Yes, it is legal. Attorney General, Tim Fox, issued guidance on how to best meet the requirements of the open meeting law while using online meeting tools.
Please limit the number of meetings that you have and limit them to essential business only.
Please notice the meetings at least one week in advance and make action items clear. On agendas and public meeting notices please use the following language regarding public comment:
“The Public Library is committed to providing access to its proceedings in accordance with MCA Title 2, Ch. 3 Part 2 Open Meetings. All meetings of the Public Library Board will be streamed and recorded via an online meeting platform. The Public Library Board welcomes public comment. The Chair will ask for public comment on agenda items throughout the meeting from persons attending the meeting. Members of the public who wish to share written comment or pertinent visual materials must submit written public comment no later than 24 hours before the start of the public meetings. During public comment periods, speakers shall limit their address to the Public Library Board on agenda items to three (3) minutes, unless further time is granted by the Chair with the concurrence of the Library Board. The Chair reserves the right to limit public comments if comments are not germane to the proceedings or if they are deemed disruptive. All comments received, including those received through the online meeting platform, become part of the official public record of the Public Library Board proceedings in accordance with MCA 2-3-212.”
Please post your notices on your website, social media page, and/or wherever you normally post meeting announcements.
Attorneys are recommending that you post your materials on your website. If that is not possible, members of the public should be able to request the materials be sent to them via email or mail. The Montana State Library will assist you with making your materials available online if you do not have a website or an easy way to post the materials.
The Board Chair should request public comment as each agenda item is addressed. The Chair can also ask for public comment at the beginning and the end of the meeting. The Chair has the right to limit public comments if they are not germane to the proceedings. Public comment can be given via chat, email, or by voice.
It is acceptable to follow your normal practice for taking and posting meeting minutes. Most online meeting software has an option to record the meeting. You can use their cloud storage and share the link, or you can upload the recording to a site like Vimeo or YouTube. If you are uploading the recording online, please remember to create a transcript for those who are hearing impaired.
Yes, Montana State Library staff will host a board meeting for you. Here are the instructions for requesting meeting assistance.
To submit a request for a Zoom hosting:
1. Visit the MSL Help Desk link
2. For the DEPARTMENT DROP DOWN: Select “Library Program Resources”
3. For the CONTACT INFORMATION FIELD: Please enter in YOUR contact information and library name
4. For the SUBJECT FIELD: Please enter in some keywords regarding your meeting request (ex: Library Board Meeting Request, Book Club Meeting Request)
For the DESCRIPTION
FIELD: Enter in the meeting details (time, date, how many people), your library
consultant’s name, as well as any questions that you have.