LIBR 576 Public Libraries


MLIS and Dual MAS/MLIS: completion of MLIS core; recommended co-requisite: 504

MAS: completion of MAS core and permission of the iSchool Graduate Advisor

GOAL: In accordance with the UBC Mission Statement, the overall goal of this course is to enable students to contribute to the economic, social, and cultural progress of the community by preparing them for positions of responsibility in public libraries. More specifically, students will be able to describe general missions and values of public libraries, the environmental changes affecting those missions, and how those changes affect the current and future management of public libraries.


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

  • Describe some of the key factors in the history of municipal and regional public libraries
  • Name some traditional commitments/values of the public library and compare and contrast those to the commitments/values of today’s public library
  • Explain the composition and governance responsibilities of both municipal and regional library boards
  • Describe the role of public library legislation and its implementation across Canada
  • Describe the various roles assumed by Friends of the Library
  • List the various types of in-house statistics that should be used for management purposes and demonstrate how those statistics can be compared to those gathered at provincial and national levels.
  • Discuss why media skills are important for public library managers, describe those skills, and demonstrate their application through dramatization
  • Identify the key economic, labour union, and supervisory elements regarding use of volunteers
  • Describe the leadership qualities possessed by effective public library managers


  • Purpose and history of Canadian public libraries
  • Public library legislation: history and current situation in Canada and internationally
  • Library Boards: different types in municipal and regional systems
  • Managing Volunteers and Friends Groups
  • Unions in Public Libraries: Managing with and without unions
  • Staffing levels and responsibilities: role of library technicians & clerks
  • Leadership styles: Different situations, different styles
  • Managing problem customers
  • Writing policies, goals, and objectives
  • Developing media smarts: Press releases, media interviews
  • Public library statistics
  • On the horizon: Future issues in public library management
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