Creating A Vision Statement For Your School Library
Do you have a vision for your school library? What about a personal or professional vision statement? Now, I know sometimes these things can seem like just business rhetoric, or perhaps you see the school’s vision statement trotted out by leadership without any actual reflection of what’s happening in the school. But having a vision for yourself and your school library is incredibly powerful.
Why a vision statement?
Are you a planner or a pantsers? When leaving on a trip somewhere, do you plan it all out, check the maps, and know exactly where you are heading or do you just head off and follow your nose? While a long, winding, scenic-route journey might be great for a Sunday afternoon drive, having a clear direction can be incredibly beneficial when it comes to your school library and professional practice. Just like having a destination and route mapped out, a vision statement guides the direction of your school library. It’s a statement about who you are, what you aim to do and where you want to go. It helps set goals and check that effort expended on projects is working in a direction that is helpful.
But it’s all in my head
For some people, they know exactly what they want their school library to be, it’s just all in their head, something they can see, but which they haven’t articulated to others or written down to share. Having a clear vision means having a statement that can be easily shared, verbally or in written form. It also helps to bring people along on your journey, to demonstrate what it is exactly that you do, and advocates for the (sometimes misunderstood) work of a school library or school library staff member.
What is a vision statement?
A vision is a short statement that outlines what it is you do, how and why. It sets the tone for your library or professional practice and where you want to go. It is a statement about your vision for the future. What you’d like to achieve and be remembered for. It is underpinned by your values and helps you set goals.
But why school libraries?
Aren’t vision statements for CEOs and large corporations? Why does a school library need a vision statement? We can learn a lot from the business and marketing world. After all, school library work is dominated by customer service and the need to market our services. Having a vision statement for your school library is a great way to get your library team working together towards a shared vision. Having a vision statement for your school library is a great way to share with your leadership how you align with the school’s vision, the value of the work you do and the need for continued support and funding. Having a vision statement for your school library is a great way to share with your teachers, students and school community, what it is you do to support them, to put into words the help they get from you.
Okay, but why do I need one?
I love having a vision statement for both my school library and personal professional practice, and I find it incredibly helpful in guiding my practice, decision making and career choices. If you are going to write a vision statement for your school library, why not create one for yourself while you are at it?
Writing a vision statement
Okay, let’s get started. I find creating a vision statement as part of a bigger brand audit really helpful, so if you want to do that, head on over to my Branding Audit Guide, which will step you through the process. But, if you want to just focus on creating a vision here’s an activity to help you get started.
As a team or by yourself, answers the following questions
A. In the next 5-10 years what do you want to accomplish?
B. List school libraries or librarians who have inspired you. Traits, characteristics, qualities.
C. How can you improve the school and school community?
D. How do you want people to describe you or your library 10-20 years from today?
Using the words you noted down in answering the four questions above, draft up your vision statement. Keep it short and sharp. One sentence is usually enough. Vision statements are aspirational, a guide for the future and what you want to achieve. It’s something you are working towards becoming, however, your vision statement should also be achievable. Your vision statement should be broad, this isn’t the place for specifics. You want it to stand the test of time and be suitable for a number of years.
A vision is about becoming the ideal version of your library and accomplishing your goals. Make it unique, capture your library’s personality, make it fun.
Have a look for examples of vision statements from businesses or other libraries for inspiration. Look at your school’s vision statement. Aligning them or using similar words or concepts can be very helpful when showing leadership the work you are doing in the library is supporting the school. This can then be helpful for garnering support for the school library.
Now, ask others outside of the library but who know your work the same questions and see what words or phrases they might add to the collection you have. Looking at your values, users and mission can also be helpful. Now edit your vision statement.
Need more help? I can highly recommend the book Do What Matters Most. It will step you through writing a vision statement and setting goals. It is practical and helpful.
Share your vision statement
Share your drafted vision statement with your library team, the people you helped answer the above questions or someone you trust who knows your work. Get their feedback. Does it feel right.
Once you have your vision statement, it’s time to share it. Put it on your school library’s website, strategic plan or share it with your school’s leadership team.
Reflect on your statement, try it out for a few months and then adjust if needed. Start to use it to develop goals or direct your strategic planning. Reflect on your work and how it is or isn’t working towards your vision statement.
Do you have a vision statement for your school library? How do you find it helpful?