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Mentoring Resources & Best Practices

ISU Library Mentoring Program - resources, guidelines, & best practices

Welcome!

Welcome! This Guide supports the ISU Library's Mentoring Program for new librarians.  You'll find here mentoring goals, resources, information, tips, and more.  Even if you are not a participant in our Mentoring Program, you'll still find useful resources and information here.  This guide is a work in progress - do feel free to suggest additional resources!

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For questions or comments on this Guide, please contact Susan Vega García.

Goals & Objectives

The primary goals of the University Library's Mentoring Program are to help new academic librarians during their post-onboarding process at the Library and ISU, to help them gain understanding of the components of success toward promotion, to listen to the mentee's career goals, projects, and needs and provide support when necessary, and to provide new librarians with an objective and experienced source for information and resources for their professional success. "New" librarians is an inclusive term that means everything from new librarians entering their first professional library position to experienced librarians who are new hires at ISU Library. Regardless of where you're at on that continuum, we encourage all new librarians to get a mentor through participating in the Mentoring Program.

Duration: Formal mentoring relationships through the Mentoring Program may last through the first promotion process. Mentees should keep in mind that their mentor can be a useful consultant when preparing to go up for promotion, or preparing a manuscript for publication.  If one or both parties need to end the partnership sooner, for whatever reason, partners should discuss openly and come to mutual agreement.  Should this occur, please realize it's no one's "fault."  Mentees should, however, contact Susan Vega García, the mentoring program supervisor, to arrange for another mentor.

Thus, mentors and mentees in the Library's Mentoring Program discuss and work together on post-orientation / onboarding questions; professional development; promotion issues; personal issues and Library climate; issues related to service involvement, conference presentations, research, writing, and publishing, and any issues that promote the mentee's career goals.

Program Guidelines

Mentee Eligibility:  Librarians new to the ISU Library are eligible to participate in the Mentoring program, regardless of their entry rank.  All "new to ISU" librarians are strongly encouraged to participate.

Mentor Eligibility:  All librarians with rank of Library II or higher are eligible to serve as potential mentors.  Potential mentors must exhibit positive attitudes about working at ISU Library and ISU and have good interpersonal skills.  Mentors must commit necessary time and energy to the mentoring partnership!  Ordinarily, mentors will be of a higher rank than their mentee in order to ensure informed guidance and discussions on promotion as well as professional development. Thus, a Librarian I would typically be mentored by a Librarian II or higher, and so on. Ordinarily, mentors will not be the mentee's direct supervisor. The supervisor will already be meeting with the mentee, and one of the goals of the mentoring program is to widen the professional network of "new to ISU" librarians and provide access to objective, experienced, and informed professional staff.

Note that as our program develops, we may adjust these guidelines.

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Getting Started:  What should you do when beginning a mentoring partnership?  Please consider this short list:

  • Establish a meeting schedule:  Our own program assessment 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 should be 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. Mentors should listen, ask questions, and offer objective information and support. 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. 
  • 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. Our own program assessment 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! 

Program Assessment:  The Mentoring Program coordinator will distribute a short anonymous survey to all Mentoring Program participants at various times during the year to assess how things are going. Your participation is strongly encouraged so that we can gain a full picture of program needs. Please also feel free to contact the Mentoring Program coordinator at any time with any questions or need for support.