Program Content

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:

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

In addition to the formal program above, much emphasis is placed on interaction within the cohort and with the participating library hosts and instructors. Participants consistently rate these conversations and consultations as among the best features of PLLeaders. Past participants have maintained networks with their peers. Formal mentoring relationships will be arranged by the Program Director to suit participants’ needs and preferences.

Through these program components, participants:

  • enhance their professional skills and base of experience;
  • review and discuss the major challenges and pressures facing public libraries;
  • create networks to further facilitate discussion of issues and current trends;
  • expand their understanding of the dynamics and politics associated with municipal and public service in leading North American public libraries;
  • identify research and innovation opportunities to support the future direction of public libraries; and
  • develop an understanding of the skills required to become a successful Chief Librarian/CEO and senior administrator of a public library.