CPD23 Thing 11: Mentoring

On reflection, I think I have 2 mentors in two librarian friends of mine. Both are older than me and one is female, the other male. I use the word ‘think’ here because I have asked advice of them and have watched and learnt from them. But this arrangement is informal and I haven’t told them they are my mentors. But I think they know I look to them for advice. I’ve also learnt a lot from people who post to various e-lists that I belong to – the HTAi Information Resources Group e-list (mentioned in an earlier CPD23 post), expert-searcher e-list, and various evidence-based practice e-lists. I’ve not considered asking someone to be a formal mentor. For me, it would be someone who is not a librarian but a professional in evidence-based practice. This would be very valuable and then I would consider myself capable of advising a new medical librarian. At the moment, when people say to me that I’m the ‘expert’, I feel very nervous as I don’t feel that I’ve reached that level yet.

Further reading:

LIScareer.com – Mentoring page
There is a lot here, mostly targeting new librarians. I’ll read these later and comment here.

How to Find a Mentor
There is a problem loading this page so I am reading a cached copy courtesy of Google Chrome. Ok, some good points here, especially regarding finding a mentor who will coach and help you overcome your weak points. I think you may also need a mentor to help you find out what these weak points are as personal feelings may cloud judgement.

Effective Mentoring
doi: 10.1177/0340035209105672
IFLA Journal June 2009 vol. 35 no. 2171-182
I’ve noticed that the generational gap and the speed of retirement is a common theme in library papers, and not just in relation to mentoring. The interesting point of this article for me was why retired librarians are not more involved in mentoring. It would be perfect! Not only could retired librarians still be involved in the profession if they want to, they would be providing a valuable service and plus, get continued respect for their contribution and knowledge. This would follow a method used in medicine. Retired clinicians attend some of the meetings I go to (audit and grand rounds) and provide valuable input and feedback to interns. Why not develop a similar program?

Sharing program: The Big-Boy Boomeroo of mentoring
Carrye Syma and Cynthia Henry
C&RL News March 2009, pp 178-180
Again with the generational gap! The library profession is not unique in this regard and I wonder if this fixation is. Are other professions as concerned with the generational gap as librarians seem to be? There are always going to be new people coming any profession you care to mention. However, academic streams for this profession don’t seem to change that much over time – all that is different is new technologies and perhaps new ways of working. However, a really fine take-home point for me: mentoring is a two way street.

Revitalizing a Mentoring Program for Academic Librarians
Diana Farmer, Marcia Stockham, and Alice Trussell
College and Research Libraries, July 2009, pp 8-24
An interesting paper with lots of detail about this particular program provided in the appendixes. However, no literature review, just a mention that one had been done. As I work in a small library with 9 employees, this program isn’t applicable, but there are some very good take home points: mentors must be volunteers; there must be guidelines to frame the mentor/mentee relationship; continual program evaluation and improvement must take place. This has given me some ideas though. What if our local health libraries network set up a mentoring program?

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