The Harvard Business Blog recently posted an article about how Britannica defied the odds. The article states that Britannica is continuing to thrive because it found its purpose (a commitment to excellence) and can stay focused on what’s important.
“Yet this year, defying predictions of its demise, Britannica leapt 19 places in the ranking of Brands in the UK. It charged ahead of Virgin Atlantic, Nike, and Sony. What’s the key to Britannica’s success? Britannica focused on its purpose; this made it possible to think clearly about its advantage.”
This got me thinking. Britannica is still around and succeeding. Wikipedia hasn’t killed it because they have different missions.
The idea of purpose is so powerful. But we often forget our purpose. We go about answering emails and going to meetings and get caught up in our day to day jobs. It’s necessary though to step back and think about why we’re doing all this and remember our purpose. It will reinvigorate our work and keep us focused on what we should be doing.
So what is our purpose? “The purpose of the Library is to preserve the integrity of civilization.” That quote was taken from The Darien Statements on the Library and Librarians, crafted by some pretty brilliant librarians.
Now I don’t expect people to think to themselves when they’re nuking withdrawn OCLC records, “gee…I’m preserving the integrity of civilization.” But having a sense of purpose in the back of your head is helpful. It doesn’t have to be this one from the Darien Statements either. That one applies to libraries as an institution. Different libraries will have different purposes. But finding that purpose and keeping it in mind when you’re making important decisions is what is going to allow libraries to continue to thrive in this age of ubiquitous information.
What’s your library’s purpose?