Task A Three: Creating a Vision

The group needs to create a vision statement for the proposed library district. As you move further into the assessment phase, you must go beyond the general idea of improving library services. It is vital that you develop a specific vision of what good public library service looks like for your community. Your vision depends upon your community. In some communities the vision will emphasize children; in others it may be retired adults. When you develop a vision for the library district, you must consider your community. If you are not developing a vision in tune with the needs of your community, you will not be successful in your efforts.

How can you begin to develop a vision of what a library district might mean for your community? Visit libraries in similar communities and talk to librarians and board members. These visits will make you aware of what is possible in similar situations.

Contact the Montana State Library to find out future plans for libraries across the state or even the nation. This wider vision may help your districting effort.

Access to information is increasingly important in our society. People who are not being served by public libraries will be left behind educationally and economically. It is important that communities make decisions about library services from this perspective.

Holding public meetings can help identify a vision as well. You can ask people to identify what kinds of services they would like to have from a new library district. Try this exercise. Ask people to brainstorm what library services they would like to have within the next ten years. Services can be prioritized and the vision statement written on the priorities of the community. Attendance at public meetings is sporadic, so be sure and use a variety of ways to find out what the community needs.

When you have collected the information you need, write a vision statement. Use general terms and do not promise particular services. Here are some examples of vision statements that other districts have used:

Children in our community will have easy access to information they need for their education and recreational activities.

The library will promote life-long reading habits.

Adults will have access to information that will help them in their home and business enterprises.

Through the library district, our community members will access information from around the world.

The statement may then include potential services, stated as possibilities. For example:

To reach people throughout the service area, the district library may use bookmobiles or books-by-mail.

The district library may contain materials in a variety of formats, e.g. print, video, and computer accessible information.

The library may serve as a gateway to electronic networks.

Your vision statement can focus on the expansion of existing library services or the offering of new services.

Use clear and concise language, when writing your vision statement.

It should fit on a single sheet of paper and should be no more than a few paragraphs long. This statement should be used frequently throughout the districting project. Make it positive and highly readable. Reproduce the vision statement on high quality paper and make it graphically attractive. This statement will be one of the most important ways in which library district supporters will show their enthusiasm for creating a district.

Distributing the vision statement will probably be the first truly "public" act of the group that is leading the districting effort. The library board(s) should officially adopt the statement. It should then be sent to the local paper along with a story about the assessment process that the group is conducting. The story should include a way of contacting the group for comments.