I love mission statements. I really do! I get excited when I’m researching a new organization and I can find clearly stated strategic priorities or service areas. It allows me to immediately identify which organizations have similar or overlapping goals with my library and which organizations have a very different focus or scope.

So I’m not sure why it took me so long to think of creating a personal statement of service priorities for my own job.

To clarify: I’m not talking about a career objective document or a performance evaluation, and I don’t intend to re-invent the wheel. Rather, I’ve discovered that creating an intentional document highlighting my areas of focus during a set time frame makes it easier to quickly identify where I should be spending my time and energy.

As library staff we have an abundance of resources from which to draw when deciding where to aim our focus. Just a few examples include the The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: A Call to Action, the mission statement and stated service priorities of our own libraries, and community information like reports from the Housing Authority, local organizations who work with insecurely housed youth, and community demographic statistics. It can be overwhelming to take all of these sources into account for every decision we make.

This year I decided to try an experiment. I spent a week in December pouring over the resources I listed above as well as looking back over notes from staff meetings and notable information from local neighborhood blogs, and I developed a plan. I created a one page checklist which I titled my “Personal Service Priority Plan”. This document will be the foundation for every decision I make in 2016. It is tailored to the needs I see in the community surrounding my specific library. It will serve as a rubric to quickly evaluate what I will pursue in terms of Outreach, Programming, Strategic Audiences, and Collection.

Each month I will post about how I have used this rubric in specific situations. My hope is that assigning a time frame of one year will result in an effective and easy way to create a year-end report and to evaluate the usefulness of this technique. And now, without further ado, here is my 2016 Personal Service Priority Plan:


  • Potential partner is clearly defined
  • We are aiming to serve/reach a similar or overlapping audience
  • Collaboration has measurable outcomes
  • Whenever possible events attended include dedicated times to interact directly with youth or with parents/families
  • Appropriate staff attends events based on needs of anticipated audience (determined through discussion with supervisors and regional resource sharing)


  • Will continue current successful* programs, but only add programs that address these priorities:
  • Clear tie to literacy/information
  • Connect people to an expert rather than use a non-expert staff as a presenter
  • Uses materials obtained through partnerships with organizations to enrich programs rather than as the sole basis of a program

*Successful programs reach target audiences as evidenced by not only attendance but also by feedback provided through participant evaluations. The YALSA Teen Programming Guidelines offer several considerations for determining success. For my purposes I am particularly interested in continuing programs that align with community and library priorities, develop interest-based, developmentally appropriate programs that support connected learning,develop (and maintain) rich, mutually beneficial community partnerships, and that can be staffed sufficiently and appropriately.

Strategic Audiences

  • Tweens (youth ages 8-13)
  • New immigrant families


Keep/maintain/re-order if

  • The material is useful on a shelf at a community branch library rather than in a repository or archival collection
  • The materials are heavily used by this community
  • The material is written by, produced by, or features underrepresented populations in this community
  • The material is intended for the strategic audiences identified in this priority plan

Remove if

  • The physical object is over 10 years old (unless it still meets the above “keep” criteria and will be difficult to replace)
  • It has become unattractive or outdated

Again, this plan is based on my own community. As I report this year on the implementation of these priorities, I would love to hear from you. Have you created a similar plan? How did it work? Are your areas of focus quite different from my own?

About Kristina Darnell

Kristina is a youth services librarian at the Seattle Public Library.

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