PLA Living the Mission Statement at Mid-Continent

ConverStation program with Mid-Continent Library System with Steve Potter

You must be able to memorize your mission statement. If it’s too long, it’s a manifesto!

Why is a good Mission Statemetn good?  What makes it good?

  • active voice
  • positive
  • short
  • built around action verbs and actionable
  • succinct
  • motivationa
  • specific
  • no jargon
  • Who is it for? staff or patrons?
  • “Bump up decisions against it” – Mickey
  • Know your audience – is this an internal or external document
  • Example: “uncensored equal access for all citizens.”
  • Statement should get to the Why? then the How? and then the actual work (like Sinek says)
  • Broad enough to be open to opportunities but narrow enough to focus you and your organization


  • Succinct v. broad with a Vision statement to focus the money and financials?
  • What’s is use?
  • What is specific to libraries – what do we do that is unique and important enough to put in a vision?
  • Avoid fluff
  • Avoid jargon
  • Hard to find the WHY – Curiosity, open access, enjoyment.  Look at Anythink Mission – “We Open Doors for Curious Minds.”

Strategic Priorities – do they go Under the statement?

  • Do not be hap-hazard
  • Broad and inclusive – then narrow the mission later or with other elements
  • Foundation – core beliefs.
  • Too broad manes you can’t measure success
  • Ho do you show success and impact?
  • Experience? Learning? Early Literacy? Meeting Place? Community Center?
  • Create KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS. Benchmarks – How what you do impacts the Big Picture
  • Becomes a Cultural Project – what kind of organization are you?
  • Nordstroms v. Library — 1 page of guides v. multiple binders
  • Intellectual freedom, fairness, integrity – HIRE for CULTURAL Fit.
  • To live the mission – how do we communicate it?
  • Branding – Ritz Carlton Example… Can you articulate the vision/mission?

How do you communicate it?

  • Paint it on the wall like ALA does!
  • Talk about it at meetings
  • Activities and games to learn the statement
  • Add to job descriptions and add it ass a measurable – “promote mission statement”
  • Desktop, Facebook, Website, Etc.
  • Learn where you fit in this Library Tribe
  • How do you indoctrinate the Board??

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