One of the things we have been talking about here at PVLD is what is the one overarching thing that we are trying to do as a library and how do we communicate that so that is the guiding force behind the actions and behavior of every employee and volunteer.
We don't necessarily mean a "vision statement" or a "mission statement" or a tagline...we already have one of each of those...but rather a simple articulation of why we are here.
The conversation is ongoing, but the more I think about the more I think that it is not about "access to information", or "reading" or "community center" or any of the other concepts that we in libraries often talk about. What we are here to do is make our community, and people's lives, better.
The wording may not be quite right, and the grammar could use some polishing, but at the end of the day if our community is not made better because of what the library does, and if the life of every person who comes through our doors or uses our services is not made better in some way small or large because of their interaction with us, we are not fulfilling our true mission.
For the community that means understanding its needs and problems, as well as its goals and aspirations, and finding ways to meet the needs, help solve the problems, or support the achievement the goals and aspirations through the resources, services, and programs that the library offers.
For individual people it means not only offering resources, services and programs to help them address their personal needs and problems or achieve their goals and aspirations but also doing what we can to make sure that every interaction with us enhances their lives. That could be as simple as a smile and greeting to a lonely older adult or or the speedy and polite resolution of an issue with their library account or the ability to find something enjoyable to read or a clean and comfortable place to study (or a clean restroom for that matter!)....or as complex as helping them research a medical issue or complete a homework assignment or learn a new skill or language.
The key is that whatever we do should pass the tests of making things better for our community and for every person we interact with.
At least that is what I think the real role of the library is....what about you?