Strategy, Vision, and Focus
Although the words are often used interchangeably, strategy, vision, and focus do hold slightly different places in the overall library plan. Generally, strategy is a systematic way of evaluating where the library is now and where it should be in the future, while vision, values, and mission statements fit within the strategic plan. A good library-focused explanation of these terms can be found in chapter four of Library and Information Center Management by Robert D. Stueart and Barbara B. Moran (Libraries Unlimited).
There are several types of strategic planning, the most common of which is goal-based planning. Mission, values, and/or vision statements are used in most types of strategic planning. And while the format of the strategic plan will change somewhat depending on the organization's needs, a sample form can be found here.
A carefully articulated mission statement is fundamental in setting the compass bearing of an institution’s overall strategic plan. Here are guidelines on how to write a meaningful mission statement.
In Academic Libraries
Because of their status as part of a larger institution, academic libraries may choose to use their parent organization's strategic plans and values, vision, and mission statements, either in whole or in part, when writing their own. This does two things: 1) ensures that the library is working toward the goals of the university, and 2) helps the university fulfill criteria for accreditation.
As an example of the latter, the North Central Association's first criteria for accreditation is concerned with the integrity of the university's mission, including that "understanding of and support for the mission pervade the organization." Further examples of how the library fits into the accreditation process can be found in the following:
1. Baker, Ronald. 2002. Evaluating quality and effectiveness: Regional accreditation principles and practices. Journal of Academic Librarianship 28 (1): 3-7.
2. Drake, D. 2007. SACS Standards vs. ACRL Standards: The facts. Texas Library Journal 83(2): 68-69.
3. Gratch-Lindauer, Bonnie. 2002. Comparing regional accreditation standards: Outcomes assessment and other trends. Journal of Academic Librarianship 28(1): 14-25.
4. Malone, Debbie and William Neal Nelson. 2006. A library compliance strategy for regional accreditation standards: Using ACRL Higher Education Standards with the Middle States Commission. College & Undergraduate Libraries 13(1): 89-105.
5. Nelson, William Neal and Robert W. Fernekes. 2002. Standards and assessment for academic libraries: A workbook. Chicago: ACRL.
6. Nelson, William N. SACS standards 2004: A compliance strategy for academic libraries. The Southeastern Librarian 52(3): 9-16.
7. Saunders, L. 2007. Regional accreditation organizations' treatment of information literacy: Definitions, collaboration, and cssessment. The Journal of Academic Librarianship 33(3): 317-326.
Examples of Strategy, Vision, and Focus Statements
Libraries at ARL-member universities:
Auburn University (mission and vision statements, statement of values, and strategic planning initiative)
Brigham Young University (mission and vision statements)
Howard University (goals, mission, values, and vision statements)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (mission statement)
Oklahoma State University Library (mission and vision statements)
Queen's University (strategic plan)
SUNY-Buffalo (mission and values statements)
University of Chicago (mission, values, and vision statements)
University of Guelph (mission statement and integrated plan)
University of Kansas (mission statement)
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (mission, vision, and values statements)
University of Saskatchewan (mission, vision, and values statements, and strategic plan)
Wayne State (mission and values statements, strategic directions, and goals and objectives)
Libraries at liberal arts universities:
Grinnell College (mission and vision statements)
Oberlin College (mission statement)
Pacific Lutheran (mission and vision statements)
Truman State University (mission statement)
Williams College (statement of values)
Libraries at two-year colleges:
Lane Community College (policy manual with mission, philosophy, and purpose goals)
Linn-Benton Community College (mission statement)
Nelson, William Neal and Robert W. Fernekes. 2002. Standards and Assessment for Academic Libraries: A Workbook. ACRL: Chicago. (0838982115) Shows how to use mission statements in planning and assessment, as well as how to evaluate how library services, instruction, resources, access, staff, and facilities fit into the goals of the parent institution. Also contains appendices fitting ACRL standards to those of the various major US regional accrediting agencies.
Wallace, Linda. 2003. Libraries, Mission, and Marketing: Writing Mission Statements That Work. ALA Editions. (978-0-8389-0867-9) Brief but constructive advice for creating a mission statement that effectively anchors strategy and marketing efforts.
ACRL's Standards and Guidelines for Libraries in Higher Education (approved June, 2004). From the forward: "These standards are intended to apply to libraries supporting academic programs at institutions of higher education. Earlier standards for libraries relied heavily upon resource and program 'inputs' such as financial support, space, materials and staff activities. These new standards continue to consider 'inputs,' but they also take into consideration 'outputs' and 'outcomes.'"
ACRL Standards and Guidelines pageincludes professional standards on faculty status, tenure, and collective bargaining, as well as guidelines for such things as lending special collections materials, information literacy instruction, and distance learning services.
The National Center for Education Statistics lets you compare academic libraries using your choice of parameters, including FTE, expenditures, gate count, number of reference transactions, serial subscriptions, and number of staff. These comparisons are currently based on numbers from 2004.
Institutional Accrediting Agencies
As listed by the US Department of Education:
Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Higher Education, covering higher education institutions in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Middle States Commission on Secondary Schools, covering career and technology programs in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
New England Association of Schools and Colleges, covering both higher education and career and technology institutions in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission, covering degree-granting institutions of higher education in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming, including schools of the Navajo Nation.
North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement, Board of Trustees, covering non-degree, postsecondary education in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and in the Navajo Nation.
Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, covering postsecondary educational institutions in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington.
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges, covering degree-granting institutions of higher education in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.
Western Association of Schools and Colleges, covering career and technical schools, community and junior colleges, and senior colleges and universities inn California, Hawaii, the United States territories of Guam and American Samoa, the Republic of Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.