Ministerial appointments to the British Library Board are subject to the Code of Practice of the Commissioner for Public Appointments. Members are normally appointed for four-year terms, and appointments are restricted to two terms. Members conform to a Code of Practice for Members of the British Library Board derived from the Cabinet Office model Code. The Board Secretary ensures that new Board members receive appropriate induction training upon appointment. New members attend the National School of Government's Training for Board Members of Non-Departmental Public Bodies and also an induction programme covering all aspects of the Library's operations. Board members also receive regular updates on changes and developments in the Library and its operating environment.
There is a clear division of responsibility between the Chairman and the Chief Executive. The Chairman is responsible for the leadership of the Board, ensuring its effectiveness on all aspects of its role. He facilitates both the contribution of the Board members and constructive relations between the Board and the Executive. He represents the Library to its external stakeholders at the highest levels. The Chief Executive has responsibility for the overall organisation, management, and staffing of the Library, for the formulation of strategy, and for the successful delivery of results. As Accounting Officer she is responsible for its procedures and controls in financial and other matters.
Members of the Board have corporate responsibility for ensuring that the British Library complies with any statutory or administrative requirements for the use of public funds and ensuring that high standards of corporate governance are observed at all times. The Board establishes the overall strategic direction of the organisation. It approves the Library's annual Corporate Business Plan and its Annual Budget. It also oversees the delivery of planned results by monitoring performance against agreed strategic objectives and targets.
The Board meets five times during the year, and one of those meetings each year is substantially devoted to the development of strategy. Library Directors are normally present during Board meetings. Board members are provided with appropriate and timely information to enable them, to discharge their duties effectively. Board papers are distributed one week in advance of the relevant meeting to allow members fully to prepare for meetings.
The Board has delegated certain responsibilities to a number of committees. The standing committees of the Board are: the Board Audit Committee; the Remuneration Committee, the Construction Projects Committee, and, since March 2007, the Investment Committee. The minutes of the meetings of the Board Audit Committee, the Construction Projects Committee, and the Investment Committee are made available to all the Members of the Board on a timely basis. The terms of reference for the Board Committees are available on our website to download and view in PDF format (see PDF panel on the right).
A Register of Interests of Members of the Board is maintained and is reviewed by the Board Audit Committee. On specific issues where there may be a potential conflict of interest, Members are required to declare their interest and withdraw from the meeting. The register will be made available for inspection on application to the Secretary of the Board who can also provide copies on request.