COMPETENCIES FOR
PUBLIC LIBRARY STAFF

MANAGEMENT & LEADERSHIP

The library CEO and managers exercise control, coordination and leadership over the work of the organization. They also create the conditions that enable a creative and collaborative work environment. This skill set captures management and leadership at various levels of responsibility and is intended for library CEOs, managers, and supervisors.

Competition for public money within any given community makes it important for library CEOs to not only be ethical and responsible stewards of library finances, but also active communicators about the value and impact of library services.  

Due to variances in funding sources and practices, which are developed locally, these competencies are more general than specific.  

Last updated: July 24, 2014

Competency: Understands and employs basic budget and finance concepts and terminology

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:      

  • Understands and utilizes established accounting practices and procedures
  • Understands and applies municipal, provincial and federal financial laws, regulations, policies and procedures 
  • Liaises with municipal staff as required when preparing for and developing the library budget and in acquiring and understanding monthly/quarterly financial statements
  • Develops, presents and defends the library budget in conjunction with the library board
  • Monitors budget variances, reports them and takes necessary measures to minimize their impact on the overall budget  
  • Works with the library board to develop board members’ understanding of the library finances, including the budget process and regular tracking of expenses in relation to the budget. 

Competency: Establishes strategic financial management processes, using sound business and financial judgment

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:      

  • Monitors economic trends and other fiscal issues for potential impact on the library
  • Aligns the budget with the library’s strategic plan
  • Conducts short-, medium- and long-range fiscal planning
  • Conducts financial analysis to identify costs, risks and alternatives, including cost-reduction and value enhancements
  • Monitors the progress of contracts for library materials and services
  • Promotes and justifies the library’s needs to funding authorities
  • Assesses needs and develops plans for capital improvement projects, involving municipal staff as appropriate.

Competency:  Pursues multiple sources of funding 

  • Identifies sources for grant funding and writes compelling proposals/applications that supports the library's strategic directions
  • Develops policies, in conjunction with the library board, that clarify the board's position and approach with regards to grants, sponsorships, fundraising and revenue generation
  • Assesses revenue generating trends and practices of other public libraries and adopts those deemed appropriate and aligned with the library's mission, vision, and strategic directions
  • Ensures resources are in place to support the funding development activities endorsed by the board.  

Competency:  Manages the budget of a service, department or project

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:      

  • Understands and adheres to the library’s procedures for financial tracking
  • Monitors expenses against budget and can account for variances
  • Adjusts expenses as needed to stay within budget
  • Predicts expenses for the coming year based on a good understanding of the library’s financial situation, changes in services or operations and new demands for service.

In an era of tight public money and increased demand for services, there is a growing need to diversify funding sources beyond municipal and provincial government contributions.  Some public libraries are hiring staff with fundraising experience and expertise to coordinate funding development programs.  In other cases, the library CEO and board engage in funding development activities in collaboration with volunteers such as Friends of the Library groups, library foundations and fundraising committees. 

Last updated: July 24, 2014

Competency:  Demonstrates expertise in different types of fundraising methods and corresponding processes

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:      

  • Identifies grant sources for funding and writes compelling grant applications/proposals that support the library's strategic directions
  • Pursues appropriate corporate partnerships
  • Knows how to develop and implement a successful direct mail campaign
  • Identifies and qualifies potential gifts and donors
  • Understands the role of major gift and planned giving campaigns and uses them appropriately 
  • Plans special events that are aligned with the library’s mission and strategic plan
  • Ensures appropriate meaningful recognition of donations and sponsorships
  • Stewards relationships with donors to strengthen their levels of support. 

Competency: Manages a fundraising program that generates revenue for library projects

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:      

  • Involves the library’s management/leadership and library board in establishing fundraising goals that support the library’s strategic directions
  • Designs a program to achieve the fundraising goals, selecting suitable fundraising methods and strategies
  • Takes the lead role on prospect research, identification, cultivation and solicitation strategies
  • Implements the fundraising program, managing campaigns and special events
  • Designs and executes a marketing and communication strategy to support the fundraising program
  • Engages media to increase community awareness of the program and the library’s needs 
  • Acts as primary representative of the library handling all donation or sponsorship inquiries
  • Evaluates the plan in terms of revenue generated and whether targets were met
  • Ensures thorough stewardship, including tax receipts, follow-through on the gift implementation, administration of the funds and related expenditures.

Competency:  Cultivates a healthy working relationship with the Friends of the Library, Library Foundation and/or Fundraising Committee

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:      

  • Works with the Friends/ Foundation/ Fundraising Committee members to develop clear documentation that clarifies roles, responsibilities and relationship between the Library and the Friends or Foundation
  • Uses the agreements in the group’s documentation to resolve misunderstandings as they arise and create win-win solutions
  • Recognizes the value of the contribution made by the Friends/ Foundation or Fundraising Committee 
  • Develops and commits to regular two–way communication with the Friends/ Foundation/ Fundraising Committee
  • Inspires the Friends/ Foundation/ Fundraising Committee to believe in the library’s mission and work hard on behalf of the library
  • Engages the Friends/Foundation/ Committee members in shaping and, subsequently, endorsing the library’s vision and strategic directions
  • Informs the Friends/Foundation/ Fundraising Committee of suitable grants and funding opportunities
  • Recognizes, publicly and personally, the contribution of the Friends, Foundation or Fundraising Committee.

