Every year brings new challenges to school libraries; whether it is budget cuts or 1:1 technology roll-outs or something else. In the current education climate it is vital we all continue to demonstrate how our services benefit the school community and improve teaching and learning. This article is the first in a series that will focus on supporting Teacher Librarians in their leadership and advocacy roles.
Resolution: noun. 1. A firm decision to do or not to do something. (Google definition)
I’ve been on school holidays, but like every other Teacher Librarian I’ve been making plans for the next year. I’m looking for ways to encourage students to read more and learn how to put information into their own words. I’m planning a Tumblr site for students and staff as we launch the iPad program plus a whole lot more. And now here it is – the start of a brand new term.
We all know that keeping New Year’s resolutions is hard. Staying committed to new plans in the library can be just as hard. They get lost in the day-to-day scramble to meet the needs of students or staff, or they get side-tracked by other ideas that crop up. It’s easy to slip into a reactive mode of operation rather than a proactive one, and that’s not good for a school library’s image. So how do we maintain our resolution and realize our wonderful plans? First, we need to lay some foundations.
Build a Vision, State your Mission
Have you got a vision for your school library? Visioning may sound like day-dreaming, but it is a vitally important proactive step for school libraries. The vision is how you see the library in the future, it is your inspiration. It is also how you aim to meet the future with your service.
Without a vision, things can be confusing (or worse). You may find members of the school community have out-dated perceptions of the purpose of the library, the role of the Teacher Librarian and even the relevancy of the service. Share your vision and refine it with principals, staff, students, community members; it will improve your library’s position and help it to become important to the school’s overall vision and strategic planning. Now commit to the vision with a Mission statement. (No, they are not the same thing; you’re going to need both!)
Mission statements spell out how you intend to turn the vision into reality. The statements you make in it are your approaches or strategies so think broad rather than specific for this. Once you have good mission statements, you can use them to help you prioritise and decide on goals and the actions/programs to achieve your goals.
If you’ve never written a vision or a mission statement before, there is plenty of help at hand.
- Mission Statements resources from SLAV
- School Library Mission statements from Resources for School Librarians
- Illinois School Library Media Association has a course wiki (check out their intro page too)
- IFLA’s wonderful Library Manifesto
- For a passionate take on the need for meaningful mission statements vs. jargon (not library specific), read Do You Have a Mission Statement, or Are You on a Mission?