When I first arrived on campus, set to begin my career as a librarian, I was grateful to find that my college arranged a faculty mentor for me. Ten months later, I feel that the relationship has helped me with small adjustments. It was especially refreshing because my mentor is from the English Department and not the library. A couple of times a month we would get together for lunch and discuss not only what was going on in the library but around campus as well. It was an opportunity to gain feedback and opinions of the library from the faculty’s perspective. I have a mentor within the library as well, which made questions within our department easy to answer. The double-mentor approach was unique and I appreciated the conversations and assistance of both mentors. It has essentially permitted me to tackle some problems from two different angles, therefore allowing me to choose the best response. For other new librarians, if you do not have a mentor inside and outside of your library, I would recommend it. Not only do you develop relationships across the faculty, but you also gain insight into people’s needs and perceptions of the library.
4 thoughts on “Faculty Mentors for New Librarians”
How would you start such a program, if one is not available or if there shows to be no interest from management?
And just how does one get a mentor? In the library field they are few and far between. It is not students and those new to the field who need to be encouraged to find mentors, but professionals who need to be pushed to become mentors. Professionals need to, frankly, get off their duffs. My assigned faculty advisor in library school wouldn’t even meet with me…and that was his job.
I agree that mentorship is an extremely important aspect of helping new librarians become part of the library and also part of the institution. A good point that was brought up is that not every library or college has such a program in place (which they should in my opinion). That’s why it is important to seek out old professors, or, try something like this:
Many state associations also have new members mentors as well. The point is, there are things out there and sometimes you have to do a little searching to find it.
I agree with Eric’s comments in terms of finding a mentor outside of your current institution. ALA has advertised mentoring programs on several listservs. For within the library, I boldly asked another, more experienced, librarian if she would be my mentor; she agreed. I also regularly email an old professor when I need a sounding board on ideas.
In terms of starting a mentoring program, most ALA divisions have a mentoring program. You could use their existing programs as models. If your administration is hesitant, I would begin by pointing out the strengths of the program and the fact that it does not cost much but time. Also, point out that it does not have to take time away from the workday. My mentors and I currently meet over the lunch hour to talk.