Venn Librarian

Reflections about the intersection of schools, libraries and technology.

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What’s my mission?

Posted by lpearle on 22 August 2013

Ok, not really my mission, but the mission of a modern school library (I just can’t bring myself to say “21st century school library” because let’s face it: all school libraries are, by the sheer fact of the date, “21st century”.  /pedant).

Years ago, a school I worked at was starting the self-study process that comes before the decennial visit from an accreditation committee.  We had several full-faculty meetings during which we talked about the school’s mission and what it meant.  A dear friend and library mentor raised the following point – a mission statement should be one or possibly two sentences that clearly state what the [school/company/person/country] is about.  All the rest is implementation.  Example?  Avis’ We try harder. Can’t get much clearer than that, can you?  You instantly know who they are, what they value.  Apple’s Think Different is not even grammatically correct, and leaves open the question of “who thinks different, me or Apple?”

Last week I had a conversation with my new Head and she challenged me to create a mission statement for the library.  Something short, pithy, descriptive and capturing exactly what the library is, today.  What it should be tomorrow.  What it could be in the future.

Part of the problem (she feels) is that we haven’t really succeeded in creating that mission statement.  We constantly add to the description of what a library is, but then we run into the whole kitchen sink problem: we’re about books… and multimedia… and makerspace… and digital/visual/information/trans/whatever literacy… and we’re not about place we’re about service… and should be kitchens (or is it grocery stores, or shopping malls, or maybe Barnes & Noble).  Etc.  I’ve been mulling this over during my long hours in the car and at odd hours as I get things done and I agree.  We know and can clearly create a mission for the “old” library, the one with few resource types from which to choose and shushing librarians and old tomes, but what about the modern library?

Help me, people.   How do you define your school library’s mission?

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