Community-led Librarianship: Lessons for Presenting

by Sam Coghlan, Director / CEO, Startford Public Library

Thank you for letting me be part of CCI’s Member Retreat this year.  I found the discussion on community engagement invigorating.

During the interview with Brian McCurdy, I mentioned “community-led librarianship” as a growing trend in Canadian libraries that I welcome and celebrate.  It is wonderful enough that it will lead libraries to try harder to connect to the marginalized people in our communities but, more importantly, it may provide, for many, the first welcoming gesture that allows them to feel that the community includes THEM.
This all started with a grant from HRDC involving four public libraries (Vancouver, Regina, Toronto, Halifax) and one of the outcomes of that grant is a manual for libraries on how to engage the marginalized.  It struck me as I was driving home, that you might want to look at that manual and consider how some (many?) of the recommended approaches might apply to your sector.  You can get it at
You may also find helpful the American Library Association (ALA) manual, Strategic Planning for Results (available for purchase at This manual may be a bit more practical, although I believe they are both very helpful.

ALA produces many, many resources not just for public libraries, but also for school libraries and academic libraries in colleges, universities, museums and research institutes. Resources specific to community engagement can be found on this page.
I wish your profession all the best as it moves forward, hopefully with community libraries moving with you.

Sam Coghlan

Director / CEO, Startford Public Library

Interview with Sam Coghlan at CCI Retreat 2013, Brantford ON

Sam Coghlan is the Chief Executive Officer of Stratford Public Library, 2004 – 2013. Sam serves as a Chair of Harrington & Area Community Association. His past community involvement and employment includes leadership of Perth Community Futures Development Corporation, Oxford County Library. Sam served on the board of Ontario Library Association, Victims Assistance Services and Women and Rural Economic Development. For a number of years, Sam has been a member of Perth County Social Research & Planning Council and Ontario Minister of Culture’s Advisory Council for Culture. Sam has a Law Degree (LLB) from the University of Windsor and Masters of Library Science from the University of Western Ontario. Sam grew up in Port Arthur (now Thunder Bay), and resides in Harrington since 2008.