Leadership Development

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In 2022, the PLA strategic plan was revised and approved by the PLA Board of Directors. The longstanding Leadership lever has evolved to Professional Growth, reflecting PLA’s belief that all library workers can and do lead within their organizations. PLA is committed to creating more opportunities that support a growing cohort of library leaders with diverse experiences and backgrounds over the course of their careers.

Stronger Together: Creating Space for Mutual Support

Stronger Together: Creating Space for Mutual SupportThe PLA Leadership Development Committee has embraced this charge. Starting in Fall 2023, we are pleased to offer a series of online networking conversations, “Stronger Together: Creating Space for Mutual Support,” hosted by members of the PLA Leadership Development Committee.

Library leaders at all levels are facing unprecedented challenges related to a variety of topics: intellectual freedom; equity, diversity, and inclusion; staffing challenges; community engagement; and, let’s face it, sometimes just maintaining your own motivation in a post-pandemic environment. People need time and space to refresh, energize, practice self-care, and feel seen and supported by their colleagues. Join these free, facilitated conversation to share and connect with colleagues in small online groups.

Below are the “Stronger Together: Creating Space for Mutual Support” topics and dates, with two or more dates being offered per topic. You may register for as many sessions as you’d like. Registration is free. Click a date/time below to register for that conversation.

Conversation Topics, Dates, and Times

  • Purposeful service* – maintaining your motivation: How do you sustain yourself through difficult times while still finding joy in your work?
    • Sept. 5, 2023, at 10:00 AM Central: For supervisors, managers, and administrators
    • Sept. 14, 2023, at 3:00 PM Central: For front line workers
    • Dec. 5, 2023, at 10:00 AM Central: For front line workers (repeat)
    • Dec. 14, 2023, at 3:00 PM Central: For supervisors, managers, and administrators (repeat)
  • Working through intellectual freedom challenges: How do you navigate upholding core library principles in a polarized environment?
    • Oct. 10, 2023, at 10:00 AM Central
    • Oct. 19, 2023, at 3:00 PM Central
  • Navigating community engagement: How do you engage, evolve, and respond to community needs?
    • Nov. 7, 2023, at 10:00 AM Central
    • Nov. 16, 2023, at 3:00 PM Central
  • Challenges faced by staff from historically marginalized groups: How do staff from historically marginalized groups find the support to grow and thrive in their careers?
    • Jan. 9, 2024, at 10:00 AM Central – SESSION FULL
    • Jan. 18, 2024, at 3:00 PM Central – SESSION FULL

*Please note: Purposeful Service is divided between front line workers and administrative staff. Facilitators will include PLA Board Members, current and former PLA Leadership Development Committee Members, and other PLA member-leaders.

By reframing to be more inclusive of library workers at every level, Professional Growth expands the possibilities laid out in the PLA Leadership Model.

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 model was developed by 21 select library leaders, with guidance from Dr. Adam Goodman, director of the Center for Leadership at Northwestern University, in 2018.

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.

Additional Continuing Education

Panel Discussions

Understanding the Role of Public Library DirectorsUnderstanding the Role of Public Library Directors
FREE on-demand panel discussion
Panelists: Doug Crane (moderator), Roberta R. Phillips, Mark Williams, Mary Ellen Icaza & Jessica Hudson

Public library directors fill a unique role in their organizations as leaders in both policy and culture. Whether it is a single building rural library to a multi-location big city system, all library directors face a series of similar problems as they strive to keep operations going. Between budgets, politics, policies, and staffing, no two days are the same. In this on-demand panel discussion, experienced directors will share their stories about why they chose this career path, its challenges, and their thoughts on the future of the profession. If you are interested in becoming a director, are already a director looking for some tips, or simply want to learn more about the role, this is the panel discussion for you. More…

Affecting Change in a Middle Management RoleAffecting Change in a Middle Management Role
FREE on-demand panel discussion
Panelists: Lynn Hoffman (co-moderator), Isaiah West (co-moderator), Andrea Dictor, Sarah La Torra, Lisa Lewis & Doris Mendez-DeMaio

Program coordinators, department heads, and other supervisors are the leadership of public libraries on the front lines, but they don't always have a seat at the table when administrators talk about change within the library. Attendees of this panel discussion will hear from public librarians representing libraries of varying sizes, geographic regions, and diverse populations who have affected change from their positions in middle management through effective communications, advocacy, and storytelling. More…

Re-Weaving the Culture through Inclusive Norms in the Public LibraryRe-Weaving the Culture through Inclusive Norms in the Public Library
FREE on-demand PLA panel discussion
Panelists: Derek Wolfgram (moderator), Chantel L. Walker, James Allen Davis Jr., Lalitha Nataraj & Sonia Falcón

The history of public libraries is deeply rooted in white supremacy, and white cultural norms still dominate management practices in public libraries today. In order to create more inclusive workplace cultures in public libraries, new norms must be established by creating decision-making processes and modes of communication that honor the cultural norms of BIPOC staff members. As libraries emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic with an increased awareness of racial inequities in the communities we serve, the time has also come to look inward at the ways our own management systems and structures perpetuate inequities among those who work in public libraries. By dismantling and re-weaving organizational culture norms to decenter whiteness, we can work together to create a better, more inclusive future. This panel discussion will provide background on white cultural norms in librarianship, illustrated by examples from the lived experience of the panelists. Attendees will develop a deeper understanding of the way that these norms marginalize, silence, and harm BIPOC library staff members. More…