May 072008

Steven Bell asked this question in a post to ACRLog on 4 May, What’s your signature statement ? Chefs have signature dishes that they prepare better than others. Many educators have a statement of teaching philosophy . Steven points out that he’s never heard of an academic librarian having a signature statement and making it public.


He’s challenging us to go public and tell people what makes us special, standout in our field of librarianship – and share our signature statements. What do you personally bring to libraries (or aim to bring to libraries) to flavour the service they offer? It’s a given that all librarians will want to offer excellent service that provides the best information possible – but what is your personal special blend and methodology to achieve this?

Steven offered this:

I think my passions for keeping up, blended librarianship and design thinking certainly contribute to my signature statement. So here’s what I came up with:

Ideas and innovation inspired by a desire to learn in the service of my community.

I’ve actually had a personal mission statement for a while, having created one as part of professional training last year. I find it a great guide to see whether I’m on the right track. It’s not something that I really thought about sharing.

It has also been a bit of a case of “be careful what you wish for”. As a result of sitting down and trying to articulate just what I was about, I realised that the client group I want to serve is actually other librarians – to help them learn what they need to know to serve our clients better. Coincidentally ( ??) once I articulated it to myself, I started getting invitations to speak and run workshops for librarians. Having the statement has been useful for me to work out whether to accept gigs outside of work – so far I’ve refused invitations to speak at events run by corporations whose main business is to make a profit from their events.

So, here’s my signature statement, which is a bit of shopping list with quite a bit crammed into it:

To identify, communicate, publicize and provide training in the ideas, skills and tools our libraries need to ethically and peacefully enrich their communities.

I’d love to hear yours.

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  6 Responses to “What’s your signature statement ?”

  1. “knowledge requires collaboration”

    (also used on my passion quilt – and on my moo cards…)

  2. I am sure this will change, but for now it is, “Absorb everything, challenge everything and take the risks needed to get it done and excel at it.”

  3. I have three sig lines that I use regularly; they are all quotes. My favourite is a post from US activist Audrey Lorde:


    “and when we speak we are afraid

    our words will not be heard

    nor welcomed

    but when we are silent

    we are still afraid.

    So it is better to speak


    we were never meant to survive”

    Audre Lorde


    My other ones are:

    “Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will
    open where you didn’t know they were going to be”
    – Joseph Campbell

    “remember only one thing: that it’s you – nobody else – who
    determines your destiny and decides your fate.
    nobody else can be alive for you nor can you be alive for
    anyone else.” e.e. cummings

    All of these are different reflections on how I view my whole life, be it personal or professional, and the role I want to play and want public libraries to play.

  4. […] originally came across this idea on the Librarians Matter blog, where I posted my signature. My hope is that my signature is a reflection of my personality, job […]

  5. […] line: Steven Bell asked this question in a post to ACRLog on 4 May, What’s your signature statement […]

  6. I don’t know about signature statements but I currently rotate the following three mission statements: “Trust your heart and shoot for the stars,” “To serve with honor, passion and dignity,” and “To strive for excellence in all things.”

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