The Association for Library Collections and Technical Services (ALCTS) issued a call for participation in its new Mentoring Program earlier this year. I submitted a mentor application because I have enjoyed serving as a mentor at Rutgers and welcomed the opportunity to work with ALCTS’ early career librarians—who are amazing! I’m a proponent of mentorship opportunities since they are mutually beneficial to both parties and I’ve personally benefitted from past mentoring relationships. Here’s how the experience has been so far.
Background of the ALCTS Mentoring Program
The program resulted from the work of the ALCTS Leadership and Development Committee’s Mentoring Subcommittee, and runs from June 1, 2017 to April 30, 2018. The call for participation sought applications from those interested in serving as a mentor or mentee—or both.
The program’s goal are to
- develop strong leadership in the areas of librarianship covered by ALCTS (acquisitions, cataloging and metadata, collection management, continuing resources, and preservation and reformatting),
- support ALCTS members in developing professional skills,
- cultivate leadership and involvement in ALCTS,
- provide networking opportunities, and
- expand members’ professional learning circles.
The Requirements for Mentors and Mentees
The first cohort of mentors and mentees consists of 41 pairs of librarians who are working with assigned program liaisons. The program is fairly formal. Matches were based on mentees’ expressed interests and each pair must complete a mentoring agreement form that addresses matters such as expectations, including how much time will be committed to the relationship and how often and in what mode(s) the pair will communicate. The mentor and mentee were required to develop three goals and detail how the mentor can best assist the mentee in achieving those goals. The pairs are also required to participate in an online training program at the beginning of their mentoring relationship.
The time and effort that the Mentoring Subcommittee devoted to developing the program is evident through the resources they’ve made available, particularly the LibGuide (http://alcts.libguides.com/mentoring). Additionally, the program is based on a Mentoring Framework developed by the 2015 ALA Emerging Leaders. The program consists of four components for the matched pairs: planning, connecting, advancing, and transitioning.
What’s It Like?
I was thrilled to be selected for the program and very excited to learn with whom I had been paired. I’m also honored to be part of the program’s inaugural cohort. As instructed by our mentoring liaison, I reached out to my mentee right away with an email and we scheduled a phone call for later that week. We were both excited at the prospect of working together.
Our initial conversation included completing the mentoring agreement, setting three goals, and deciding how often we would communicate with each other. One of my mentee’s goals is to become more involved with publishing. She has some solid ideas, but has not had a chance to follow up on them and welcomed guidance. We typically talk two times a month, and she will share with me the manuscript of a paper on which she is working. Our formal relationship ends in April, which feels as though it’s quickly approaching. The last part of our relationship will be to determine next steps, and I anticipate that while this is the end of one phase of our relationship, it won’t be the end.
In my experience, mentoring is a mutually beneficial experience. In addition to guidance and advice I have provided to others, I, in turn, have learned things from mentees, which has helped me to develop my professional skills. For those who doubt the effectiveness of mentoring, consider this: Audrey J. Murrell, author of “Five Key Steps for Effective Mentoring Relationships,” indicates that research has shown that those individuals who have been mentored report higher salaries, more frequent promotions, greater job satisfaction, and are less likely to leave their jobs.