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.

In 2018 PLA released a new model for its Leadership and Professional Development Initiative. The model was developed by 21 select library leaders, with guidance from Dr. Adam Goodman, director of the Center for Leadership at Northwestern University. In alignment with the Association’s Strategic Goals of Transformation and Leadership, this model both advances public libraries’ shift from an organizational focus to a community focus and supports leadership that reflects the needs of the community. The PLA Leadership Model describes the work, methods, and core values of leadership in a public library context. It describes library leaders’ core areas of responsibility as Learning and Literacy, and Stewardship and Integrity. Under the model, library leaders are also encouraged to practice the paired values of Respect and Civility; Inclusion and Equity; Service and Privacy; and Information and Truth, while embracing a spirit of caring, integrity, and optimism. The model envisions these leaders helping individuals, neighborhoods and communities to thrive by making the library a trusted, helpful resource to all people.

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. Interested participants must apply by October 22, 2018.