New ALA report on library programming offers recommendations to the field

For Immediate Release
Fri, 09/10/2021


Hannah Arata

Communications Associate

Public Programs Office

American Library Association

CHICAGO – The American Library Association (ALA) issued a report, “Skills for 21st-Century Librarians: Learning Objectives for Library Programming,” marking ALA’s next steps toward the creation of a programming curriculum for library workers and students.

Through its Skills for 21st-Century Librarians project, ALA convened a task force of 12 leaders in libraries and library education to explore how library programming skills can be taught in library degree programs and professional development trainings.

Working with Knology, a social science research organization, the task force met virtually from January to June 2021. The result of their discussions are recommendations for learning objectives within nine core library programming competency areas: Organizational Skills, Knowledge of the Community, Interpersonal Skills, Event Planning, Creativity, Content Knowledge, Outreach and Marketing, Financial Skills and Evaluation.

The report proposes specific learning objectives within each competency area and offers resource recommendations based on suggestions from the library field collected during a public comment period in July and August 2021. The report also proposes next steps for the development of a programming curriculum. Read the final report.

Members of the task force include:

  • Tammy Baggett, director, Durham County Library, Durham, N.C.
  • Judy Bergeron, director, Smithville Public Library, Smithville, Texas
  • Nicole Cooke, Augusta Baker Endowed Chair and associate professor, University of South Carolina School of Library and Information Science
  • Cindy Fesemyer, principal, Fesemyer Consulting, LLC
  • Rolf Hapel, affiliate instructor, University of Washington Information School
  • Susan Hildreth, consultant, Susan Hildreth and Associates
  • Tamara King, community relations director, Richland Library, Columbia, S.C.
  • Emily Mross, business librarian and library outreach coordinator, Penn State Harrisburg Library, Middletown, Pa.
  • Deb Ripley, adult services librarian, Palos Verdes Library District, Palos Verdes, Calif.
  • Miguel Ruiz, supervising librarian, Evanston Public Library, Evanston, Ill.
  • Dale Savage, Library Development Bureau director, New Mexico State Library
  • Mimosa Shah, MS in LIS student at the University of Illinois, iSchool

The task force’s work builds on ALA’s National Impact of Library Public Programs Assessment (NILPPA), a research project to understand and document the characteristics, audiences, outcomes, and value of library public programming in the U.S. The recently announced second phase of NILPPA will develop a national standard for measuring and comparing the results of library programming.

Through their programming, libraries identify, address, and reflect community needs; enhance their institutional capacity and services; and contribute to our democratic society. Libraries are increasingly seen as players in not just access to learning materials but homes for community-building efforts as well. The role of the library is changing and growing, and programming librarians are on the front lines of that change.

However, library workers are not being adequately trained for the task, as described in the 2019 NILPPA Phase 1 white paper. Master’s-level library science programs rarely train the next generation of library professionals for the dynamic and vital work of creating and leading programs. Many library workers receive no formal program training at all; until now, informal and peer learning has been filling the gap.

Skills for 21st-Century Librarians: Task Force for the Development of a NILPPA- Informed Programming Librarian Curriculum is an initiative of ALA’s Public Programs Office. The project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services grant number RE-246421-OLS-20.

About the ALA Public Programs Office

The ALA Public Programs Office empowers libraries to create vibrant hubs of learning, conversation and connection in communities of all types. Learn more at

About Knology

Knology is a non-profit research organization that produces practical social science for a better world. The organization pursues this goal to help professionals in a variety of sectors build inclusive, informed, and cooperative societies that can thrive together with the natural systems on which we all depend. As a transdisciplinary collective of over 30 social scientists, writers, and educators, the organization's work process is built on equity, transparency, and deliberation.

About the American Library Association

The American Library Association (ALA) is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, the ALA has been the trusted voice for academic, public, school, government, and special libraries, advocating for the profession and the library’s role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visit