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 in a 22-member cohort.

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 current library leaders are saying about PLLeaders:

“The PLLF program was created to support the development of strategic senior library administrators who can better identify, understand and manage the issues that public library systems will face in the coming years. With the role of public libraries at a crossroads, the need for this type of professional development program is even more critical than ever.”

– Sandra Singh, former Chief Librarian,
Vancouver Public Library

“Finally, a program that offers the right balance of instructional learning, hands-on library experience, mentoring, and peer interaction. The PLLF program is worth the investment.”

– Wendy Newman, Senior Fellow,
Faculty of Information, University of Toronto

“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, Past Chair, Canadian Urban Libraries Council (CULC/CBUC)
CEO, Markham Public Library

Here is 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. ”