The question asked in the interviews while serving on the hiring search committee at my church was a little unnerving.
What is your vision for your ministry? (In the library world: What is your vision for your position?)
I realized that I couldn’t answer this question if it were placed in front of me because I wasn’t sure if I had a clear vision for what my librarianship should be like. What will I do to as a librarian? What are my ideas for advocacy, programming, organization, outreach, collection development, and reader’s advisory? What do I see my role in the library being? Therefore, I set it as a goal to develop my vision, if I didn’t already have it. It was also my goal to be able to answer the question in future interviews.
So, how do you develop a vision? I did a search for developing a vision as a librarian. I found:
- A vision for the library is synonymous to strategic planning. So you can ask yourself, what’s your plan for the library?
- Library Lost & Found’s Having a Vision: http://librarylostfound.com/2013/03/19/having-a-vision/
- Margaret Carpenter’s Vision for 21st Century Libraries: http://margaretcarpenterportfolio.weebly.com/vision-for-21st-century-libraries.html
Through that search, I moved the word “vision” out of the way and replaced it with “plan.” What do you plan for the library and your career? What’s your plan? What do you want to implement? What do you want to do? What do you not want to do?
The Steps to Creating Your Plan
1. Look at available resources and literature that discusses “library planning” or “strategic planning for libraries.”
To start, try:
- Nebraska Library Commission’s Strategic Planning Resources: http://nlc.nebraska.gov/planning/strategicplan.aspx
- Massachusetts Library System’s Resources: http://www.masslibsystem.org/long-range-planning-resources/
- Maryville University of St. Louis Library’s Story: http://www.infotoday.com/mls/jul98/story.htm
- New Jersey State Library’s Resources: http://lss.njstatelib.org/trustees/strategic_planning
- PLA’s Libraries Prosper with Passion, Purpose, and Persuasion: A PLA Toolkit for Success: http://www.alastore.ala.org/detail.aspx?ID=2330
- ALA’s Wiki on Administration and Management: http://wikis.ala.org/professionaltips/index.php?title=Category:Administration_and_Management
- Especially the Planning and Assessment Page: http://wikis.ala.org/professionaltips/index.php?title=Planning_and_Assessment
2. Decide what you’ll do in each category / situation / topic of librarianship.
For example, I’ve already created a Budgeting Rationale and many other plans on my mock- school library website: https://sites.google.com/site/sderingerslmc/.
3. Plan what you will do to continue learning (Professional Development Plan).
Will you join any library groups to stay informed? Will you attend webinars, MOOCs, conferences, workshops, and other events to learn new skills and ideas? Try ALA’s list for Personal Career Development: http://wikis.ala.org/professionaltips/index.php?title=Personal_Career_Development
4. Find a mentor from whom you can learn.
You need someone on your side to show you the ropes and cheer you on. Try these ideas from ALA-APA’s Mentoring 101: http://ala-apa.org/newsletter/2007/10/16/mentoring-101/
5. Enact your plan.
6. Reflect. Did your plan work? What didn’t work?
7. Change your plan if necessary.
8. Don’t give up.
Developing and having a vision is all about bettering the library and yourself. If you fail at something, don’t give up. It’s all about learning.
After going through these steps, I realized that I may already have a “vision” of what my library will look like more so than I previously thought. But I can see myself getting blindsided by this question in a job interview had I not thought about my “vision” for the library. I feel this is important to think about before going into an interview. Preparation is key!