COMPETENCIES FOR
PUBLIC LIBRARY STAFF

PERSONAL/INTERPERSONAL

These core competencies are foundational and worth developing for everyone who works in a public library. Regardless of one’s job, overall effectiveness is greatly enhanced by clear communications, strong relationships, ethical behavior and the flexibility to be a leader, team player and lifelong learner.

Communication competencies are integral to the library’s commitment to exemplary customer service.  Clear and effective communication is the basis for success in cultivating strong working relations with co-workers, managers, users and all stakeholders.

Last updated: November 27, 2014

Competency: Practises conversation as a valuable means of exploring ideas and making sense together.

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • Shows equal regard for every voice in the conversation
  • Values multiple perspectives and differences of opinion as openings to new aspects of the truth
  • Actively conveys attention, respect, and curiosity
  • Contributes to the conversation, speaking, listening and making connections 
  • Uses questions to delve into, open up, explore and connect the full diversity of thinking
  • Shares responsibility for the quality of the conversation and the achievement of expected outcomes. 

Competency: Communicates effectively using a variety of methods

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • Communicates openly and directly, both verbally and in writing
  • Identifies issues and ideas and provides information that is accurate and timely
  • Presents ideas in a manner that is clear and concise, with an appropriate level of enthusiasm
  • Checks with listeners to ensure message has been received as intended and comprehended
  • Demonstrates proficient writing skills (good grammar and sentence construction, accurate spelling, logical thought)
  • Demonstrates the technical skills and protocols for communicating electronically.

Competency: Communicates effectively with a variety of audiences and individuals from diverse backgrounds

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • Speaks and writes in ways that are professional, welcoming and appropriate for different audiences
  • Demonstrates proficient public-speaking skills (articulation, strong delivery, appropriate animation)
  • Accommodates and deals effectively with the perceptions, perspectives and communication styles of different audiences
  • Fosters an inclusive, affirming and respectful climate for communication.

Competency: Selects and applies the most appropriate and effective communication skills to meet situational needs

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • Communicates effectively to elicit information and to obtain consensus, persuade, instruct and/or motivate
  • Understands and practises techniques of active listening and open-ended questioning
  • Selects appropriate communication strategies to manage conflict constructively
  • Demonstrates negotiation skills to secure beneficial outcomes.

Anyone working in a public library, in any capacity, must interact productively and collaboratively in order to accomplish individual and organizational goals. Mastering interpersonal competencies is a worthy goal for any library employee.

Last updated: July 4, 2014

Competency: Develops and maintains healthy relationships with others to achieve common goals

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:     

  • Possesses self knowledge and awareness of one’s own behaviour in group situations
  • Treats everyone with camaraderie, honesty, respect and fairness, building an environment of trust
  • Contributes to a collaborative, committed and collegial work environment
  • Understands and embraces individual and organizational diversity
  • Values differences of opinion and listens with openness and curiosity
  • Acknowledges own strengths and contributions, and recognizes the complementary strengths and contributions of others
  • Recognizes the need for improvement, both in self and others
  • Shares knowledge gained through professional discussions, conferences, formal courses and informal channels with colleagues, customers and stakeholders
  • Gives and receives constructive feedback.

Competency: Works collaboratively in teams or groups

 Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:      

  • Contributes constructively to the achievement of the team’s goals and objectives
  • Assumes shared responsibility for collaborative work, and values the individual contributions made by each team member
  • Contributes to a creative problem-solving environment and works toward mutually acceptable solutions, regardless of position or level
  • Participates actively in information-gathering and decision-making in order to promote the best interests of the team and the library 
  • Manages own and, as appropriate, others’ time effectively to deliver work on time
  • Finds opportunities to help others develop new ideas and achieve their full potential
  • Gives and receives coaching and/or mentoring to/from team members as appropriate.

Competency: Demonstrates an aptitude for collective problem solving 

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:      

  • Generates shared responsibility for problem solving and engages multiple perspectives
  • Demonstrates familiarity with a problem solving process/framework
  • Gathers information from a variety of sources
  • Engages people in both creative and critical thinking
  • Contributes best thinking to deciding on the right course of action based on the information available
  • Debriefs and learns from successful and unsuccessful decisions and implementations.

Competency: Practises informal leadership

 Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • Influences others in a positive way, generating buy-in and enthusiasm for organizational mission and vision
  • Encourages others to get involved and engage in organizational initiatives
  • Helps others be successful and contributes to overall library success
  • Considers new ideas/new ways of doing things
  • Asks probing questions in order to understand and build on others’ ideas
  • Champions innovation and improvements to service
  • Models excellence by engaging in desired behaviours and service standards
  • Provides visible support for others during times of stress or crisis  
  • Steps forward to lead as needed and as appropriate.

