Skills Needed to Create Successful Library Programming

Effective library programming draws upon a wide range of job skills – from event planning to marketing to budgeting.

We have identified nine library programming competencies that are vital to producing successful programming.

This is not intended to be an exhaustive list but rather a set of objectives that are teachable, important, and currently under-instructed. Not all library workers will need to develop all of these skills, as different library types operate in different contexts with different missions.

Originally published in 2019, the Programming Competencies are dynamic, and we anticipate that they will change as the library profession does.

Image of the 9 Core Library Programming Competencies Chart. Going clockwise text reads: Knowledge of the community, interpersonal skills, creativity, content knowledge, evaluation, financial skills, outreach & marketing, event planning, organizational skills.


Works toward managing time and projects efficiently and effectively at multiple levels: individually, institutionally, and in collaboration with outside organizations and agencies.


Works toward understanding the communities for which programs are developed, including their particular needs and interests; building respectful, reciprocal relationships with community members and organizations; and ensuring access to a wide variety of programs for all community members, especially those who have historically been underserved or face other challenges to access.


Works toward communicating effectively and appropriately with all stakeholders and audiences to provide consultation, mediation, and guidance during programs and in other contexts relating to programs.


Works toward planning, managing, and implementing events that are both developmentally and culturally appropriate for their intended audiences.


Responds to challenges and opportunities with innovation, flexibility, and creativity.


Works toward sufficient knowledge of program content to deliver, manage, or evaluate programs, according to role.


Works toward communicating information about programs to all community members who could potentially attend or benefit, using a variety of digital and analog channels in ways that are culturally and developmentally appropriate.


Works toward budgeting, seeking funding for, and managing the f inances of a program or suite of programs, often in collaboration with external partners.


Works toward using statistical and qualitative tools to measure program effectiveness and impact on all community audiences, including those that have been underserved; and using this information to iteratively improve the development and delivery of programs.