Mission and Vision work together for your long-term success – even and especially during a pandemic. A Mission is your purpose. Most of you have written one for your school library. It has guided your decisions on where to put your energy and in assessing how successful you have been. Your Vision has been your inspiration, opening your mind –and planning—to what might be possible someday.
Your Mission and Vision are core to your school library and they can stay the same for years, even when times and circumstances affect how you do your job. However, the last few months have you dealing with a major shifts in what and how you work. For your own guidance and the future of your program, it’s a good time to revisit your statements.
Here are two sample Mission Statements:
- The Mission of the School Library is to create lifelong learners with critical thinking skills, and an appreciation of literature by providing opportunities for all students to gain the self-confidence necessary to successfully learn in an information-rich world.
- The Mission of the School Library is to ensure that students and staff are effective users and producers of ideas and information, promote literacy, and develop students’ competencies to be ethical participants in a global society.
Here are two sample Vision Statements:
- The School Library is a safe, open, accessible and inviting learning library commons, essential to student achievement, citizenship and support the principles of intellectual freedom. Our students think globally and are capable of creating new knowledge.
- The School Library is a user-centered environment where up-to-date resources and technology and a responsive staff empower students and teachers to achieve their academic and personal goals.
All four are powerful statements declaring the value of the school library. (NOTE: I have dropped the word “program” because the National School Library Standards states that we should say “school library” not “school library program”.) As written, they reflect what you have been doing during quarantining event though you have been doing so differently. And it’s that “differently” which is necessary to address.
What else have you been doing as part of distance learning? From what I have been reading, you have been building and strengthening your educational community. And that community is larger than it was. Parents are now an integral part of the community you have created.
You also have drawn on national library association sources, primarily ALA and AASL, to bring the latest information on the virus and how it affects schools. Your PLNs such as the library-based Facebook groups have been a source of creative ideas to further help your students, teachers, parents, and, hopefully, your administrators.
You have shown teachers new digital tools for distance teaching. While you have always been a tech integrator, now more than ever you have become their tech expert, hand-holding many of them through the steps need to get their lessons to students and helping parents get online.
Distance learning has also highlighted the digital divide. What have you contributed in helping students who have limited or no access to wi-fi? (See ALA’s Equity, Diversity Inclusion: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights.) How will you be able to help the administration deal with the issue?
Reflect on the changes and all you have contributed. Come up with a list of words that highlight your new role. If “community” wasn’t in your old statements, it needs to be now. And be sure that community means the larger community. If possible. include your role with administrators. If technology wasn’t mentioned consider phrases like “bridges the divide between…” or “supports the use of … for…”
As discussions begin on what it will be like when we return to school, you need to expand your advocacy work. Schools are facing budget cuts (yet again), and all to often that has meant eliminating librarians. Don’t wait until cuts are announced. Be proactive. Send out information on your updated Mission to show administrators and parents the key role you and the library play for students’ success. Volunteer to be on any committee working on what it will look like when your district returns so that the library is part of the plan.
Collect evidence that shows how you have been a leader. Show what you have done in making your library a safe, welcoming environment even when you aren’t in your physical space. Check for graphics created by different states to present what librarians have been doing during the pandemic.
And if you do make changes, don’t forget to use your tech expertise to showcase your new Mission. Share it widely – with teachers, parents, and the administration.