Leadership Development

Image of people exchanging ideas

PLA doesn’t just improve public library services; we build public library leaders. We empower public library professionals with the skills necessary to be innovative and successful leaders of change, shifting their libraries from an internal approach—focused on organizational operations—to an external approach—focused on community needs.

PLA offers leadership programming reflective of the PLA Leadership Model, and PLA strategic goals of Transformation and Leadership. The model was developed by library leaders, with guidance from Dr. Adam Goodman, director of the Center for Leadership at Northwestern University. Introduced in 2018, the model describes a leader’s work, how we lead, and core values in leading.

PLA Leadership Model

Library leaders work to:

  • Help Individuals, neighborhoods, and communities thrive
  • Become a trusted resource that allows everyone to have their voices heard and to contribute to a healthy and engaged society

To carry out this work, library leaders commit to:

  • Engaging all community stakeholders in contributing to the well-being of the community
  • Convening to allow meeting, learning, and knowing between community members
  • Sharing to communicate for a common understanding
  • Collaborating to work towards achieving common goals
  • Advocating to use the library’s trusted position to further community goals

This work is carried out with concern for:

  • Respect and civility
  • Inclusion and equity
  • Service and privacy
  • Information and truth

While never losing sight or the core responsibilities of:

  • Learning and literacy
  • Stewardship and integrity

The original PLA Leadership Model (2010–2018) was developed with support from an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) grant and in partnership with the International City/County Management Association. The current (2018) model was developed with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

PLA Leadership Academy

PLA Leadership Academy logoThe PLA Leadership Academy empowers public library professionals to become innovative and successful leaders of change, shifting their libraries from an internal approach—focused on organizational operations—to an external approach—focused on community needs. The centerpiece of the PLA Leadership Academy is a dynamic in-person event that includes four days of interactive education and networking. The next PLA Leadership Academy will be held March 25–29, 2019 in Chicago, IL. Want to be alerted when we begin accepting applications? Please submit your name and e-mail address to be notified.