In the original Being “The Library” Again post I wrote; “The problem becomes one of vision. The characteristics I stated above; vision, entrepreneurial spirit, and leadership are all essential to making the local library “The Library” again ….” I think when someone offers an opinion about how it should be, they should also offer suggestions about how to make it possible. Here are mine.
Start with yourself and a few key others.
Everything starts with yourself. If you have no vision, it is impossible to share it with anyone else, let alone influence your entire library, or a community. You have to create your vision. You have to believe it. You have to be passionate about it.
Share your vision with your key subordinates, partners, friends, and those who you believe will understand your vision. Since no one person can do anything by themselves, you have to create a core of individuals who can share the vision and help you proliferate it to others.
Work at activities that embody the vision until you have some small successes. Nothing motivates people like success. As the number of successes multiply, so will the sharing of the vision and the desire to keep making it bigger and more successful. Once you have a few key others sharing your vision, then you can move outward to encompass more people who are interested in sharing the vision.
Develop a shared vision.
Did you notice that in the paragraphs above I transitioned from “your” vision to “the” vision? That’s because the best vision is a shared vision. I stated that no one person can do it all, and that goes for a library’s vision. In reality it’s not “your” library – it’s everyone’s library – but you’re the person who, at this point in time, is responsible to make it “The Library” again.
Begin with personal visioning – BELIEVE IT – DO IT – SAY IT – until it becomes an organizational vision. Use that Vision Statement in your Strategic Plan to create a shared vision that can generate an organizational vision. Include the spirit of the vision in the library’s Mission Statement. Create strategic Objectives that manifest the vision and make it real.
If you involve all members of the organization in the shared vision, soon you will begin to see changes in attitudes, because people want something they can believe in. People want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. People want to be a part of success. Being “The Library” again in your community – in whatever form it needs to be in 21st Century society – is the biggest success librarians can have.
Disseminate the vision.
Conduct special meetings that focus on commitment to the shared vision and ways to implement it. Talk about it in regular meetings, and in written communication. Place the Vision Statement at the bottom of your emails, like the slogans and mottos that people often use. Tell the success stories to each other and to your partners and community.
At some point in this evolution, you should be able to refine the vision statement so that it can be made into posters, fliers, a logo or slogan, and make the widest dissemination possible. The best possible world is to have your entire community share the library’s vision, then it becomes their vision too.
Design structured implementation of the vision.
I’m hesitant to suggest some type of accountability for sharing the vision within or beyond the library, because when something becomes accountable it tends to lose its quality to inspire. When we are forced to measure whether we’re being successful at whatever, it becomes a task and a responsibility as well as potentially burdensome. THAT is the last thing you want to happen to your library’s vision.
But, my point is that you – the leader – need to recognize who has bought into the vision, who has not, who is feeling too reserved to share the vision, and who is opposed to the vision. All of these situations need to be resolved so that the organization can move forward as a unified group.
One way to have the needed unity is to have some ground rules for sharing the vision with each other, and with your community. If a smile and a greeting are part of the way you share your library’s vision, make that a ground rule. Every employee smiles and greets every library customer. (OK, that might be overkill, but I’m trying to illustrate a point.) Structure helps people understand the “How To” of ideas and concepts. Getting from the vision to the expression of the vision needs some structure and guidance. Understand your organization’s culture and use it to manifest the vision and make it real.
Tell the truth.
About where your library is now, what you want the library to become, and how you’re going to get there. (Gee, that sounds a lot like a Strategic Plan. ) The shared vision is just the beginning of making it happen. Understanding the necessary steps to making it happen is essential. You can all stand around and chant a vision, but that doesn’t actually make it happen over the long term.
Be honest about what it will require to move from where your library is now to where you want it to be to become “The Library” again. Develop a plan that implements the vision as well as your library’s plan to accomplish the mission. When people are inspired by a vision, they can accomplish almost anything. Because…..
A vision elucidates an underlying purpose.
A vision captures the mind and spirit.
A vision appeals to a noble and lofty purpose.
A vision is aligned with personal values.
A vision has to be shared and then sustained.