A blog from the Southern Ontario Library Service

Introducing a Series on Competencies Based Professional Development

This is the first post in a series on competencies based professional development.

This past spring I attended the libraries 2025 symposium. It was a tantalizing look at the future and an opportunity to ponder some of the many opportunities public libraries might pursue. One of the most inspiring statements I heard that day was made by Julka Almquist, of the creative design firm IDEO; she boldly declared, “The future of libraries is librarians!”

I believe Julke is correct if we interpret her ‘librarians’ to mean, more broadly, the staff of public libraries, and I imagine that is what she meant.

Public libraries are on the precipice of a bright exciting future that requires staff to be community oriented, comfortable with technology, collaborative and agile. As well, the public has come to expect ever more innovative programs and services. If staff don’t adapt to these demands I fear a dismal future of diminished relevance and support. The training offerings of Southern Ontario Library Service can help libraries navigate these changes. The SOLS Competencies Index is the framework around which the training offerings are organized. The index exists to help public library staff develop the new knowledge skills and abilities necessary to be part of the bright, exciting future I mentioned. It helps individuals and library managers identify learning priorities and create learning paths to grow the necessary competencies.

This month SOLS is launching a blog series dedicated to helping library managers become familiar with the index and the many ways it can be used to build the capacity of library staff. The blog posts will draw on the experience of managers already using it to great effect. The posts will highlight the tools that have been developed to support users of the index. The comments feature that accompanies every blog post is a great opportunity to ask a question or tell us about your experience using the index.

We understand you are incredibly busy. We want to make it as easy as possible to use the index as a tool to grow the library’s human capital which also happens to be its biggest investment; public libraries in Ontario spend an average of 70% of their budget on salaries and wages! In some libraries it is much higher.

If you’re interested in applying competencies based staff development, we’ve created a short online tutorial to help you get started. Send us your feedback (or comment below) and let us know what we can do to make the index and online tutorial even more useful.