continuous and “disruptive”(O’Connor, 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
(O’Connor 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 libraries’functions 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 countries’national 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
Drucker’s (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 organisation’s role in the
society it serves, the reason it exists. According to these authors, “a clear mission statement
acts as an “invisible hand”that guides people in the organisation”. Some studies view the
mission statement as a tool for enhancing or ensuring the engagement of the organisation’s
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 organisation’s capacity; and a worthy
cause to give meaning to the organisation’s 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
To motivate staff, non-profit organisations’missions 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 3–5years
(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