PLLeaders – Now Accepting Applications

Public Library Leaders – Cohort 5

Now accepting applications.

Program will begin in September 2021 and run until January 2023

More information is available at

Ideal Candidate Profile

  • Nomination of employer (formal requirement)
  • CEO or executive-level aspirations
  • Core management knowledge and experience
  • Personal confidence and self-awareness
  • Ability to identify personal learning and mentoring needs
  • Ability to research and write on library issues
  • Commitment to confidentiality and frankness within the Program

Program Overview

The 15-month program includes 4 to 6 in-depth case studies with senior executive teams of major public libraries, 6 instructional sessions (total of four hours per session, in additional to readings and assignments) on key topics, and ongoing interaction with peers, leaders in host libraries, and mentoring.

Case studies: The case studies (successors to the former physical “site visits”) are hosted by major public libraries in Canada and the USA. Participants must attend at least four of the six (though they are encouraged to attend all if possible). These share the team’s specific initiatives in such areas as finance, organizational development, capital projects, and governance, with a focus on vision and leadership. The presentations and discussions are practical, frank, and confidential. Some case studies will be experienced digitally; others, depending on circumstances, may involve travel.

Instructional sessions: Each of the six instructional sessions must be completed by all participants. These half-day sessions draw on research and institutional experience. They are conducted by experts in the library sector. Pre- and post-session readings and assignments are part of the instructional program. There is a continuing emphasis on human resources. The sessions include:

  1. 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.
  2. Leadership based on personal strengths. Includes identification of unique personal strengths; principles for investing in other’s strengths; recruitment and development of effective teams.
  3. Issues in human resource development. Includes issues and trends in collective bargaining; selected legal and regulatory topics; issues in succession management.
  4. Governance and government relations. Includes recruitment and development of library boards; key relationships in municipal environments; government relations in provincial and federal jurisdictions.
  5. Issues in finance. Includes key issues in municipal operating and capital budgets; budget planning, preparation, communication, and negotiation; capital facilities planning.
  6. Partnerships, collaborations, and advocacy. Includes identification and development of key partnership opportunities to advance mission and equity; evidence-based advocacy.


Consideration of feedback from previous participants and the new virtual skills we have all developed over the last year, the PLLeaders Advisory Team have re-designed the program to significantly reduce the travel required by participants. This will reduce some of the time commitment and cost to participants in the fifth cohort.


  • Lita Barrie, CEO, Burlington Public Library
  • Christina de Castell, Chief Librarian & CEO, Vancouver Public Library
  • Åsa Kachan, Chief Librarian, Halifax Public Libraries
  • Wendy Newman, Senior Fellow (retired), Faculty of Information, University of Toronto
  • Rebecca Raven, Executive Director, Canadian Federation of Library Associations and former CEO, Brampton Library
  • Maureen Sawa, CEO, Greater Victoria Public Library
  • Panels of CEOs from libraries near site visits are also presenters from time to time


Program will begin in September 2021 and run until January 2023

By reducing the number of on-site visits and in-person meetings, the program can now break down instructional units into smaller segments and will meet regularly each month.

In-person library visits will be planned for:

  • May 2022 – Edmonton
  • January 2023 – Greater Toronto Area (and OLA Super Conference for graduation)

How to Apply

Apply by August 15, 2021

Fill out the application at:

You will need to submit:

  • Application form
  • Curriculum vitæ
  • Statement of intent: describe in 500 words or less what you hope to achieve in participating in this program. What past experiences have prepared you to be successful in this endeavour and what unique qualities will you bring to the program?
  • Letter of support: provide a letter of support from a senior administrator/board member of your institution. The letter should indicate a full understanding of the time and financial commitment, if any, your home library is willing to undertake on your behalf. Additionally, the letter should provide an endorsement of your eventual candidacy to move into the ranks of senior library administration.

Tuition Fee: The fee for the 5th cohort will be $1,995 (plus HST). Multiple payment plan options are available. Please feel free to contact Jefferson to discuss options.

⚠️ Safety is a top priority for Canadian public libraries. The CULC/CBUC Safety and Security Toolkit provides a menu of options to help manage and respond to security incidents more effectively. Visit to enhance your library's safety plan! 📚

Just released — OVERDUE: The Case for Canada’s Public Libraries is the product of three years of CUI’s engagement with Canada’s urban public libraries alongside @culc_cbuc.
Read the report at:

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