PLA Leadership Development

PLA is dedicated to empowering public librarians with the skills necessary to be innovative and successful leaders of change. Under guidance from the PLA Leadership Development Committee, the association offers leadership programming centered around the PLA Leadership Model, originally developed by Dr. Adam Goodman, director, Center for Leadership, Northwestern University and the 2009 PLA Leadership Task Force.

In developing the model, the team outlined the “new normal” for public libraries. This new normal highlights five forces that influence and have an impact on library strategy and services.

Force 1 The Nature and Change of Pace
Force 2 The Evolving Role of the Public Library
Force 3 Building Community
Force 4 Asset Driven Impact
Force 5 The Challenge for Leadership

PLA Leadership Model: Navigating 21st Century Libraries

The PLA Leadership Model address four spheres of leadership and offers insights to consider when developing leadership skills:

  1. Self: How does the individual assess personal strengths and become an agent?
    • Acting with integrity/self awareness
    • Developing individual coaching and mentoring networks
  2. Organization: How does a leader guide an organization through change and help the organization adapt to constant change as the new normal?
    • Discovering new ideas
    • Building vision
    • Operating strategically
    • Taking risks and seizing opportunities
  3. Community: How does the library help address community issues and goals, developing partnerships that build communities and the library’s role within the community?
    • Working with and through others
    • Building and leveraging relationships
    • Understanding and communicating from the customer’s perspective
    • Delivering impact and results based on a vision
  4. Cross-cutting abilities: How does an individual develop a skills portfolio to lead in each of the identified spheres, moving quickly and seamlessly among them as needed?
    • Anticipating and leading change
    • Recognizing and growing potential in others

PLA Leadership Academy

PLA Leadership Academy logoWith support from an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) planning grant and in partnership the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), PLA was able to share the PLA Leadership Model during the intensive four-day "PLA Leadership Academy: Navigating Change and Building Community," hosted in March of 2013. Some of the fellows contributed statements about putting the leadership education into practice back at their libraries and achieving some incredible things. We’ve selected a few to offer an idea of what’s possible when library professionals become leaders not only in their libraries, but also in their communities.

  • Martha Baden, Prescott (Ariz.) Public Library
  • Michael Beck, Scottsdale (Ariz.) Public Library
  • Toby Greenwalt, formerly Skokie (Ill.) Public Library, currently Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

UPDATE! This spring PLA was awarded a 2014 Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program Grant from IMLS to refine and implement the PLA Leadership Academy, again in partnership with ICMA. In addition to extending the Leadership Academy, the grant will allow PLA to conduct research to measure the impact of the program on participants and to convene a meeting of leadership training providers to share evaluation results and trade best practices.

PLA will host a PLA Leadership Academy in the spring of 2015. Stay tuned for official dates and application information.