Well written policies and procedures, based on a sound understanding of applicable legislation, help all levels of staff to be consistent in their responses to situations and in their relationships with users, colleagues and other stakeholders.

Last updated: July 25, 2014

Competency: Understands, applies and explains applicable laws

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:      

  • Understands and applies provincial and federal laws that pertain directly to libraries and to public entities in general
  • Understands and applies provincial and federal laws that pertain directly to workplaces such as libraries
  • Maintains awareness of current policy and legislative initiatives that may impact library services and administration.

Competency: Develops policies and procedures to guide efficient and effective library operations

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:      

  • Applies a thorough understanding of library user needs and the library’s mission in developing and reviewing policies and procedures
  • Develops and updates policies in collaboration with management, the library board,  the municipality, regional government, and organizations such as provincial agencies and associations, as appropriate
  • Understands liability and legal issues pertaining to developing and adhering to policy and procedures
  • Explains the rationale underlying legislation affecting library service, policies and procedures
  • Seeks staff and user feedback during policies and procedures development
  • Understands the relationship between library policies and customer service and seeks to alleviate policy barriers to good service
  • Continuously evaluates the need for new or revised policies and procedures.

Competency:  Creates policies and practices to ensure safety and security

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:      

  • Creates and regularly evaluates emergency response policies and procedures; prepares staff to respond appropriately
  • Maintains up-to-date policies/procedures for staff communication and crises communication
  • Creates and regularly evaluates disaster preparedness and recovery plans for library resources and equipment
  • Understands and monitors measures for workplace accident prevention.

The remaining three competencies are in keeping with the preceding, but at a lower level of responsibiity:

Competency:  Enforces the library’s policies and procedures in the supervision of public service

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:      

  • Understands and enforces the library’s policies and procedures, using personal judgment and flexible responses when called for
  • Explains the rationale underlying library policies and can relate them to legislation where it exists
  • Regularly reviews emergency response policies and procedures and prepares staff to respond appropriately.  

Competency:  Demonstrates a general understanding of key legislation that impacts the supervision of public library service

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:      

  • Develops an awareness of the key pieces of legislation related to the supervision of public library service in Ontario
  • Applies legislation reliably for common/usual public service situations
  • Knows when to seek advice and when to communicate with management. 

Competency:  Contributes to policy development

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:      

  • Understands the relationship between library policies and customer service
  • Seeks to remove barriers to customer satisfaction where feasible
  • Reports to management policies and procedures that are challenging and problematic
  • Presents recommendations for changes to policies and procedures based on customer feedback and experience. 

It is crucial that the public library CEO has a solid understanding of the framework for public library service in Ontario.  He or she needs to know that in Ontario, public libraries are mandated provincially and funded largely by municipalities, with some provincial funding.  The successful CEO also works to understand who the key players are in the Ontario public library community, in terms of influential individuals and organizations.     

Last updated: July 21, 2014

Competency:  Understands the framework for public library service in Ontario

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:      

  • Complies with the legislative requirements of the Public Libraries Act, the Corporations Act, and the Municipal Act, 2001
  • Understands the governance of public libraries in Ontario and the roles and responsibilities of municipalities, library boards, and the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport
  • Completes the Annual Survey of Public Libraries and fulfills all other requirements to receive funding from the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, including the Public Libraries Operating Grant (PLOG) and special grants as they arise
  • Utilizes the services of Southern Ontario Library Service or Ontario Library Service North and participates in their planning and feedback processes when invited to do so
  • Demonstrates familiarity with province-wide systems and networks for interlibrary loan and collective purchasing and licensing.

Competency:  Identifies and builds relationships with key players in Ontario’s public library sector

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:      

  • Cultivates relationships with individual Ministry staff and knows who to contact regarding a variety of issues
  • Cultivates relationships with individual SOLS/ OLS-North staff and knows who to contact regarding a variety of issues 
  • Cultivates relationships with individuals in other public library organizations, eg. Ontario Library Association (OLA), Ontario Public Library Association (OPLA), Federation of Ontario Public Libraries (FOPL), etc.  
  • Raises the library’s visibility in the province by getting involved in provincial initiatives
  • Cultivates relationships with peers in neighbouring and similar libraries
  • Develops an awareness of Ontario’s innovative libraries and influential leaders, as well as those beyond Ontario.  

Effective governance of a public library depends on a CEO who understands the importance of helping the board work well together to fulfill its obligations to the community.  The CEO needs to navigate the complexities of being both an employee and a leader when it comes to working with the board.  While not responsible for governance, the CEO needs to understand governance issues and be able to orient, educate and support the board as needed. 

Last updated: July 21, 2014

Competency:  Cultivates a healthy, mutually empowering relationship with the Library Board

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • Understands the roles and responsibilities of the Library Board and the library CEO
  • Respects the Library Board as the legal employer and the legitimate authority and decision-making body on all governance issues
  • Understands the principles of good governance
  • Facilitates the regular flow of communication between the CEO, the board and the municipality
  • Helps board members get to know each other and get to know the library
  • Provides the board with the information it needs to do its job well
  • Helps the board stay focused on board work
  • Cultivates the board’s passion for the library’s mission  
  • Develops a respectful and trusting partnership with the board chair. 