Competency: Employs effective strategies to manage organizational politics, conflict and difficult co-worker behaviours

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:      

  • Understands that organizations (including libraries) are inherently political and develops strategies to become an effective player
  • Understands a variety of difficult behaviour patterns and develops responses appropriate to each
  • Routinely examines own behaviour, accepts accountability for own actions and adjusts appropriately
  • Practises patience and tact in defusing volatile situations and striving for agreement as necessary
  • Understands and applies strategies for conflict resolution.

In order to be successful, individuals working in public libraries need to be avid lifelong learners, committed to continuous improvement and self-directed training and development.

Last updated: August 13, 2014

Competency: Pursues a commitment to self-directed learning

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • Practises ongoing self-improvement in response to self-awareness and feedback from others
  • Identifies as a lifelong learner and assumes responsibility for one's own learning 
  • Develops one's learning capacity by honing critical and creative thinking skills
  • Asks questions to expand one's understanding and knowledge 
  • Seeks exposure to new ideas, both within and beyond the library field, and stretches beyond one’s comfort zone.

Competency: Manages the ongoing development of competencies and the advancement of one's career  

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:      

  • Actively pursues personal and professional growth through continuing education, including formal and informal training opportunities in a variety of formats
  • Pursues new information and ideas in order to stay current
  • Develops strategies for keeping up with new technologies 
  • Identifies learning needs and creates a learning path to achieve them 
  • Formulates a career plan that guides ongoing learning and development choices 
  • Recognizes the value of professional networking and actively participates in learning communities and/or professional associations
  • Seeks opportunities to apply new knowledge and to share experiences, research and best practices with colleagues.

Competency: Anticipates and adapts to change with a sense of optimism and opportunity

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:       

  • Develops the flexibility to accept change and the resilience to adapt with curiosity and enthusiasm
  • Welcomes change as an opportunity to build a better future together 
  • Adapts to varied roles, responsibilities and circumstances 
  • Works to achieve excellence in service amidst a climate of ambiguity
  • Anticipates future trends and recommends changes in priority or direction that are aligned with organizational goals and service demands
  • Explores and adopts new technologies for their potential to deliver new ideas, products and services
  • Proposes pilot projects as a way of experimenting with change
  • Keeps a positive attitude in the face of challenges and unanticipated changes
  • Supports self and others in pursuit of a healthy, balanced lifestyle; understands that health and wellness strengthen resilience and adaptability.

Competency:  Pursues creative and innovative approaches to library service 

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • Uses a wide variety of idea creation techniques, such as brainstorming
  • Demonstrates imagination, curiosity and playfulness 
  • Works creatively with others, staying open to diverse ideas and perspectives
  • Seeks innovative advances in public library service from other libraries
  • Applies ideas for service innovation from other sectors and industries 
  • Demonstrates ability to move from idea to implementation, putting innovation into action
  • Acts on creative ideas to make useful contributions to the library, the community and/or the library field
  • Views failure as an opportunity to learn.

Free access to public library service is a fundamental human right.  Everyone who works in a library should be guided by the universal values of the library profession, a commitment to service, and a strong work ethic. 

Last updated: January 6, 2015

Competency: Demonstrates an active commitment to service that guides work performance

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:      

  • Conveys a willingness to help in a manner that is warm, welcoming and approachable
  • Keeps the customer and customer service in the forefront when considering/ making decisions
  • Understands how every task and function is part of a dynamic system that contributes to quality service
  • Recognizes exceptional service when it happens in the library and tells others about it
  • Challenges the status quo in order to improve service.

Competency: Understands and acts in accordance with the professional values and ethics of library service

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:  

  • Understands the history of the public library and its role in society, both in general and in the particular local community
  • Endorses the mission, values and vision of the library
  • Advocates universal access to information and ideas through free library service, including access to the Internet and information technology
  • Understands and promotes intellectual freedom and freedom of information
  • Understands privacy issues and protects user confidentiality
  • Provides equitable access by removing barriers and creating an environment that encourages all residents to use the services of the library
  • Welcomes and values diversity.

Competency: Demonstrates a strong work ethic and personal accountability  

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:     

  • Practises time management and punctuality
  • Acts with moral integrity and is known to be reliable and dependable
  • Accepts responsibility for actions and work performance
  • Organizes and prioritizes work to accomplish multiple objectives effectively and efficiently
  • Strives to be successful in completing assignments and overall work performance
  • Seeks challenging work and new opportunities
  • Works conscientiously and without needing constant supervision.

Competency: Demonstrates loyalty and commitment to the organization

Associated Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • Works as a team player, contributing to the overall success of the library
  • Acts for the greater good and in the library's best interests
  • Aligns work performance and learning goals with organizational values 
  • Shares information and feedback in a manner that is helpful and constructive
  • Contributes to the organizational decision making when consulted
  • Respects and supports organizational decisions
  • Complies with organizational policies and procedures
  • Champions the library on and off the job!

Contact Us

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