About PLLeaders

To prepare and support the next generation of public library leaders in the 21st Century, PLLeaders (formerly Public Library Leadership Fellows Program) brings together compelling case studies, foundational leadership principles, the sharing and mentorship of exemplary leaders, recent research, and the close collaboration of a national cohort of peers. This partnership of the iSchool at the University of Toronto and the Canadian Urban Libraries Council / Conseil des Bibliothèques Urbaines du Canada(CULC/CBUC), offered successfully since 2012, is all about the future of Canada’s public libraries and the changing communities they serve. Graduates are awarded the Certificate in Public Library Leadership by the University of Toronto.

The 15-month program is designed to engage seasoned library managers who have the desire and potential for the highest levels of leadership in public libraries. It exposes them to  themes,  experiences, and relationships  to augment their preparedness. The Program combines frank (and confidential sessions) with senior library executives, an instructional program with key learning outcomes, individual mentorship, and group work with peer leaders from across the country.

PLLeaders remains a dynamic program, continually updated in response to participant feedback and the changing landscape. During the COVID-19 pandemic, PLLeaders was redesigned for a flexible combination of virtual and in-person participation that can be quickly adjusted as circumstances change. It remains a part-time program designed for managers in full-time roles.

Here is what library leaders are saying about PLLeaders:

“PLLeaders is one of our essential leadership programs at Oakville Public Library. As a graduate myself, I know the value this program brings in terms of both expanding participants knowledge of key library topics and providing direct access to industry leaders. Program participants are also afforded the opportunity to grow their own network which can have lifelong benefits.”

– Tara Wong, CEO, Oakville Public Library, and PLLeader Graduate

“The PLLeader program has been critical to strengthening the skills and knowledge of several members of our Management Team. The program has also enabled participants to expand their professional network nationally. The program provides a unique learning experience for library leaders.”

– Paul Takala, Chief Librarian / CEO, Hamilton Public Library

“Focus. Depth. Network building. Grounding. Confidence. Exploration. Challenge. Succession. This is why we send our leaders to PLLeaders, and they come back with much more.”

– Jeff Barber, Library Director & CEO, Regina Public Library

“The PLL program offers the right stuff to turn good leaders into great leaders. It provides the next generation of talented managers the exact balance of experience, knowledge and connections to make them successful in a world where libraries are changing rapidly. The chance to study and grow with peers across the country is invaluable. This type of real-world learning is effective and a unique opportunity.”

– Steve Kraft, CEO, Guelph Public Library

“Halifax Public Libraries is a proud supporter of the PLL program. Public library leadership is unique and often not a focus of MLIS programs; the PLL program engages rising leaders in Canadian urban libraries through a broad curriculum ranging from HR management to library governance, advocacy and finance, coupled with site visits, and open discussions with CEOs across the country The goal is to help build skills and confidence. Over the past decade, six leaders from Halifax Public Libraries have participate in this program, and Halifax has been fortunate to twice serve as a site visit host. It has been incredibly rewarding to see the impact of this program on participants and to hear and witness the camaraderie and growth within the cross-country cohorts. This is an excellent way to build the leaders who will move our organizations and the library sector forward in Canada, and a network they can rely on throughout their careers.”

– Åsa Kachan, Chief Librarian & CEO, Halifax Public Libraries

“The PLLF program teaches public library leaders succession planning techniques and equips them with the necessary tools to help ensure the vitality, relevance and growth of Canadian public libraries in the changing communities they serve.”

– Catherine Biss, CEO, Markham Public Library

Here are what Graduates say as reported in their feedback survey:

“Best thing I’ve ever done!”

“This program has changed the way I think. Just before the final instructional session I participated in a strategic planning session in my own organization and through the conversation one thought kept running through my mind…let’s think bigger. What else can we do? What other ideas can we come up with? In that moment I realized that I had made a fundamental shift in my thinking to ‘what if we…?’ without getting stuck in the ‘how will we…?’”

“I was not prepared for the generosity of the library leaders and CEOs who opened their organizations to our group and gave us insights into their journeys. The generosity and willingness of the CEOs to share exceeded my expectations. I loved seeing our group learn and grow over the months that we spent together in the program.”

“In meeting with CEOs and other public library leaders I’ve come away with a deeper appreciation of our profession and of the work that has been done, and is being done, to continue to position public libraries where they belong… in the centre of our communities. I’ve built friendships – professional and personal – that I will continue to nuture. And perhaps most importantly, I have learned a great deal about my own strengths and opportunities for growth.”

“The program exceeded my expectations in every way possible. I went into the program wanting to learn more about being a public library leader, and building on my existing skills. The program provided me with opportunities to learn about the public library landscape and key topics of importance to all leaders. The opportunity to meet other leaders from across the country and interact with senior leaders was amazing and such a privilege. ”