Competency:  Structures and supports the Board’s work

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:      

  • Provides leadership to the board in setting its annual objectives and collaborates with the Board chair to develop monthly agendas based on the annual objectives
  • Guides the Board in developing, reviewing and updating policies
  • Guides the board in strategic planning and in articulating mission and vision      
  • Leads the budget process in conjunction with the Board chair and models accountability through the regular provision of clearly presented financial information
  • Provides timely and pertinent information to support the Board’s decision-making
  • Motivates the Board to advocate for the library in the community and with Council
  • Motivates the Board to cultivate good working relationships with the municipality and other community organizations.

Competency:  Facilitates board effectiveness through orientation, education and succession planning

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:      

  • Practices strategic recruitment of new Board members
  • Encourages the outgoing board to leave a legacy document for the new board;
  • Works with the outgoing board and municipal officials to achieve a smooth transition prior to and during the appointment of a new board
  • Plans for board orientation and ongoing library board development in key areas of governance and in current library issues
  • Engages the board in discussions of library issues as they arise
  • Encourages trustees to attend meetings, workshops and conferences relevant to public libraries and/or governance.

While the Public Libraries Act makes public library boards independent corporations, the reality is that library boards are entirely dependent upon their municipality for funding.  This paradox makes the governance and management of public libraries complex, requiring diplomacy, collaboration skills and political savvy on the part of the CEO and the library board.  A respectful, collaborative relationship with the municipality is crucial to the success of the library.  

Last updated: July 21, 2014

Competency: Cultivates a good working relationship with municipal staff

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:   

Understands the municipal environment and municipal priorities

  • Understands the municipal environment and municipal priorities
  • Understands the roles and responsibilities of the Library CEO and the municipal administration, especially in terms of library funding
  • Positions the library as a valued community service that contributes to municipal priorities and community well-being
  • Works to develop mutual respect and trust, and a desire to work together
  • Recognizes how the library can support the work of the municipality and offers the library’s help where feasible
  • Asks questions and shows genuine interest in municipal issues
  • Maintains ongoing communication about the library’s planning process and evolving goals and needs.

Competency: Cultivates a presence and relationship with municipal council

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:      

  • Understands the roles and responsibilities of the library board and municipal council, especially in terms of library funding
  • Guides the board to build a collaborative relationship with municipal council
  • Facilitates regular communication between the library board and council
  • Works closely with council representatives on the library board to ensure good two-way communication
  • Invites Council to participate in library events and opportunities to better understand the ways in which the library makes a difference
  • Links the library to the keen interests of individual councillors where feasible  
  • Presents to Council good news stories, highlighting community outcomes and expresses gratitude to Council for library successes.

Competency:  Seeks to expand and deepen municipal leaders' awareness and understanding of the public library 

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • Speaks of library use in terms of community outcomes
  • Tells stories that illustrate the library's capacity to change lives
  • Positions the library as a community leader and partner, ready to participate in community initiatives  
  • Ensures the library is on the radar of municipal council and municipal staff by advocating the library's capacity to contribute to community resilience and well-being 
  • Shares local and provincial library news and trends as they arise
  • Particpates in the muncipality's strategic and master planning processes, ensuring the library's future needs are understood 
  • Integrates the library into municipal structures and processes in those instances where it meets the needs of the library and the municipality, especially when efficiencies and/or expertise are gained. 

Public libraries need leaders who know how to inspire excellence while empowering and developing staff at every level of the organization.  They create the conditions for organizational success by motivating staff to bring their best selves to work each and every day.  Effective leaders are committed to big and small changes that improve library service.   

Last updated: December 12, 2014

Competency: Provides vision and strategic direction to library staff, board members and the community

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:      

  • Understands the social, political and economic context in which the library exists
  • Articulates the mission, vision and values of the library
  • Aligns the library with, and is supportive of, the strategic directions of the municipality and the needs of the community
  • Defines and communicates the library’s goals and objectives aligned with the library’s mission and vision
  • Evaluates and strives to ensure the library’s mission, vision, value statements and strategic plan remain relevant; recommends revisions as necessary
  • Drives innovative change that advances the mission and vision of the library   
  • Models accountability for quality and timeliness of work and reliability in achieving excellent results.

Competency:  Provides effective leadership of staff

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:      

  • Keeps current with new approaches to leadership and teamwork and applies that knowledge to motivate staff and help achieve organizational goals and objectives 
  • Builds trust and trusting relationships with staff at every level of the organization 
  • Establishes open communication avenues and procedures to inform and keep informed of issues as they arise; responds to issues appropriately and in a timely manner 
  • Recognizes the strengths of individual staff and motivates staff to strive for excellence and mastery 
  • Delegates decision-making authority and task allocation appropriately to maximize the effectiveness of organizational and individual efforts.   

