Mission and Vision
What is my hope, my goal - my VISION - for school libraries?
And what will I do - my MISSION - to get there?
This page presents my personal mission and professional vision, both for school libraries and my role as a teacher-librarian. It also discusses how mission and vision statements are crafted, with references and recommendations, in the Research section below.
My personal mission as a teacher-librarian is to...
Model a passion for reading and inquiry,
a humble growth mindset,
flexible, creative and critical thinking,
ethical, compassionate engagement with information and social issues,
and genuine caring for each unique individual . . .
Be an innovative and efficient manager and promoter of library programmes and resources,
proactively implementing best-practice policies,
cultivating professional collaboration,
and building safe and vibrant communities . . .
. . . all in order to help lead students, coworkers and parents to a fuller, more joy-filled life.
The School Library is a is a safe place where questions are asked and answers sought; it facilitates inquiry and research for the school community.
All are welcomed,
diversity is celebrated,
ethical worldviews are deepened,
social justice is championed,
and an enduring love of literacy and learning is fostered.
Students will become compassionate advocates as local and global community members and
flexible, respectful and effective team players who can lead, follow, and collaborate.
They will be supported and challenged in a library programme that fosters
imagination and creativity,
evaluative skills and independent critical thinking,
ethical engagement with information,
compassionate awareness of the world and self, and
confident engagement with varied media and evolving technology.
What's behind this: Research & Reflections
Mission statements have the potential to be a powerful guide to both big picture planning and daily decisions. To be written well, they must be painstakingly crafted, and to be implemented well, then need to be collaboratively constructed and deconstructed, “unpacking” the rich meanings (Zmuda and Harada, 2008). My statements above, while personally useful, can not simply be brought into a new context from the outside. The act of wrestling with messaging and meaning as a community can foster deeper understanding of roles and goals, and a willingness to collaborate, or “pull in the same direction.” The more people and groups that are involved, the wider its impact, understanding and support will likely be. Core questions and important issues or concerns are likely to arise, and these discussions are important and useful for deeper understanding of others and ourselves.
“Mission both motivates and measures improved purpose” and can help to provide focus and coherence across diverse areas and activities (Zmuda & Harada, 2008, p. 2). If a mission statement is to improve focus and purpose in practical ways, key phrases need to be not only unpacked but also observable indicators set so that the mission statement can be measured, assessed, and have stronger followed through (Zmuda and Harada, 2008). For example, Asselin, Branch and Oberg (2003) provide indicators for each of their eight student outcome statements.
For the creating or shaping of a mission and vision, some helpful resources and ideas include:
Chapter 1 of Zmuda and Harada's (2008) Librarians as Learning Specialists - a great overall resource.
Various versions of library standards (see the Standards page) are helpful to consult. Among these, I especially appreciated the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions’ (2015) specific descriptions of the roles of the teacher-librarian as a way to consider the different aspects of our profession. The AASL’s standards provide a good starting point: “to ensure that students and staff are effective users of ideas and information” (Keeling, 2013, p. 36).
For the Canadian context, also consult Asselin, Branch, and Oberg's (2003) Achieving information literacy: Standards for school library programs in Canada and Oberg's (2003) Changing school culture and implementing the new standards.
Keeling’s mission statement speaks to the library, then the teacher-librarian's role, then outcomes (Keeling, 2013, p. 34). This is a great example and interesting format - avoiding repetition in library and personal professional mission statements.
Zmuda and Harada (2008) describe the different functions of the library:
“learning environment ... rich with opportunities [for] ... academic inquiries and personal interests …; natural venue for differentiation and … authentic, inquiry-based tasks …; information literacy and educational technology” (p. 10).
However, it is important to remain clear that it is the specialist, not the space, that brings these things about (Zmuda & Harada, 2008, p. 11). Teacher-librarian roles are needed for the good of students and schools, not for the good of teacher-librarians.
A useful idea is to consider what one would like graduates to look like (Zmuda & Harada, 2008, p. 11), such as:
compassionate advocates as local and global citizens,
strong, independent critical and creative thinkers, or media-savvy critical thinkers, able to ethically and efficiently obtain, evaluate, synthesis, create and represent information,
self-motivated life-long learners with resilient growth mindsets of hard-work and self-discipline to improve,
flexible, respectful and effective team player who can lead, follow, and collaborate with diverse group members,
curious and engaged, imaginative
Teacher-librarians need to focus on the teaching role for the personal mission statement; that is, TEACHER-librarians.
The IFLA School Library Guidelines (2015) are helpful with this, subdividing the school librarian’s role into instruction, management, leadership and collaboration, community engagement, and promoting library programs and services.
Also, instruction includes literacy and reading promotion, information literacy (information skills, information competences, information fluency, media literacy, transliteracy), inquiry-based learning (problem-based learning, critical thinking), technology integration, and professional development for teachers.
The ISTE standards for educators are more concise (but also more limited and subject-focused).
Just as the standards feed into the mission statement, so to do underlying learning principles. In the example list provided by Wiggins and McTighe (2007, in Zmuda & Harada, 2008, p. 3), some of their statements could be used as discussion starters for professional development or stakeholder creation sessions. Examining underlying assumptions about teaching and learning helps to direct our efforts.
It is worthwhile to consider some examples from industry - such as the list compiled by Kolowich (2018) - because of how concise and clear they are. They are fun to read, which is the opposite of the long, wordy, dense examples. The desire to include everything important must be balanced by the risk of overcrowded, overwhelming and inaccessible statements.
Asselin, M., Branch, J. L., & Oberg, D. (2003). Achieving information literacy: Standards for school library programs in
Canada. Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: CASL and ATLC.
IFLA School Libraries Section Standing Committee. (2015). IFLA school library guidelines (2nd ed.). Retrieved from
Keeling, M. (2013). Mission statements: Rhetoric, reality, or road map to success. Knowledge Quest, 42(1), 30-36.
Kolowich, L. (2018, July 9). 17 truly inspiring company vision and mission statement examples [Blog post]. Retrieved from
Oberg, D. (2003). Changing school culture and implementing the new standards. School Libraries in Canada, 23(1), 23-25. Retrieved
Zmuda, A., & Harada, V. H. (2008). Librarians as learning specialists: Meeting the learning imperative for the 21st
century. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.