The PLLeaders program is an executive leadership program designed by an Advisory Team and delivered by a partnership of the iSchool (Faculty of Information) at the University of Toronto and  the Canadian Urban Libraries Council / Conseil des Bibliothèques Urbaines du Canada (CULC/CBUC).

The National Summit on Library Human Resources, convened by the Canadian Library Association and its partner organizations in 2008, highlighted the need for national strategies to strengthen leadership development. Drawing on the success of Northern Exposure to Leadership and the data on library work force demographics, Summit participants recognized the urgency and importance of mid-career leadership programs. It was noted that the majority of public library CEOs and senior administrators would be eligible to retire soon. An Advisory Team of CULC/CBUC and iSchool reviewed library leadership programs across North America and consulted with colleagues. They proposed a new national public library executive leadership program that would engage the knowledge and experience within the sector and the research community, draw on best practice in library leadership programs, and facilitate networking.

PLLeaders (initially called Public Library Leadership Fellows Program) began in 2012. As of mid-2018, three cohorts have completed the 18-month program and were awarded the Certificate in Public Library Leadership by the University of Toronto. A new cohort will begin in October 2018. In its short history, PLLeaders has achieved outstanding results. Many graduates have become chief executive officers of major libraries; other graduates have moved to more senior positions in their own or other libraries. All participants report significant personal and professional impact. Systematic feedback – through detailed surveys of participants and an independent focus group of sponsoring library CEOs – confirms the importance and effectiveness of the program.

Advisory Team

  • Lita Barrie, CEO, Burlington Public Library *
  • Glenn Cummings, CAO, Faculty of Information, University of Toronto
  • Jefferson Gilbert, Executive Director, Canadian Urban Libraries Council (CULC/CBUC)
  • Lynne Howarth, Professor and former Dean, Faculty of Information, University of Toronto
  • Wendy Newman, Senior Fellow (retired),  Faculty of Information, University of Toronto
  • Rebecca Raven, CEO, Brampton Library *
  • Ken Roberts, consultant and former CEO, Hamilton Public Library
  • Maureen Sawa, CEO, Greater Victoria Public Library
  • Susan Walters, Chief Librarian, Richmond Public Library *

* Graduates of PLLeaders