Competency: Contributes to effective decision making regarding library services and resources

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • Creates an environment in which everyone contributes their best thinking to making decisions that advance library service
  • Uses conversation to gather information and multiple perspectives prior to and during decision making
  • Understands the library’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges
  • Recommends adopting, modifying or eliminating services, based on the best available evidence
  • Prepares for and responds to the decision making demands of crises and unanticipated events.

Competency: Manages meetings to optimize information sharing and decision making

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • Organizes an agenda and manages time accordingly
  • Fosters differences of opinions and experiences for rich discussion
  • Facilitates consensus decision-making
  • Allocates and monitors time appropriately to ensure achievement of meeting outcomes
  • Practices collaborative approaches to resolving conflicts.

Competency:  Designs and facilitates effective and participative group processes

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • Designs a process that enables a group to achieve a particular outcome
  • Creates an environment of participation and equal regard for every voice 
  • Manages the group and intervenes as necessary to ensure equal participation and integrity of process 
  • Utilizes conflict to expand the discussion in pursuit of the best solution 
  • Conveys both compassion and authority when managing group behaviours 
  • Encourages consensus decision-making and group ownership of outcomes.  

Competency: Applies change management strategies to assure effective implementation of change and acceptance by all stakeholders

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • Contributes to a culture of resilience and change readiness 
  • Remains open to new ideas, keeps current on trends and issues, seeks and sponsors innovations
  • Recognizes the benefits of change and understands the principles, processes and responsibilities for managing organizational change
  • Involves appropriate parties in planning, implementing and evaluating change
  • Prepares staff, Library Board, users and other stakeholders for change by communicating relentlessly in order to raise awareness, listen to concerns, ensure understanding and build commitment and buy-in
  • Anticipates change-resistant behaviour (fear, conflict, negativity, complacency) and works to reduce resistance through active listening, understanding and creative problem-solving.

Productive performance by library staff is the backbone of a successful library.  The strategic oversight of the library’s workforce, generally referred to as Human Resources (HR), is key to achieving the library’s mission and vision.

Last updated: July 22, 2015

Competency: Understands and applies legal standards and requirements for personnel/ HR management

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:      

  • Understands and complies with employment laws and regulations that impact HR management
  • Understands and ensures compliance with HR policies and procedures
  • Promotes effective labour relations and maintains a productive working relationship with employees and their representatives
  • Understands contract negotiation and administration
  • Understands a variety of problem-solving techniques and applies them to dispute resolution.

Competency: Develops HR policies that support a healthy work environment and comply with employment laws and regulations

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • Creates a comprehensive set of HR policies that guide employer/employee relationships and responsibilities, define working conditions, and address a wide range of issues regarding personnel management
  • Incorporates understanding of a unionized workplace and collective agreement as appropriate
  • Consults with municipal HR personnel and policies in developing and revising policies 
  • Stays current with changes to employment laws and other legislation impacting Ontario workplaces, eg. Access for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, etc. 
  • Revises HR policies as necessary.  

Competency: Establishes and maintains a fair compensation program

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:      

  • Complies with Pay Equity legislation that seeks to address historical inequities and achieve equal pay for work of equal value
  • Strives to achieve internal equity by assessing all positions using the job evaluation factors, including those not covered by pay equity legislation
  • Maintains pay equity through regular job evaluation reviews and salary adjustments as indicated by the reviews
  • Reviews salaries and benefits periodically in terms of job market conditions to ensure the library can competitively recruit and retain qualified individuals; makes recommendations to the Board based on the review findings.  

Competency:  Builds a productive workforce through effective recruitment and selection

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • Develops and applies consistent and effective interviewing techniques
  • Seeks candidates who demonstrate strong interpersonal skills, collaborative approaches, critical thinking skills and problem-solving abilities
  • Makes hiring decisions based on sound evaluation methods
  • Understands and complies with employment laws and regulations that impact recruiting and hiring
  • Understands and complies with library policies and procedures that impact recruiting and hiring
  • Values a diverse workforce and recruits for diversity.

Competency:  Engages in Human Resources planning to ensure the library has the staff capacity to meet the demands of the future  

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:      

  • Conducts a staffing review periodically, analyzing staffing levels, as well as particular skills and abilities  
  • Scans the environment for social, economic, and technological trends that impact the skills and abilities needed by library staff   
  • Develops a plan to address needed skills and abilities, as identified in the staffing review and environmental scan, through recruitment, grooming, and training and development strategies
  • Secures the funding to support Human Resources planning
  • Establishes a process to address succession in the event that individuals in critical positions leave or move into other positions.

Competency: Creates an organizational structure that enables a culture of teamwork and exemplary service

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:      

  • Explores various options for creating a structure that divides and coordinates the work of all staff
  • Consults with staff in the pursuit of the structure that will enable them to do their best work
  • Design the structure that optimizes communication and facilitates working together to achieve the library’s mission and vision
  • Revisit the library’s organizational structure periodically and revise to eliminate or reduce barriers to strong performance and/or achieving the library’s strategic priorities. 

Competency:  Empowers and supports staff to deliver effective, high-quality library service

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:     

  • Fosters and facilitates a collaborative environment based on a shared vision
  • Supports individual and collective learning as key to organizational success 
  • Models enthusiasm and commitment and energizes staff to meet defined goals
  • Communicates clearly and regularly with staff about library, government or major community changes that may affect them
  • Promotes teamwork among staff and promotes team-building practices
  • Ensures that diversity needs are respected and supported in HR processes         
  • Recognizes staff achievements through formal and informal methods.

