Public Library Leaders

formerly the Public Library Leadership Fellows program

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For more information on the PLLeaders program visit:

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.

For more information on the PLLeaders program visit:


The full instructional schedule is provided after registration. The preliminary schedule is being established for 2021-2022:

  • September 2021 – program begins
  • May 2022 – Edmonton – site visit
  • January 2023 – Greater Toronto Area site visit and graduation at OLA Super Conference

Current Instructors

  • 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 CULC/CBUC CEOs are a regular part of the program

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

How to Apply

The PLLeaders program is designed for senior managers with a strong interest in pursuing Chief Executive and senior administrative positions in public libraries. Applicants should have the support of their current employer to participate in the program. The application submission must include:

  • 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.
Application Period: Apply by August 15, 2021.
Apply online: Registration Now Open

For more information on the PLLeaders program visit:

For more information about registering for the program please contact CULC/CBUC’s Executive Director Jefferson Gilbert. 416-699-1938 or