Evaluating national library mission statements in Ibero-America

Publication Date10 Jun 2019
AuthorAna Reyes Pacios,María Pilar Pérez-Piriz
SubjectLibrary & information science
Evaluating national library
mission statements in
Ana Reyes Pacios
Department of Information Science, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid,
Madrid, Spain, and
María Pilar Pérez-Piriz
Servicio de Edición electrónica de publicaciones, SERIKAT, Bilbao, Spain
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to review the websites of 22 national libraries in Ibero-America to
determine whether and how effectively they display these organisationsmission statements, as well as any
convergence/divergence among these texts.
Design/methodology/approach A review was conducted of the national library websitesof ABINIAs22
members to locate their respective mission statements. The statements identified were analysed and
evaluated against the positioning and presence criteria and wording proposed by experts.
Findings Website content clearly attests to national librarieseagerness to publicise their mission
statements, which are readily accessible in most cases. Their functions are represented to a more or less
standard pattern. Most are portrayed as institutions responsible for custodying, enriching, preserving and
disseminating their countriescultural legacy. Other purposes mentioned include the promulgation of and
accessibility to the heritage custodied.
Practical implications The paper may prove useful for professional librarians involved in drafting or
revising their organisations mission statement in the wake of changing circumstances or on the occasion of
the formulation of a new strategic plan.
Originality/value Of the very short number of analyses of librariesmission statements published to date,
none discusses national libraries. This is the very first study of national library mission statement in
Ibero-America. It forms part of a line of research dealing with national library mission statements defined and
available on institutional websites for countries anywhere in the world.
Keywords Planning, Websites, Mission statement, IBERO-America, National libraries, Functions
Paper type Research paper
Many libraries have adopted management strategies in which planning is a consolidated
practice. Drafting the mission statement is an instrumental stage of that strategy, for the
librarys mission is its reason for existing, its primary role. Spelling it out in a clear
statement enhances internal coherence and the institutions identifiability.
Many strategic management theorists have underscored the importance of defining a
corporate, institutional or organisational mission (Thompson and Strickland, 2001). Authors
studying library planning have also defined mission statements as an essential strategic
element (Corrall, 2001; Bonachera-Cano, 2011).
Strategic, long-term planning has been deemed necessary since the 1960s (Sewell, 1970)
and its implementation recommended (Atkins, 1980) to ensure library effectiveness and
efficiency. The need to adapt and respond to the primarily economic and technological
change underway since the 1980s prompted these institutions to adopt and apply strategic
plans. Routinely found in many of todays libraries (Pacios, 2017), they denote the existence
of a clear mission that identifies these institutions and guides their commitments. Given the
Library Management
Vol. 40 No. 5, 2019
pp. 274-293
© Emerald PublishingLimited
DOI 10.1108/LM-07-2018-0054
Received 2 July 2018
Revised 5 November 2018
Accepted 13 November 2018
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
Thanks are owed to Rubén Capdevila, President of ABINIA and Director of Paraguays National
Library, for furnishing the associations strategic plan.
continuous and disruptive(OConnor, 2015) change to which they are subject; however,
national libraries find it necessary to assess their role with ever shorter horizons. Against
that backdrop, techniques such as scenario planning are recommended to confront and
anticipate an uncertain future by foreglimpsing both likely and unlikely situations
(OConnor and Sidorko, 2010).
As benchmark institutions that generate professional standards and models to be
followed in many respects, national libraries should specify their mission in a statement that
serves as an example and model for all other libraries in the respective country. This study
aimed to establish whether national libraries in Ibero-America publish explicit mission
statements on their websites and evaluate their content and expedience. It forms part of a
line of research designed to analyse the mission statements of libraries the world over.
Some of the present findings are compared to the results of the first stage, which addressed
European institutions (Pacios and Pérez, 2018).
In this paper, an initial review of the literature on the definition of mission statements
and national librariesfunctions is followed by sections dealing with the objectives of the
study, the methodology used and the findings. The working methodology was based
essentially on appraisals of the mission statements found on the websites published by
Ibero-American countriesnational libraries. The evaluation criteria applied were drawn
from the recommendations on form and content put forward by planning theorists.
Literature review: mission statement and national libraries
The mission statement and drafting guidelines
Druckers (1974, 2001) pioneering articles have since been supplemented by a number of
papers on how entrepreneurial mission statements should be broached from the perspective
of business management techniques. Kotler and Armstrong (2012) regard identifying
mission as an important element in strategic planning to define the organisations role in the
society it serves, the reason it exists. According to these authors, a clear mission statement
acts as an invisible handthat guides people in the organisation. Some studies view the
mission statement as a tool for enhancing or ensuring the engagement of the organisations
members (Campbell and Nash, 1992), whilst others establish a positive relationship between
such statements and measures of its financial performance (Desmidt et al., 2011).
In the first of two studies on the conceit, Khalifa (2011 and 2012) discusses the
contradictions and confusion around mission, vision and values. The second analyses a
series of statements, some very complex, that are not implemented in practice. The author
proposes a definition based on three pillars: an unyielding commitment to reflect
authenticity of the mission; a significant value or outcome signalling a consequential
challenge that is exciting and inspiring to stretch an organisations capacity; and a worthy
cause to give meaning to the organisations members so that they invest themselves in
creating the chosen value(Khalifa, 2012, pp. 242-243). Powers (2012) reviews the definitions
of and recommendations for missions put forward over time, while also stipulating that a
mission should be geared to customer needs, stable over a reasonable period of time, simple,
broad and multi-useful. He adds that the definition should be formulated as part of strategic
planning, the framework for organisational differentiation from the competition and for
establishing singularity.
To motivate staff, non-profit organisationsmissions should be outward- and forward-looking,
credible, simple, clear and straightforward, highly original, unique, characterised by a
certain intangible, utopian, ambitious and idealistic slant and subject to review every 35years
(Palón-Izquierdo and Tort-Raventós, 1991).
Similar features have been identified in the literature on library planning. Marco (1996)
notes that mission statements should not be drafted in vague terms and should bear in mind
both service providers and targets (1994, 2000) recommends brainstorming with library
library mission

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