Competency: Engages staff in coaching conversations

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:      

  • Provides individualized support to staff, recognizing that the needs of individuals vary
  • Engages individuals in one-on-one conversations that encourage growth and development
  • Listens and responds to the need for further clarity, direction and guidance
  • Encourages staff members to take responsibility for their own success.

Competency: Establishes effective strategies for performance management

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • Establishes and follows clear processes for new employee orientation
  • Establishes clear performance expectations linked to the library’s strategies and priorities, with appropriate levels of quantity and quality of work defined
  • Involves staff in clarifying performance expectations and identifying the supports necessary to meet those expectations 
  • Provides appropriate tools, resources and authority to support performance expectations
  • Establishes methods for review and evaluation of performance and holds all staff accountable to meet performance expectations
  • Enables staff to strive for continuously higher standards of performance
  • Provides regular and constructive feedback on performance
  • Takes timely and consistent corrective/disciplinary action when appropriate.

Competency: Engages volunteers productively

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:   

  • Creates opportunities for volunteers to support and enhance library operations
  • Articulates the need for volunteers as distinct from staff and defines clear roles and job descriptions for volunteer positions
  • Develops and applies consistent practices for recruiting and screening volunteers
  • Provides welcoming, supportive orientation, effective training, supervision and coaching of volunteers
  • Recognizes volunteers formally and informally for their contribution to library service.  
The remaining competency is in keeping with the preceding but at a lower level of responsibility, eg. at the supervisory level, as opposed to management level. 

Competency:  Demonstrates a general understanding of key legislation that impacts the supervision of public library staff

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • Shows an awareness of the key pieces of legislation related to the supervision of people in Ontario
  • Applies legislation reliably for common/usual workplace situations
  • Understands and complies with the library's HR/personnel policies
  • Understands and complies with the collective agreement in a unionized environment. 

While a manager or supervisor may or may not provide direct public service, she or he, nonetheless, plays a key role in modeling, demanding, supporting, enabling and recognizing exemplary customer service.  The consistent delivery of excellent service is fundamental to library success and needs to be an organizational priority.  Interactions with users require trust and respect and focus on the needs of the individual.  It is just as important to delivery quality customer service to online users as to those inside the library building.  

Last updated: July 22, 2015

Competency:  Manages the library environment to enhance the user experience

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:      

  • Organizes the library’s collections and work areas to appeal to users and to meet their needs
  • Organizes physical elements in the library to create a positive and welcoming environment
  • Addresses the physical and/or mental barriers that could prevent people from using the library successfully
  • Provides quality customer service to virtual users, ensuring that customer service principles are applied to online interactions.

Competency:  Contributes effectively to the development and evaluation of standards and practices for the delivery of quality service     

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:      

  • Anticipates and maintains awareness of users’ needs and wants through regular, informal interactions, observations, user surveys, complaint logs and other means
  • Analyzes input from users, evaluates the effectiveness of current services, and implements service improvements and adjustments to practices and procedures as necessary 
  • Uses effective training strategies to teach staff good customer service skills and techniques 
  • Works with staff to create measurable service standards and best practices based on users’ needs and expectations.

Competency:  Applies and models customer service skills to enhance the level of user satisfaction

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:      

  • Treats users in a  welcoming, professional manner and provides other staff with a model of positive customer service
  • Listens effectively to understand and address the particular needs of the individual library user 
  • Acts as a goodwill ambassador for the library, promoting the library’s values and services  in all interactions with library users and in the community 
  • Demonstrates thorough knowledge of all aspects of the organization that impact users (mission and vision, policies and procedures, collections and services, and system-wide strategies)
  • Recognizes, honours and responds appropriately to all forms of diversity.

Competency:  Applies effective techniques to address difficult situations with users

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:      

  • Encourages library users to follow library policies; applies good judgment when deviating from official policies and procedures
  • Maintains a calm, professional manner in difficult situations and applies effective communication techniques
  • Acts quickly to meet customer's concerns in the moment, if possible 
  • Follows up and gets back to customer when necessary, engaging him or her in communication and resolution leading to satisfaction
  • Takes online concerns and complaints seriously and addresses them as thoroughly as any other complaint. 

A coherent strategic plan that aligns the library’s goals and directions with community needs and municipal priorities will help the library develop and deliver successful programs and services.  Operational planning in the areas of collection development, technology, facilities and staffing ensure that all activities and resources are aligned with the organizational goals as outlined in the strategic plan. 

Last updated: July 21, 2014

Competency: Designs and implements an ongoing planning process for the library

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • Understands the strategic planning process and shepherds the development of a strategic plan that articulates a vision of success and establishes strategic directions to achieve the vision
  • Analyses and investigates the needs of the community to anticipate and predict future needs
  • Scans the environment continuously and has the capacity to consider the implications of emerging trends and influences on the community and the library  
  • Checks for alignment with municipal council’s vision and priorities
  • Communicate's the library's needs to municipal staff, especially with regards to future facilities requirements 
  • Actively involves the community and stakeholder groups in developing and refining the plan
  • Promotes the plan’s value to the community
  • Promotes and implements the mission statement, goals, objectives and activities that reflect analysis of community needs
  • Ensures that long-term goals and objectives align with daily decisions and operations.

