Posted on May 8, 2011.
by Lisa Zwickey, Wisconsin Chapter, Transportation, Business & Finance, Leadership & Management Divisions
Future Ready Toolkit
This post is from SLA’s new Future Ready Toolkit. The Toolkit was constructed by SLA members who have drawn upon substantial professional experience and alignment research to help you hone your skills in a way that is relevant and global. The toolkit is collaboration, alignment, adaptation, and community put into action.
Ask yourself where – and what – you want your library to be 5, 10, 20 years from now. If you’re coming up blank, it’s time to write a vision statement. And to ensure you get to that visionary spot, write yourself a mission statement while you’re at it.
Vision statement – Defines the desired or intended future state of an organization or enterprise in terms of its fundamental and/or strategic direction. (Wikipedia)
Mission statement – Defines the fundamental purpose of an organization or enterprise, succinctly describing why it exists and what it does to achieve its vision. (Wikipedia)
Key Elements and Ideas
A vision statement is intended to portray where you want your organization to be in the future – it is your inspiration and the frame of reference for all your strategic planning. As a special library, your vision may be to be the main resource for empowering your fellow employees to make decisions to keep the company innovative and profitable.
Questions to ask yourself when composing a vision statement are:
- What do we do today? (We empower.)
- For whom do we do it? (Fellow employees and, ultimately, our customers.)
- What is the benefit? (Innovation and profitability.)
Be realistic, positive and align your statement with organizational values and culture.
The mission statement spells out how you will accomplish that vision. It briefly sets out how the information is collected and provided, what methods are best suited to your company’s needs (keeping in mind future technologies), and how the information may be used. For example, to empower employees to make decisions to keep the company innovative and profitable, the library will proactively provide information and analysis using current and reliable resources, value-added service and compatible and useful technologies. You may also want to mention that the library staff is committed to examining new and innovation methods of information delivery in order to provide superior customer service.
Questions to ask yourself when composing a mission statement are:
- What do we want going forward? (To be the main informational and analytical resource in the company.)
- When do we want to do it? (Proactively)
- How do we want to do it? (By using current and reliable resources, value-added service, compatible and useful technologies, and superior customer service.)
Be broad enough to allow for creative, and especially, in our field, technological growth. Write a statement that will distinguish your library from your company’s other departments and make sure it serves as a framework to evaluate current activities.
Libraries, Mission and Marketing: Writing Mission Statements That Work, by Linda K. Wallace. Chicago: ALA, 2003. 82p. $27, ALA members $24.30 (ISBN 0-83890-867-5) LC 2003-15471.
Scorecards for Results: A Guide for Developing a Library Balanced Scorecard, by Joseph R. Matthews. Westport CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2008. 112 p. $45 (ISBN-10: 1591586984, ISBN-13: 978-1591586982)
“Do You Know What Your Mission Is?” by Janet L. Balas; Computers in Libraries, Feb. 1, 2007. Word Count: 2115
“Fine-tuning Your Mission: Your Mission Statement Can Put You Right on Top of Your Market – Or Make You Irrelevant,” by Robert A. Sevier; University Business, June 1, 2003. Word Count: 2010
“Solutions: Mission Not Impossible,” by Russell J. White; Credit Union Management, Jan. 3, 2002. Word Count: 1109
Lisa joined J.J. Keller’s Research and Technical Library in 1991 and works with all areas of the company in the areas of business and statistical research, marketing, product development and strategic planning. Lisa has a degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and was a news reporter for a daily newspaper for six years before earning her master’s degree in Library and Information Science, also from UW-Madison. She has been a member of SLA since 1995.