Membership Policy


The purpose of this policy is to outline the conditions, types, rights, and responsibilities of membership in the John Trigg Ester Library as a supplement to the sections on membership in the JTEL bylaws. Closely aligned with this policy is the JTEL Privacy Policy.

Policy Approval and Review

This policy shall be reviewed every three years by a special committee of members convened for the purpose. The committee shall include at least one board member and at least two library members who are not on the Board of Directors, and may additionally include the JTEL’s hired librarian (should there be one) as a nonvoting member. The Membership Policy will be approved, with any necessary revisions, by the board on or before the board meeting setting the agenda for the Annual Meeting. So that the board may have time to review any proposed changes, suggestions must be made on or before the September monthly board meeting.

Conditions for Membership

Membership in the John Trigg Ester Library is open to anyone, but the library’s primary focus is to serve the residents of Ester village and vicinity, defined as those living in the area roughly bounded by the Ester Fire Service District/Ester Census Designated Place.

Membership is $10 per year, due at the annual membership meeting (fall membership) and payable to JTEL.

Members must provide the following information to the JTEL:

  • Name (or organization name, if an associate member)
  • Mailing address
  • Phone number
  • E-mail (if applicable)
  • Website (for associate members, if applicable)

This information is used to contact the member with regard to annual meeting notification and notices concerning membership status, item checkout, or other topics specific to the individual member.

Members may, if they so choose, be placed on a general library e-mail list for event notification, or may sign up to receive notices via the blog at

The JTEL board Secretary has responsibility for maintaining the membership book. The membership book is kept at the JTEL business office. Corrections and updates to member information should be sent to or by contacting the Secretary.


The JTEL is a membership-driven organization. Membership is not transferable.

Information on member rights, meetings, and so forth is available in the JTEL Bylaws  (See specifically Article III: Members; Article IV: Meetings of Members; and Article IX: Corporate Records, Reports, and Seal).

Membership is $10 per year, and is open to any individual human being. Family memberships are not available.

Membership dues may be paid in advance; membership cards are available for 10 years, 25 years, or for lifetime (50 years or more, $250).

Membership benefits

Members in good standing may check out items, participate on committees, vote at the annual or special meetings, or run for a position on the board of directors. Members will receive a membership card indicating the length of their term of membership.

By belonging to the JTEL, members are supporting an institution of literacy, learning, culture, the arts, and intellectual freedom in the Ester community, and contributing to the wellbeing of their neighbors and themselves and their intellectual pursuits. Members are also supporting an all-ages community gathering place that is free from smoke and alcohol, giving an alternative to the other social centers of Ester. Members may request that titles be added to the collection, or make requests for reconsideration (see Collections Development Policy).

Member responsibilities

Member conduct

Members are expected to return items in a timely fashion, to exercise reasonable care of the items they check out, and to replace or reimburse the library for items damaged or lost while in their care. Members are expected to treat the library premises with reasonable care, to clean up after themselves when using the library, and to treat other library members and users with courtesy and decorum.

Member support

Unlike most libraries in the United States, the JTEL is not a government-sponsored library supported by tax dollars and public employees. The JTEL is a privately held library governed by its membership through a board of directors elected at the annual membership meeting. It is operated entirely by volunteers, and is supported through donations, membership fees, item sales (t-shirts, etc.), fundraisers, shelf dedications, and interest earned on its accounts.

Members are encouraged strongly to be actively engaged with the operation and maintenance of the library, and to participate in the three annual community events/fundraisers hosted by the JTEL as well as the annual meeting. Members interested in volunteering may serve on the Construction Committee, the Fundraising Committee, other committees, or more informally (such as at the library itself or at various events), or may run for a position on the board of directors.

Library use

The JTEL adheres to the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, which states:

The American Library Association affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that the following basic policies should guide their services.

I. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.

II. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.

III. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.

IV. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.

V. A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.

VI. Libraries that make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.

For more information on the Library Bill of Rights and the interpretations and corolaries to it, please see

Circulation & returns

Items at the JTEL may be checked out indefinitely, but the Board of Directors recommends that they be returned within 30 days, as a matter of courtesy, so that other members may have access to them. Items should not be checked out for longer than 6 months at a time.

Reference materials

Some materials are not available for check out, but may be perused on the library premises. These include but are not limited to periodicals, first edition or rare Alaska nonfiction titles, and certain encylopedic works.

Lost or damaged items

If an item is lost or damaged, the member who checked it out should first inform the librarians, and then buy a replacement of the title, or reimburse the JTEL for the value of the item so that the librarians can replace it if a duplicate is not already available. (This may not always be the same as the sticker price on the item.)

Interlibrary loan

The library shares an online catalog with Calypso Farm & Ecology Center Resource Library, and has a mutual loan agreement with Calypso. JTEL books may be returned at Calypso and vice versa.

Privacy policy

All personal information provided to the JTEL by members is confidential, and accessible only by the JTEL Board of Directors. Members may review their own information at any time by contacting the JTEL Secretary.

The JTEL operates in a low-tech environment, and does not keep checkout or return records, with the exception of the library cards associated with each item. After the item is returned, the borrower’s name is blacked out on the card.

From the ALA Library Bill of Rights interpretation on privacy:

Privacy is essential to the exercise of free speech, free thought, and free association. The courts have established a First Amendment right to receive information in a publicly funded library. Further, the courts have upheld the right to privacy based on the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution. Many states provide guarantees of privacy in their constitutions and statute law. Numerous decisions in case law have defined and extended rights to privacy.

In a library (physical or virtual), the right to privacy is the right to open inquiry without having the subject of one’s interest examined or scrutinized by others. Confidentiality exists when a library is in possession of personally identifiable information about users and keeps that information private on their behalf. …

Library affiliations

The JTEL is a member in good standing with the Alaska Library Association (, which is in turn a member of the American Library Association (

draft; updated 8/30/2013 dh; links updated 9/24/2016