Competency:  Develops and implements operational plans based on the library’s strategic plan

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • Creates an operational plan for one or more aspects of library service that is aligned with the library’s strategic plan
  • Consults with staff and other stakeholders in creating a plan that provides focus, operationalizes the strategic directions and improves library service
  • Assigns timelines and responsibility for designated tasks
  • Develops measures to evaluate progress in achieving the tasks set out in the operational plan. 

Competency:  Performs ongoing evaluation to gauge the success of the strategic plan

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • Develops and applies appropriate methods to continually measure progress on achieving the strategic directions identified in the strategic plan
  • Modifies the strategic plan and redesigns processes as needed in response to ongoing analysis of community needs
  • Communicates to management, the board, staff and community on progress in meeting the strategic priorities
  • Involves community stakeholders in the evaluation of library services
  • Monitors progress of operational plans and provides follow-up and accountability measures.

Competency:  Contributes to the planning efforts of the municipality and other community organizations

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • Transfers experience with developing the library’s strategic plans to the planning process of other groups
  • Gains greater understanding of strategic planning through participating in the planning process of other groups
  • Shares information and ideas about community characteristics, challenges and opportunities; participates in generating increased understanding about the community 
  • Develops a thorough understanding of the strategic directions and community development initiatives of other agencies and organizations. 

The multiplicity of factors involved in managing any library project demands an organized approach. Basic project management skills help establish a framework and process for coordinating people, time, money and deliverables. Effective project managers recognize that communication is essential throughout the project life cycle.  

Last updated: July 29, 2014

Competency:  Employs sound project management principles and procedures in the planning and implementation of programs and services

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • Understands the basic principles and procedures of project management
  • Defines outcomes and expectations based on user requirements and needs
  • Secures support for projects that implement library goals and objectives
  • Utilises technology tools to increase project management efficiency
  • Uses resources efficiently and manages effectively within budget limits.

Competency:  Leads project team with clear direction and effective communication

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • Selects team members strategically to build a diverse set of skills and abilities
  • Aligns project with the vision and direction of the organization 
  • Collaborates with project team to develop a work plan with tasks, time frames, milestones, resources and realistic deadlines
  • Delegates effectively to achieve results
  • Anticipates potential problems, sets controls and contingency plans, and responds effectively to resolve barriers
  • Demonstrates flexibility, creativity and patience as needed throughout the life cycle of the project.  
  • Communicates with management and other stakeholders regarding progress and obstacles to achieving project success. 

Competency: Manages meetings to optimize information sharing and decision making

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • Organizes an agenda and manages time accordingly
  • Fosters differences of opinions and experiences for rich discussion
  • Facilitates consensus decision making
  • Allocates and monitors time appropriately to ensure achievement of meeting outcomes 
  • Practises collaborative approaches to resolving conflicts.

Competency: Monitors and evaluates projects and uses the results for project improvement

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:     

  • Establishes processes for collecting, documenting and reporting data
  • Monitors project progress and evaluates performance to ensure quality and quantity standards are met
  • Fulfils legal or project requirements for compliance, record keeping and reporting
  • Analyses and identifies dissemination strategies, and reports project data and outcomes to stakeholders
  • Leads project team in a de-briefing aimed at learning what went well and what could have been better 
  • Learns from project failures and partial successes, and shares learning with colleagues.

It is imperative that supervisors and managers gain a working knowledge of the work of the people and services they supervise.  While it is not necessary to be able to perform everyone’s job, it is important to understand each job in order to be able to assess and support work performance.  Supervisors and managers play an important role in bridging the work of front line staff and organizational decision-making.   

Last updated: July 29, 2014

Competency:  Understands the operations of the service or department

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:      

  • Understands the core purpose of the department or service and how it fits with the vision and direction of the library 
  • Demonstrates general knowledge of the processes and systems used in providing the service/ conducting the work of the department
  • Understands and explains adherence to the policies and procedures particular to the service/ department
  • Aligns service/ department efforts with library’s overall goals and the needs of the community.

Competency:  Manages the efficiency and effectiveness of the service or department

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • Ensures the service/ department is fulfilling its purpose
  • Establishes and monitors procedures that guide the work
  • Manages own and others’ time effectively to deliver work on time, prioritising as necessary
  • Cultivates a creative climate where new ideas are welcome and staff is encouraged to suggest improvements to how things are done
  • Contributes to a problem solving environment and works towards creative solutions that improve library service
  • Ensures the resources and supports are in place that enable staff success.  

Competency:  Connects the work of the service or department with the organization's decision-making processes

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • Articulates the mission, vision, values and strategic directions in ways that are relevant and meaningful to staff 
  • Communicates to management the need for resources to further the work of the service or department
  • Involves staff in providing management with useful feedback to inform decision-making and planning
  • Involves staff in suggesting revisions to the mission, vision and/or strategic directions based on the needs of the community. 

