Public Library Skills Strategy

public library skills strategy

The Public Library Skills Strategy is a joint initiative from The Society of Chief Librarians (SCL) and CILIP, the strategy has been created to support the development of the public library workforce in England, ensuring it continues to meet the changing needs of today’s audiences. This Strategy will guide and support the learning and development needs of the Public Library Workforce in England, enabling us to deliver our vision of a future for Public Libraries as Digital, Creative and Cultural Centres of Excellence.

The programme has seen the release of the Public Library Skills Strategy 2017-2020 and an accompanying press release

A working group met during 6 workshops to explore area of interest that would lead to a strategy that could guide employers to help:

•    Promote leadership at every level of the workforce
•    Enable the delivery of outstanding customer service
•    Explore continuing professional development and training for all library staff
•    Attract and retain the best talent
•    Understand and plan for the learning and development needs of key stakeholders
•    Understand and plan for the learning and development needs of volunteers

The Strategy sets 2030 as the target date for the delivery of this vision, giving employers, learning and training providers and other key stakeholders time to re-equip and reshape the workforce, to give the lead time needed to change the entire approach to workforce development and take into account education as well as training.


In summer 2016 The Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) and The Society of Chief Librarians (SCL) agreed to work together on a joint Public Library Skills Strategy, with support from the Libraries Taskforce. The aim was to create a coordinated approach to the development of the Public Library workforce which will inform the learning and development offer that Local Authorities provide to their councillors and senior officers, library workforce and volunteers. A further aim of the strategy was to recommend actions for CILIP, SCL, Local Authorities, Individuals and other key stakeholders to take forward.

The Libraries Taskforce committed to a workforce development strategy as part of its Action Plan supporting Libraries Deliver, published in December 2016. It was agreed that CILIP and SCL were the right organisations to lead and develop this because of their respective and ongoing roles in leadership, delivery and professional development.
CILIP and SCL joint lead the development of the strategy with the help of a working group made up of library practitioners from across England. The working group included frontline, specialist and senior staff as well as student representation, with support from CILIP staff who have a key role in workforce development.

Although this strategy covers Public Library Skills in England, the working group consulted with experts in the profession from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and with experts from the wider Information, Library and Knowledge sectors including Health Libraries, Schools Libraries, Government Libraries and The British Library. This work will continue into 2018 as CILIP develops a UK wide Sector Skills Strategy.

In addition to the strategy planning workshops, members of the working group extended the discussions to the wider workforce via a series of 4 Libraries Taskforce sector forum events across the UK.

The Public Library Skills Strategy Working Group

  • Alison Wheeler, SCL Lead
  • Mandy Powell, CILIP Lead
  • Tracey Cox
  • Julie Griffiths
  • Sue Wills
  • Subnum Khan
  • Hannah Boroudjou
  • Zsuzsanna Nemeth
  • Claire Back
  • Sara Teers
  • Chris Fardon
  • Luke Stevens-Burt, CILIP
  • Jo Cornish, CILIP
  • Julia Chandler, Libraries Taskforce


Mandy Powell
Assistant Director- Workforce Development
CILIP: Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals

Alison Wheeler
Chief Executive
Suffolk's Libraries Industrial and Provident Society (IPS)