School of Library and Information Studies

LIS 598 Issues in Public Library Management

Course Outline: 

Instructor: Jeff Barber

June 17, 18, 19 (2011)

Prerequisites: LIS 501, 503

Recommended pre- or co-requisites: LIS 504

Course Goal: To prepare students for positions of responsibility within public libraries. This course will build on knowledge acquired by students in LIS 501, and will be complementary to knowledge students may have gained in LIS 504 and LIS 545.

Course Objectives: 

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Describe some of the traditional responsibilities, values, and roles of public libraries in the 19th and 20th centuries, and compare those to the responsibilities, values, and roles of public libraries in the 21st century
  2. Explain the purpose of public library legislation and its implementation
  3. Describe the governance structures of municipal libraries and the various types of regional libraries in Canada, how library boards work, and how managers can work effectively with those boards 
  4. Discuss the roles of labour unions, Friends groups and volunteers within a public library
  5. Describe and discuss the competencies and leadership characterisitcs that effective public library managers possess
  6. Discuss particular issues relevant to management in public libraries. Topics may include:
    • Evidence-based practice
    • Consortia
    • Finance, capital planning, and fundraising
    • Social Inclusion and Community-led librarianship
    • Intellectual Freedom  

Possible Assignments:

  1. Attend a public library board meeting, and write up an observation log focusing on the governance context.
  2. Identify a current public library issue and write a paper that explores how it has been addressed by several libraries.
  3. Develop an evidence-based proposal to support a management action or program.
  4. Use public websites and statistical data to suggest and make a case to support a ranking of the top three public libraries in Canada.
  5. Identify an issue faced by a public library, and write a plan on how you, as a public library manager, would address that issue strategically. 

Reading List

Libraries Act - Alberta <> [Scan for ideas rather than details.]

Garber, Nathan. Governance Models: What's Right for Your  Board <'s%20right.htm>

Carver, John & Miriam Carver. Carver's Policy Governance Model in Nonprofit Organizations

Hough, Alan. The Policy Governance Model: A Critical Examination <>

Storm, Paula, Robert Kelly & Susann deVries. "Office Politics: a guide for the politically challenged librarian." Library Journal. 133.18 (Nov 1, 2008); 34(3).

Taylor, Merrily E. "It's Hard to Make New Friends: What to Think About in Creating a Friends of the Library Group." Library Trends. 48.3 (Wntr 2000); 597.

Leadership vs Management <>

Cleyle, Su & Julie McKenna. Evidence Based Librarianship Backgrounder <>. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice. 2008; 3:3.

Abbott, Wendy A. Persuasive Evidence: Improving Customer Service through Evidence Based Librarianship <>. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice. 2006; 1:1.

Community-led Libraries Toolkit <>. [Pages 7-16 only].

CLA Position Statement on Intellectual Freedom <>. 1983/11/17.

Questions & Answers on Librarian Speech in the Workplace <>. American Library Association. 2004/01.

Whitmell, Vicki. The Future of Human Resources in Canadian Libraries <>. Canadian Association of Research Libraries, Ottawa. 2006. [Scan Section D only].

Albanese, Andrew Richard. "Foundations for the future: once the primary domain of Friends groups, fundraising has become an increasingly refined professional activity". Library Journal. 127.8 (May 1, 2002): 40(4).