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PLLF Program Fellow Named Edmonton Public Library CEO

Submitted on Wednesday, November 30, 2016

pilarmartinez_1200by1500The Public Library Leadership Fellows (PLLF) program celebrates the appointment of another participant as Chief Executive Officer of a major urban library.

The Edmonton Public Library (EPL), the first ever Canadian library to be named the Library of the Year by Library Journal magazine, has chosen a brand new CEO — and that person has a strong and recent iSchool connection.

Pilar Martinez was named CEO of the EPL this past June after a decade with the library, promoted from Deputy CEO, a position that Martinez had held since 2013. Martinez was among the first cohort of the Public Library Leadership Fellows (PLLF) program, spearheaded by the iSchool and the Canadian Urban Libraries Council.

Of the promotion, Martinez says she is “elated” to serve the needs of its community. “I am honoured to assume the role of Chief Executive Officer of such an innovative and engaged library system.”

Already an established and distinguished librarian, Pilar is Past President of the Canadian Library Association (2013), and the 2012 recipient of the CLA/Ken Haycock Award for Promoting Librarianship.

Edmonton Mayor, Don Iveson, commented in press release that “Pilar’s passion and advocacy for Edmonton’s public library system, renowned leadership and knack for turning ideas into action have helped shape the Edmonton Public Library.”

Helping to reach the top of the EPL, was an iSchool-affiliated leadership program that was specifically designed to prepare public library managers for high-level administrative positions.

In 2012-2013, Martinez was among the first cohort of the Public Library Leadership Fellows (PLLF) program. This partnership of the Faculty of Information and the Canadian Urban Libraries Council was spearheaded in part by recently retired iSchool Senior Fellow and Lecturer, Wendy Newman.

“I am delighted – but not at all surprised – to see this appointment, and proud of Pilar Martinez’ achievements as a graduate of the inaugural Public Library Leadership Fellows Program.  She is an outstanding public library leader,” Newman says.

This is now the third of the original PLLF cohort to move to a CEO position. Rebecca Raven went from a senior job at Hamilton Public Library to become the CEO at the Brampton Public Library, and Jason LeDuc went from Counting Opinions (has library clients) to become Library Director at Dothan Houston County Library System (DHCLS) in Dothan, Alabama.

The PLLF was founded to ensure that candidates for executive-level positions at public libraries possess the necessary leadership competencies and managerial skills. Participating Fellows engage in classroom instruction, assigned readings, peer discussion, executive mentoring, and in-depth site visits to libraries across Canada.

“This fantastic news is exactly why the PLLF Fellowship was created,” says iSchool Dean, Dr Seamus Ross. “I hope future PLLF cohorts have the opportunity to meet Pilar Martinez and see a firsthand example of how the iSchool’s PLLF partnership is successfully preparing the next generation of public library executives.”

About the Program

According to a 2008 Canadian Library Association report, public libraries are at a critical crossroad, with the majority of library CEOs and senior administrators set to retire soon. Preparing senior replacements is essential, but Canada did not have a national preparation program for that upper echelon until November 2012, with the PLLF.

The program combines study, mentoring, and engagement in communities of practice to prepare its participants as leaders who will help to secure the future of public libraries and the diverse communities they serve.

The part-time 18 month professional certificate program is taken by Fellows in management positions who are recommended by their employers. Successful candidates are awarded the Certificate in Public Library Leadership.

“This program offers the right balance of instruction, case studies in exemplary libraries, mentoring, and peer interaction. The PLLF program is worth the investment in many ways,” Ms Newman says.

The second cohort of the program is approaching its 5th (of six) immersion-style site visits in November 2015, at the Cuyahoga County (Ohio) Public Library, headed by American Library Association President Sari Feldman, and will graduate following a final session at Toronto Public Library early in 2016.

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