Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Missions of Libraries - USF and Pasco County

Public libraries have broad missions, visions, and values (Rubin, 2010, pp. 173-174).  These can differ based on the size of the population and the type of community they serve (p. 174). Pasco County, Florida, is a small rural community north of Hillsborough County and the metropolitan city of Tampa.  Similar to most systems, Pasco County administers its libraries through a cooperative.  The mission for the Pasco County Library Cooperative (2012) is one which: 

 “Attracts and satisfies customers through outstanding and responsive customer service, an excellent selection of materials and resources, and an environment that encourages personal and community betterment.” (p.15) 

Apart from the mission statement, Pasco County embraces six “strategic focus areas”:  discovery, collaboration, technology, creation, spaces, and awareness.  These strategic focus areas complement and expand upon the American Library Association’s eight roles for public libraries discussed in Rubin (pp. 173-174) without overextending itself. 

By focusing on spaces, Pasco Libraries are focusing on the library as “a community gathering place” (Rubin, p. 178).  Svanhild & Ragnar (2012) found that library patrons tended to socialize more than bookstore customers because they greater sense of “ownership” of the library and treated it as their own. 

The strategic focus of “create” is interesting in that Pasco County is not only seeking to store media content (Rubin, p. 11-8) but is striving to be a place where patrons can “create content” such as videos, presentations, music, and art  By focusing on collaboration, Pasco also is expanding its new role as an “e-government gateway” similar to other public library systems (Jaeger & Fleischnann, 2007) .  

In Summary, the vision, value and mission statement of the Pasco County Library Cooperative is consistent with a small community library that is well supported by the community. 

Academic libraries have a specific purpose to serve those students where the library is located (p. 200).  They also provide a service to the academic community at large by engaging in scholarship and building collections that go beyond the needs of the campus for which they serve (University of South Florida, 2007).  In fact, there is a trend for libraries to go “more global” (USF, 2007; Rubin, 2010, p. 200). 

The USF library system has five libraries and a budget of $17.5 million (USF, p. 1).  Its mission is “to become a globally recognized academic library system advancing knowledge through integrated resources, responsive services, research, and instruction” (p. 2).  It seeks to implement this mission through five strategic goals. 

A few of these strategic goals were interesting.  First, while there was an emphasis on “patron self-reliance” (p. 3) consistent with Outsell (2003a) described in Rubin (p.  200), there was no information literacy program specifically mentioned that would help achieve this goal.  Second, two of the strategic goals focused on the acquisition of interdisciplinary academic and special collections.  Again, this was consistent with Rubin (p. 200) but surprising in that the interdisciplinary academic collection goal was announced as late as 2007.  Regarding the specific special collection areas announced in the strategic goal, the focus has shifted away from “Floridiana” and others such as Medieval studies and cartography to holocaust and genocide studies (B.Lewis, personal communication, September 11, 2012).  This change was surprising. 

The most fascinating mission statement I found, however, was the fairly nondescript one from the Harry Ransom Center (2012) at the University of Austin.  It states: 

“The central mission of the Ransom Center is to advance the study of the arts and humanities. To this end, the Center: Acquires original cultural material for the purposes of scholarship, education, and delight; Preserves and makes accessible these creations of our cultural heritage through the highest standards of cataloging, conservation, and collection management; Supports research through public services, symposia, publications, and fellowships; Provides education and enrichment for scholars, students, and the public at large through exhibitions, public performances, and lectures.” 

As Basbanes (1995) points out, the HRC went on a buying spree funded by Texas oil money from 1956 to where in 1970 it was considered one of the top 5 libraries.  Today it boasts one of the largest collections of manuscripts and letters from the great nineteenth and twentieth century writers.  Its policy of aggressive acquisition has led some to criticize the HRC but, in the end, it ranks as one of the greatest repositories of modern literature. 


Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin. (2012). Mission and History. Retrieved October 5, 2012, from 

Jaeger, P. T., & Fleischmann, K. R. (2007). Public libraries, values, trust, and e-Government. Information Technology & Libraries, 26, 34-43. 

Pasco County Library Cooperative. (2012).  2012-2015 strategic vision.  Retrieved October 5, 2012, from 

Rubin, R. E. (2010). Foundations of Library and Information Science (3rd ed.). New York: Neal-Schuman. 

Svanhild, A., & Ragnar, A. (2012). Use of library space and the library as place. Library And Information Science Research, 34,138-149. 

University of South Florida. (2007). USF Libraries Strategic Plan: 2007-2012. Tampa, Florida.

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