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Librarian Mentoring Program

Guidelines, resources and best practices

Setting the Foundation

Establish a meeting schedule: 

The research shows that mentors and mentees are most satisfied with mentoring when they have set up a meeting schedule, and particularly when they meet frequently. This stands to reason as the mentoring partnership involves getting to know one another and developing mutual trust. Plan to meet at least once per month, and honor those scheduled meetings.  Make time and devote energy to your mentoring partnership!

Respect confidentiality: 

Both parties may feel some vulnerability in getting to know one another or sharing career goals and information. Remember that you are building trust in your mentoring partnership. Talk about respecting confidentiality early, and honor your commitment.

Roles & Responsibilities: 

Both parties should take an active role in building the partnership. 

Mentees have an active role and are encouraged to direct meeting agendas and conversations to areas on which they need information, problems or challenges they may be experiencing, career issues they need help or guidance with, and so on.  To get the most out of your mentoring partnership, you will need to communicate your goals and challenges to your mentor.  Be open to receive and accept feedback.

Mentors listen, ask questions, and offer objective information, support and feedback. It's okay to switch roles now and then and have mentors take the lead, but mentors should remember their primary role is to serve the needs and interests of the mentee.  Be open and receptive to discussing organizational climate, personal topics, or difficult conversations as many mentees need to talk or know about these. Make referrals as necessary.

What should we talk about? 

Anything relevant or of interest to the mentee!  If mentees aren't already sure what to talk about, mentors should feel free to explore common issues of orientation, professional development, Library climate, how the mentee is settling in, service or conference involvement, planned conference attendance and presentations, committee involvement, the components of annual review promotion, setting professional goals, and related topics. Research shows that mentors and mentees are most satisfied when many topics are covered in some depth. Library climate, understanding academia, and personal issues also matter.  Don't be afraid to broach new topics, or to inquire about things that haven't yet come up.  We know of mentoring partnerships that have socialized together, or even gone shopping together to help the mentee get feedback on professional wardrobe!