Open Meetings and Open Records

Open Meetings and Open Records

W. Charles Smithson, Executive Director, Iowa Public Information Board

The Iowa Public Information Board, created in 2012, is charged with enforcing the open meetings and open records laws as defined by Chapters 21, 22, and 23 of the Iowa Code. Because public libraries in particular may be called upon to host an open meeting or retain records of governmental bodies, this session was very practical in focus and shaped by questions generated by the audience. Conversation covered such foundational issues as what constitutes a “meeting,” how to ensure appropriate public notice, and circumstance under which meetings can and cannot go into closed session. Smithson lent his expertise to discuss how the requirements for open meetings and records apply to formats such as email communication or video conferencing. In conclusion, Smithson emphasized that the goal of the Iowa Information Board is to educate Iowa communities in order to reduce complaints over open meetings and records and to support public institutions such as libraries when conflicts arise.

Smithson is also a contributing author to the book "Money, Politics, and Campaign Finance Reform Law in the States” and an adjunct faculty member at Drake law School.

Reported by Beth McMahon