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Mentoring Resources & Best Practices

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


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.

[This Guide removed from public view in May 2023 and is no longer being updated. Content by svg]

Goals & Objectives

The primary goals of the University Library's Mentoring Program are to help new academic librarian I's and II's during their post-onboarding process at the Library and ISU, and to provide support in developing sense of belonging and inclusion, developing and achieving career goals, building one's network, and addressing issues of interest / concern and components of success toward promotion.  Mentees should be encouraged to take an active role in mentoring meetings to focus on their needs and goals. Mentors should listen to the mentee's issues, career goals, projects, and needs and provide support / guidance as necessary, as well as provide new librarians with an objective and experienced source for information and resources for their professional success. 

  • Thus, mentors and mentees in the Library's Mentoring Program discuss and work together on post-onboarding / orientation questions; professional development; promotion issues; personal issues, psychosocial needs, library & community climate; issues related to service involvement, conference presentations, research, writing, and publishing, and any issues that promote the mentee's career goals.
  • "New" librarians is an inclusive term that means everything from new Academic Librarian I's entering their first professional library position to experienced librarians who enter as Academic Librarian II 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: As of March 2023, formal mentoring relationships through the Mentoring Program are intended to last a full calendar year with the option to continue for a 2nd year. After formal mentoring concludes, mentees should keep in mind that their mentor can still be a useful consultant on professional issues, preparing a manuscript for publication, etc. 

  • 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 / mentors should contact Susan Vega García, the mentoring program supervisor, to report the partnership has concluded, to arrange for another mentor and/or to assist in working through the situation satisfactorily.

Program Guidelines

Mentee Eligibility:  Academic Librarian I's and II's new to the ISU Library are eligible to participate in the Mentoring program.  All "new to ISU" librarians are strongly encouraged to participate.

Mentor Eligibility:  In FY23, the library changed its promotion process for Academic Librarians. To a small extent, this may impact eligibility requirements for serving as a mentor in the library's Mentoring Program. As of this writing (March 22, 2023), eligibility requirements remain as follows: Librarians who have successfully gone through the ISU library's promotion process and have achieved a rank of Librarian II or higher, or are faculty librarians, are eligible to serve as potential mentors. Alternatively, interested librarians who enter as AL III or higher can also elect to serve as a mentor without having yet completed their own first promotion at ISU Library. Potential mentors must exhibit positive attitudes toward helping new librarians navigate this new environment and have good interpersonal skills. Mentors must commit necessary time and energy to the mentoring partnership! Ordinarily, mentors in the program will be of a higher rank than their mentee, and must have successfully gone through the library's promotion process 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. For the same reason, mentors and mentees need not be in the same department or division.

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 scheduleOur 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! 
  • Helpful Resources: Beginning in Summer 2022, mentees receive their own copy of The Mentee's Guide and mentors receive a copy of The Mentor's Guide. Both parties should consult these books and discuss ideas, goal setting, areas of interest, and other agreements that align with the program's best practices.

Program Assessment:  The Mentoring Program supervisor will periodically check-in with mentoring partners; assessment surveys to all Mentoring Program participants have also been conducted in 2019 and 2022 via short anonymous surveys to assess how things are going. Participants should also reach out to the Mentoring Program supervisor anytime with questions, need or support, suggestions for improvement, anything! Your openness and participation in assessment and improvement is strongly encouraged so that we can continually improve.