PLA Leadership Academy

PLA Leadership Academy logoNavigating Change • Building Community

The PLA Leadership Academy: Navigating Change · Building Community is a program developed in partnership with the International City and County Management Association (ICMA) and Adam Goodman, director of the Center for Leadership, Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill., with support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

This career-changing event for public librarians is designed to empower participants with the knowledge necessary to be innovative and successful leaders of change. It offers a groundbreaking focus on developing the skills needed to work with municipal officials to enhance the position of the library within the community and improve the effectiveness of library activities and programs.

The PLA Leadership Academy consists of:

An Immersive In-Person Event
The centerpiece of the PLA Leadership Academy is a dynamic in-person event, three and a half days of interactive education and colleague networking that will offer thought-provoking lectures and breakout discussions. Content will focus on:

  • Becoming an effective change agent;
  • Managing and sustaining “big picture” library projects;
  • Developing library programs aligned with key municipal goals; and
  • Understanding how nonprofit and commercial sectors can support each other

Evenings will feature engaging opportunities to connect with fellow attendees.

Unique City/County Management Perspective
The PLA Leadership Academy sets itself apart through partnership with ICMA to provide valuable education on the politics, power structure, and trends of city and county management.

Professional Coach Program
A corps of coaches has been chosen from among experienced public library leaders and city managers to participate in the workshop, providing professional insight and support with one coach for every four attendees.

Project-Based Engagement
Each attendee will be required to propose a project to later implement at his or her library. The projects should be designed to exemplify the academy curriculum, integrating library and city goals while influencing larger library initiatives, i.e. literacy, economic development, immigrant integration, etc.

Learning Outcomes

As a result of participating in the PLA Leadership Academy, applicants will:

  • Understand the nature of effective leadership in public libraries and the context in which that leadership will be needed in the coming years;
  • Build personal leadership awareness and effectiveness;
  • Understand the opportunities for and challenges of civic engagement, including skills for effective community partnerships;
  • Form a long term, sustainable mentoring network with colleagues and other experienced leaders; and
  • Know how to apply the above in the context of their particular library and community.


If you have any questions or comments, please contact Mary Hirsh, Deputy Director, Programs, at or 800-545-2433 ext. 5039. Want to be alerted when we begin accepting applications for the next PLA Leadership Academy? Please submit your name and e-mail address to be notified.

This project is supported in part by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.