One of the most exciting steps in strategic planning is developing your mission and vision statements.  Your mission and vision will serve as your North Star for your library’s activities during the next 3-5 years.  Let’s review why they are important, what’s required, and what makes them different.  Most importantly, I’d like to share some tips for the process of developing your mission and vision.

What’s the difference between a mission and a vision statement?

A mission statement should declare the fundamental reason for the library’s existence. Mission statements should inspire people to action and increase understanding of what the library is striving to accomplish (Gerding 2018). Your vision statement should be an uplifting and inspirational declaration of the library’s values, hopes, and shared aspirations.  Your vision shares a dream for the community.  Preferably, both statements should be brief, broad, delightful, dreamy, and memorable. 

Are libraries required to submit both to MBLC?

No, MBLC requires just one.  You can submit a mission statement, a vision statement, or both.  It’s up to you.  Check out the MBLC Planning site for details about what is required. 

What are some helpful approaches to developing a mission and vision statements?

Draw upon your library’s strengths when putting together your mission and vision.  What does your community value the most about your library? Where does your library excel? What are the unique needs of your community? How can your library contribute towards a flourishing community?

It’s a best practice to refer to your parent organization’s vision statement when preparing your vision and mission statement.  Public librarians, keep in mind what matters to your town/city.  Academic librarians, what issues matter to your university?  For your vision statement, you can use your municipal or organizational vision statement if it applies.  

Hot tip! You don’t need to update your mission and vision statement every time you put together a new plan.  If your current mission +/or vision still holds true as your North Star after gathering all your community assessment data, then save yourself the time and keep them.  

Examples of Excellent Mission and Vision Statements

Many Massachusetts libraries have excellent strategic plans.  Here are a couple statements that I consider top-notch!  

Mission Statements

We are the community’s bridge to exploration, engagement and enjoyment. (Chelmsford Public Library)

Improving lives through the power of information, ideas, and innovation (The Goodnow Library)

The Somerville Public Library enhances the Somerville experience by acting as a trusted community connector, providing cultural and learning opportunities for all.

Vision Statements

Forbes Library is a welcoming haven for all.  We build connections that strengthen our communities, inspire curiosity, open windows to the past, and create pathways to the future. (Forbes Library, Northampton)

When the world visits Oak Bluffs, we let them see Oak Bluffs.  When the world leaves Oak Bluffs, we let Oak Bluffs see the world. (Oak Bluffs Public Library)

Creating Community, Inspiring Ideas, Enhancing Access (Olin College of Engineering Library)

Would you like to consult about developing your mission +/or vision, or anything related to strategic planning?  

Reach out to MLS Strategic Planning Consultants, Kristi Chadwick and me/Michelle Eberle for support.  Reach out to Rob Favini (MBLC) with any questions about the MBLC approval and filing process.

Stay tuned for next month’s blog post on Strategic Planning: Putting the Finishing Touches on Your Plan.


Gerding, Stephanie.  Dynamic Planning Institute (PLA 2018)

MLS Strategic Planning Guide (includes links to all the featured strategic plans)