Helping community members develop 21st century skills requires staff with 21st century skills of their own.  Creating a strong organizational culture that fosters learning and innovation requires board and management support.  Continuous staff development is essential for libraries striving to successfully navigate their changing landscape.  

Last updated: July 21, 2014

Competency:  Establishes strategies, initiatives and resources to sustain a learning environment that is pervasive throughout the library

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:     

  • Promotes the importance of continuing staff development and provides appropriate opportunities
  • Understands how continuous learning for library staff relates to the provision of quality library service
  • Cultivates a culture that enables both formal and informal learning processes in the workplace and encourages continuous self-directed learning 
  • Creates opportunities for experiential and project-based learning; encourages experimentation, tinkering and play as learning methods 
  • Finds ways to make learning together and from one another fun and engaging 
  • Promotes a performance-based culture that aligns learning goals and objectives with desired outcomes
  • Fosters staff growth and opportunity through mentoring, coaching, shadowing and experimenting. 

Competency: Plans for and supports staff development

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • Assesses staff skills using competencies and other methods to identify training needs
  • Identifies training needs based on internal and external changes that impact the library
  • Works with management to secure the funding necessary to offer training opportunities to staff
  • Enables informal learning through conversation, modeling and spontaneous training sessions
  • Works with staff to create individualized development plans to gain necessary competencies (knowledge, skills, and abilities)
  • Identifies learning opportunities that foster 21st century skills, such as problem-solving, critical and creative thinking, communication and innovation
  • Creates opportunities to review and reinforce learning
  • Evaluates learning initiatives and outcomes.

Competency:  Develops and implements appropriate training strategies for staff

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • Understands and applies knowledge of adult learning theory
  • Designs training activities to meet the needs of targeted audiences and to support specific results
  • Develops and implements training solutions that focus on the learner and accommodate different learning styles
  • Understands the variety of instructional methods available, including e-learning and blended learning
  • Understands and applies instructional design concepts
  • Manages the learning environment for optimal participant experience and value.

Competency: Develops effective methods to evaluate learning initiatives

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • Involves each employee in the development, pursuit and assessment of his or her own learning goals
  • Communicates the expectation for self-directed learning in setting and reaching learning goals 
  • Determines measures of success for all training strategies
  • Employs multiple evaluation techniques
  • Develops processes to evaluate transfer of learning to the workplace and achievement of targeted competencies
  • Provides time and procedures to review and reinforce learning.

The growing significance of the library as place underscores the importance of access, atmosphere, usability and safety in the library’s physical environment.  As physical collections shift to increased digitization of resources, libraries are creatively seizing opportunities to rethink the use of their physical space.  Facilities are being modified to reflect and serve the learning, collaboration and creation needs of community residents.  

Last updated: July 14, 2014

Competency:  Creates a welcoming and user-friendly physical environment that encourages all community members to use library services

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • Understands the impact of the physical elements in the library on user satisfaction and emotional response
  • Understands space planning issues, including the application of  accessibility requirements to the physical space as they relate to the building, furnishings and equipment  
  • Works with staff to remove barriers to service and create spaces that work for a variety of library uses; provides users with comfortable paths and clear signage to navigate the building and services
  • Monitors the use of facilities and makes changes to improve the user’s experience.

Competency:  Plans library spaces that facilitate community engagement and collaboration

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:  

  • Incorporates principles of public space and fosters community gathering, collaboration and content creation in and outside the library
  • Designs flexible and multi-use spaces to accommodate a variety of programs and services
  • Provides for the technology and other materials required to aid content creation and collaboration 
  • Plans exhibits, displays and activities that encourage people to interact with one another
  • Engages the community in space planning and design processes.   

Competency:  Creates and maintains a healthy and safe environment for library users and staff

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • Understands the scope of building operations and addresses maintenance issues with pro-active inspections and a schedule of upkeep measures
  • Complies with building codes, fire safety regulations, and any other legislative requirements
  • Addresses safety issues through appropriate maintenance and adequate information provided to staff in compliance with health and safety legislation
  • Recognizes an unsafe situation when it arises and takes action to remedy it
  • Continuously evaluates operational practises to increase efficiency, minimise waste and comply with environmental guidelines; works to ensure library operations respect, protect and sustain the natural environment.   

Competency:  Builds successful physical spaces

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • Understands emerging trends in library design
  • Plans for new or updated facilities to meet current and future community needs by balancing people space with collections and technology
  • Understands the facilities needs assessment  process including space requirements
  • Builds and effectively communicates the case for the library’s needs to the board, municipality, building committee, media, community leaders and the public
  • Understands the roles and responsibilities of the CEO, board and architect in the design and construction or renovation of a library
  • Plays a leadership role in ensuring the library gets a facility that meets and exceeds its space requirements and enables it to be a successful library as place.

Traditionally, community relations work has been about raising the profile of the library in the community so that more people understand the ways in which the library benefits the community.  While this remains crucial work, leaders in the library sector have come to understand that community relations is also about engagement and relationship building, with individuals, groups and organizations. The public library can be positioned as a community leader, playing an active role in collaborative efforts to improve community resilience and well-being.   

