Program Content

The 18-month program includes 4 to 6 in-depth sessions (site visits) with senior executive teams of major public libraries, 6 half-day instructional sessions on key topics, and ongoing interaction with peers, leaders in host libraries, and (at participants’ option) formal mentoring.

Site Visits

The site visits are hosted by five major public libraries in Canada and one in the USA. Participants must attend at least four of the six (though they are encouraged to attend all if possible). These 1.5 day visits share the team’s actual cases on finance, organizational development, capital projects, governance, and other major issues in public library leadership. The presentations and discussions are practical, frank, and confidential. Past Canadian sites have included Halifax, Edmonton, Toronto, Markham, Brampton, Vancouver, Surrey, Victoria, Hamilton, and Burlington. Past American site visits have included Chicago, Washington DC, and Cuyahoga County.

Instructional Sessions

Each of the six instructional sessions must be completed by all participants. These half-day courses draw on research and actual cases. They are conducted by acknowledged experts in the library sector. Pre- and post-session readings and assignments are part of the instructional program. The courses include:

  • Leadership in technology visioning, collaboration, and implementation. Includes environmental scanning; selected legal and regulatory issues in licensing and other contractual arrangements; technology in strategic planning; emerging service design issues; development of sectoral and other relevant collaborations.
  • Leadership based on personal strengths. Includes identification of unique personal strengths; principles for investing in other’s strengths; recruitment and development of effective teams.
  • Issues in human resource development. Includes issues and trends in collective bargaining; selected legal and regulatory topics; issues in succession management.
  • Governance and government relations. Includes recruitment and development of library boards; key relationships with municipal governments; government relations in provincial and federal jurisdictions.
  • Issues in finance. Includes key issues in municipal operating and capital budgets; budget planning, preparation, communication, and negotiation; capital facilities planning.
  • Partnerships, collaborations, and advocacy. Includes identification and development of key partnership opportunities within communities; strategic collaborations to advance mission and equity; evidence-based advocacy.
  • In addition to the formal program above, much emphasis is placed on interaction within the cohort and with the site visit hosts and instructors. Participants consistently rate these conversations and consultations as among the best features of PLLeaders. Past participants have even organized continuing education networks with their peers. Formal mentoring relationships can be arranged by the Program Director to suit participants’ needs and preferences.

    Through these program components, participants:

    • enhance their professional skills and base of experience;
    • review and discuss the major challenges and pressures facing public libraries;
    • create networks to further facilitate discussion of issues and current trends;
    • expand their understanding of the dynamics and politics associated with municipal and public service in leading North American public libraries;
    • identify research and innovation opportunities to support the future direction of public libraries; and
    • develop an understanding of the skills required to become a successful Chief Librarian/CEO and senior administrator of a public library.