On a + note


The tension of needs. #43. 2013

Posted in on a + note by flickfancy on October 28, 2013

kitty#43Working for “the people”, be it as a politician, police officer or a librarian is not an easy task. In economically challenging times it’s even tougher, as folks need more and there are fewer resources to meet their needs.

How to cope and help staff cope with this “tension of needs” is a growing dilemma. Over the weekend I was pondering this question and of course started a list of actions to balance needs with economic reality. The list looked something like this:

#3 STOP, step back, breath and go for a walk. A little perspective on a difficult situation like how to balance a declining budget or build a new library is always a good place to start.

#2 There is always two, three or four sides to every story. Stand in the other guys’ shoes and see if the issue still looks the same. You maybe surprised at what you feel and see.

#1 To balance the tension between what customers need and what the library can provide, go back to the libraries founding document, the mission statement.

The mission statement is defined as a cogent articulation of the libraries purpose. It provides the framework or context within which decisions are made and usually includes: the purpose of the library and how the library provides value to its customers

A carefully crafted, succinct mission statement answers the fundamental question, “why do we exist?” and consequently helps empower good decision making particularly when balancing  the customers’ needs and the funds to meet those needs.

Some examples of great library mission statements include:

►“The Seattle Public Library brings people, information and ideas together to enrich lives and build community

►Vancouver Public Library’s mission: “A free place for everyone to discover, create, and share ideas and information.”

►St. Thomas Public Library’s mission is: “To inform, educate and enrich our community.”

►Surrey Public Library “Our mission is to provide and promote access to local and global information and ideas, encourage literacy and support lifelong learning for all Surrey residents.”

All of these founding statements are powerful because they are:

  1. Visionary but specific and empowering
  2. Clear, short and direct…read this to mean staff can remember it

So, if you think the library mission statement is just another dusty document, read by a few, think again. It contains the very words that will help you make the tough decisions and keep you, the board and staff on task. The mission statement will remind you of why you love being a librarian and rebuild that passion that in tough times is put to the test.

Over the next few months GPL will begin drafting a new Strategic Plan for 2015-2017. The first step in this process will be to review and revise our current mission statement; “The Guelph Public Library benefits the entire community by providing lifelong learning opportunities. We believe in the freedom to read, learn and discover.” We will put a lot of energy into this process, because it is like an insurance policy, if you don’t have one you likely don’t know you need one. But, when it’s raining, you’ll be really glad you do!

Have a great week!

Kitty Pope                                                                                               #43 October 2013

kpope@library.guelph.on.ca

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