Mission Statement: First Draft

In an earlier post (“What I Think I’m Doing”), I wrote about the challenges of blogging about book reviewing (damn it, I promised myself I’d never use the word blog as a verb!), but I never got around to defining more precisely what I plan to do with “Likely Stories.”

And then last night it hit me: I need a mission statement.

Now, I know that some readers will groan, lumping the concept of crafting a mission statement in with a lot of annoying corporate-world exercises like “team-building,” “self-evaluation,” and “sabotaging a colleague’s career in order to get ahead.” I, too, am wary of the corporate-think that has colonized the world at large. Even grade-schoolers and grandparents seem to have become familiar with such concepts as “protecting the brand,” “pay-for-play,” and “merchandising-tie-ins.”

But even in the tweedy (some might say threadbare) not-for-profit world, we shouldn’t hesitate to adapt the techniques of commerce when they can help promote the arts. After all, if I’m hoping to promote reading by making book reviewing more transparent, it would be very useful for readers to have a short statement letting them know what to expect – and, indirectly, what not to expect – from this blog.

And so, after careful pondering and strong black coffee, I present this draft of the mission statement for “Likely Stories”:

“‘Likely Stories,’ the official blog of Booklist Online, vows to fight evil and injustice, to protect the innocent and shelter the weak, and to at all times uphold the highest standards of honor, valor, and chivalry. ‘Likely Stories’ will neither be cowed by danger, nor daunted by threat of personal discomfort, in carrying out its mission. Evildoers will be hunted down and prosecuted without regard to rank or musculature. ‘Likely Stories’ will not rest until it has secured world peace; once world peace has been secured, it still will not rest, understanding that world peace can only be protected by eternal vigilance and the self-denial of the need for regular snacks.”

I know that seems a little, well, “big.” And I’m considering cutting the line about world peace, which is kind of cliche. But why have a mission statement if you don’t have a sense of mission? It wouldn’t make any sense to say:

“Likely Stories vows to do an okay job.”

Maybe I don’t need a mission statement, but a motto: “A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man.”

I’d use that, but I need something original, not from The Simpsons – I don’t want to end up like Kaavya Viswanathan.

Let me work on a second draft and get back to you tomorrow.

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About the Author:

Keir Graff is Executive Editor of Booklist Publications and the author of five books. His most recent is the middle-grade novel, The Other Felix (2011). Follow him on Twitter at @Booklist_Keir.

3 Comments on "Mission Statement: First Draft"

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  1. newcapris@yahoo.com' Nan Capris says:

    This is good stuff, but I’m a long-time Booklist subscriber and KNOW there are other reviewers besides Keir. I keep coming here and never see anyone else write.

    Why aren’t they posting too? Or is this a personal blog, and each reviewer will get their own blog too?

    I think I speak for a lot of Booklist fans when I say I would like to hear the “voices behind Booklist.” .. if not all of them, at least a few!


  2. kgraff@ala.org' Keir says:

    Thanks for your comment, Nan. There certainly are other reviewers – many of them with a far heavier reviewing load than mine. We do plan to add more bloggers in the future, but the transition will be gradual. In creating Booklist Online, we’ve essentially added a whole new publication without adding any staff, and so it’s taking some time to integrate the additional workload into our normal routine. But I’m sure it won’t be too long before we get more voices into the mix. Your vote has been duly recorded!

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