The Illinois Open Meetings Act is a law that all boards must comply with but can lead to confusion. The law can change or a ruling by the Public Access Counselor (PAC) Office of the Illinois Attorney General may interpret an aspect in a new light. Some helpful resources to keep current on the law or to seek guidance from are the Illinois State Library, Illinois Attorney General and the Municipal Minute.
The Illinois State Library’s website has a link especially For Libraries. From that page click on Trustee Information. That page will have a link to the Open Meetings Act/Freedom of Information Act Training (Illinois Attorney General's Office) and Links to these two informative webinars: Introduction to the Freedom of Information Act Webinar and Introduction to the Open Meetings Act Webinar.
The Office of the Illinois Attorney General has a portal to the Open Meetings Act (OMA) for training and a description and the duties of the Public Access Counselor (PAC). The PAC is responsible for educational materials, advisory opinions, mediating disputes, requests for reviews, binding opinions and electronic training. The PAC knows the OMA better than anyone else and has the power to make binding decisions. A library board or a director can seek advice from the PAC.
Kwame Raoul is the new Attorney General and the page seems to be undergoing some changes. The position of PAC is an appointed one. The person currently holding the office is Sarah Pratt, Public Access Counselor (1-877-299-3642 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Municipal Minute is an online newsletter produced by Ancel Glink law firm to which anyone can subscribe. The homepage lists the major topics covered. The Open Meetings Act has a library of several articles to be perused. Three recent articles particularly stand out, the PAC Binding Opinions for 2018, Two Final PAC Binding Opinions for 2018 and 15 Minute Limit on Public Comment Violated OMA. An excellent podcast on Sunshine Laws (including OMA, FOIA, etc.) entitled Quorum Forum Sunshine Laws is available.
These three resources, the Illinois State Library, Illinois Attorney General and the PAC, and the Municipal Minute along with your library’s attorney are great resources to draw on before you make a mistake. Utilize them before your library faces bad press or legal action.