PLLeaders is an executive leadership program designed by an Advisory Team and delivered by a partnership of the iSchool (Faculty of Information) at the University of Toronto and the Canadian Urban Libraries Council / Conseil des Bibliothèques Urbaines du Canada(CULC/CBUC). It is a key strategy to advance capacity building, knowledge transfer, and organizational resilience within this essential sector.

The National Summit on Library Human Resources, convened by the Canadian Library Association and its partner organizations in 2008, highlighted the need for national strategies to strengthen leadership development. An Advisory Team of CULC/CBUC and iSchool reviewed library leadership programs across North America and consulted with colleagues. They proposed a new national public library executive leadership program that would engage the knowledge and experience within the sector and the research community, draw on best practice in library leadership programs, and facilitate networking. A follow-up study on human resources in Canada’s large urban public libraries in 2020 confirmed the continuing priority on leadership formation and succession.

PLLeaders (initially called Public Library Leadership Fellows Program) began in 2012. As of mid-2021, four cohorts have completed the program A new cohort will begin in al 2021. In its short history, PLLeaders has achieved outstanding results. Many graduates have become chief executive officers of major libraries; other graduates have moved to more senior positions in their own or other libraries. All participants report significant personal and professional impacts. Systematic feedback – through detailed surveys of participants at mid- program and at program completion and an independent focus group of sponsoring library CEOs – confirms the importance and effectiveness of the program.

Advisory Team

  • Lita Barrie, CEO, Burlington Public Library *
  • Jefferson Gilbert, Executive Director, Canadian Urban Libraries Council (CULC/CBUC)
  • Lynne Howarth, Professor and former Dean, Faculty of Information, University of Toronto
  • Wendy Newman, Senior Fellow (retired), Faculty of Information, University of Toronto
  • Victoria Owen, Information Policy Scholar-Practitioner, 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
  • Susan Walters, Chief Librarian, Richmond Public Library *

* Graduates of PLLeaders