Last updated: August 13, 2015

Competency:  Documents library use in terms of community impact and value

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:      

  • Uses appropriate business and management approaches to communicate the library’s value to decision makers
  • Understands data collection, research and analysis methods
  • Identifies sources and tools for gathering the best available data (both quantitative and qualitative), including systems to manage library data and generate reports
  • Performs outcome-based evaluations to measure the effect of library programs and service on the community
  • Follows emerging trends on new ways of measuring social and economic impact in the public library and not-for-profit sectors.

Competency: Builds community-wide support for the library, using a variety of methods

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • Communicates the library’s value in community outcome measures that make clear the library’s contribution to the community
  • Delivers clear and coherent messages to targeted audiences employing a variety of communication vehicles - in print, in person and online
  • Raises the library’s visibility by having a library presence at community events, and participating in community initiatives 
  • Seeks public speaking opportunities as a means of educating the community about the library, promoting programs and services, and highlighting key community outcomes that address community challenges and priorities
  • Leverages the community to build additional support at the local,  provincial and national levels, both for ongoing library services and special one-time campaigns
  • Leverages partnerships and participation in organizations to promote library initiatives
  • Cultivates relationships with media representatives, community leaders and decision makers.

Competency: Engages the community in conversation

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • Understands and uses conversation as the best way of getting to know the community and helping the community get to know the library
  • Engages individuals, groups and community organizations in conversations that help shape the library and help ensure that the library is meeting the community's evolving needs
  • Uses a variety of vehicles for conversation, including one-on-one, key informant interviews, neighbourhood/ community events, library programs and events, and social media.

Competency: Uses social media effectively for interaction and engagement

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • Uses a variety of social media technologies to tell the library's story and raise the library's profile in the community
  • Creates a familiar online persona that is personable and approachable
  • Develops a social media strategy that coordinates online communications and conversations, while also allowing for spontaneous responses to emerging opportunities
  • Follows trends in customer/community interaction platforms and experiments with new ones
  • Knows how to get noticed online and implements strategies to do so
  • Engages the public in dialogue about the library and the community
  • Solicits input and feedback from the public in a variety of ways
  • Generates interest in the library, its programs and services.

Competency: Understands and supports community resilience and well-being

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:     

  • Takes every opportunity to champion a strong and healthy community
  • Helps library staff and board understand the library's role in supporting a strong and healthy community; models community engagement and leadership
  • Advocates equal opportunity and offers the library as a vehicle for equal opportunity
  • Supports community development initiatives and looks for ways the library might help
  • Understands community issues and challenges
  • Supports the community’s aspirations for the future
  • Contributes to community vitality by celebrating local arts and culture, participating in local events and supporting the local economy. 

Competency: Forms strategic partnerships with community organizations

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • Identifies potential partners and opportunities to partner, and articulates the mutual advantages of partnership
  • Develops and leverages collaborative relationships to facilitate the accomplishment of the library’s goals and broader community goals
  • Provides leadership to build effective relationships and coordinate efforts between internal and external stakeholders
  • Sustains partner relationships for future opportunities
  • Develops the library’s reputation as a community leader and key community collaborator.

Public libraries increasingly rely on marketing to publicise programs and services and counter perceptions of irrelevance.  Effective marketing can overcome misconceptions, raise awareness and attract new audiences. Increasingly, marketing efforts do not come from a single department; they need to be organization-wide.  

Last updated: July 21, 2014

Competency:  Employs a variety of marketing and promotional tactics to raise awareness of the library and its programs and services  

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • Acts as an ambassador for the library in every interaction
  • Creates posters and handouts for programs and events
  • Develops print and online newsletters, designed for target audiences
  • Designs and creates displays
  • Liaises with community partners to raise awareness of the library and offer library support for community initiatives 
  • Organizes open houses and tours.  

Competency:  Understands and applies marketing theory and practices

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • Understands the basic principles of marketing and how they apply to library services
  • Conducts research to assess marketing landscape and to determine current position among similar organizations/ businesses 
  • Uses multiple formats and channels to communicate with library users, potential users and other stakeholders
  • Stays current with communication tools and media sources used by target audiences 
  • Understands the library's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges
  • Conducts periodic reviews of the community for opportunities to align community needs with library services
  • Identifies, analyses and prioritizes target markets and audiences, and determines how best to promote those library services that can effectively serve each target audience. 

Competency:  Develops, implements and evaluates an ongoing marketing plan for the library

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • Engages in ongoing dialogue with target audiences, including users, potential users and library staff
  • Sets measurable marketing goals and objectives, including brand strategy, based on the library board’s key messages
  • Creates graphics standards, style guide, and consistent print and electronic visual communication standards
  • Develops consistent promotion and distribution strategies to meet the marketing goals and objectives based on the analysis of target audiences
  • Creates relevant communication policies and procedures in collaboration with administration and with other departments 
  • Provides marketing training (how to talk to media, how to promote services, etc.) for library staff as appropriate
  • Implements the marketing strategies, maintaining records and clear communication with staff and stakeholders
  • Evaluates the effectiveness of the strategies and revises as necessary.

Contact Us

For questions about the compentencies index, please contact Anne Marie Madziak, Service Development Director