The College Library Directors' Mentor Program
Table Of Contents
- How did the College Library Directors' Mentor Program get started?
- What is the purpose of the program?
- How does the program accomplish its purpose?
- What is the nature of the relationship between the Mentor and the First-Year Director?
- What are the responsibilities of the participants?
- Who are the First-Year Directors?
- Who are the Mentors?
- How is the program supported?
- How much does the program cost?
- How are the fees used?
- How many First-Year Directors participate each year?
- How does one qualify for the program?
- Are there other activities related to the program?
- Will my new Dean support the program?
- How can I obtain more information about the program?
- First-Year College Library Directors (Current Year)
The program had its beginnings in an informal conversation during an American Library Association conference sometime in the late 1980s. A dinner conversation among Mignon Adams, Sandy Ready, Anne Commerton, Larry Hardesty, Michael Kathman, and Jackie McCoy led to a discussion of their preparation, or lack thereof, for the college library director position. The following year, Jackie McCoy, as chair of the College Libraries Section of ACRL, created an ad hoc College Leadership Committee with Larry Hardesty as chair. Caroline Coughlin, Evan Farber, Bart Harloe, Carolyn Sheehy, and Mary Sellen initially served on the committee. Damon Hickey soon joined this committee as a replacement for Mary Sellen. For the full story of the beginnings of the program see: Larry Hardesty, "College Library Directors' Mentor Program: 'Passing It On:' A Personal Reflection," The Journal of Academic Librarianship 23 (July 1997): 281-290.
The program began because leaders of the College Libraries Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) saw a need to enhance leadership capabilities of new college library directors and to help them meet the challenges involved in directing libraries in small colleges. This program meets this need by fostering a mentoring relationship with an experienced library director. First-year directors gain access to someone who will listen to their problems and questions and provide feedback and possible solutions.
There are three major components to the program. The first element is matching the first-year college library director with an experienced college library director. This is to provide the first-year director with an experienced "listener" who wants to "help" but not "tell." Each director is to visit the other director's library at least once during the year. The first visit should be made very early to establish a firm foundation for the relationship. The program cannot support the costs of long distance travel, and distance can impede the needed interaction. Therefore, usually the two directors are within a three to four hours driving time from each other; however, individuals can be too close in geographical proximity, which can obstruct the development of a confidential relationship.
The second component of the program is a three-day seminar held prior to the American Library Association Midwinter Conference. Mignon Adams, retired Director of Library and Information Services of the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, leads the seminar. Tom Kirk, Emeritus Library Director and Coordinator of Information Services at Earlham College, and Larry Hardesty, retired library director (who served during his career as library director at Austin College and Eckerd College), assist Mignon in leading the seminar. Planning, campus politics, and staffing issues are examples of topics covered in previous seminars. While particular topics vary with the interests of the participants (Mignon polls the participants each year prior to the conference), all relate to how to deal successfully with the challenges at a small college. A major goal of the seminar is to form a bond among the participants which facilitates the creation of a network that the participants can rely on in future years.
The third component of the program is a closed Internet discussion group. Larry Hardesty maintains a closed discussion group on the Internet (hosted by ALA) available only to participating first-year college library directors and the mentors. About 200 librarians participate in this discussion group. One of the chief advantages of this discussion group is the collegiality of the participants. Since they have all gone through a similar experience, questions and comments are freely put forth without fear of blame or reproach. Also, since the questions go to a closed group, a director knows the questions will not be read by his or her staff or supervisor.
The relationship varies depending on the needs of the first-year director. One requirement is that it should be a confidential relationship in which both parties can speak freely.
The first-year director must agree to participate in the seminar and meet with the mentor at least twice during the year. They must also provide a brief report after each meeting and at the end of the year to Larry Hardesty, the program's director. The experienced director also must agree to meet with the first-year director at least twice during the year. They must also provide a brief report after each meeting and at the end of the year to Larry Hardesty.
During the first 20 years of the program 295 first-year college library directors from 238 different institutions have participated. They include 93 men and 202 women. The participants come from colleges as varied as Carleton to Central Methodist and Tougaloo to Western State College of Colorado. The first-year participants represent forty-three different states.
During the first 20 years, 152 individuals have served as mentors, including 66 who had participated in the program originally as first-year library directors. In total, 381 unique individuals have participated in the program either as first-year directors or as mentors. The mentors represent 59 men and 93 women have served in this role.
Mentors are experienced college library directors willing to serve as good "listeners" and helpers. They come from colleges ranging from Amherst to Centre and Wofford to Wooster. During the first 18 years, 141 individuals have served as mentors, including 49 who had participated in the program originally as first-year library directors. In total, 363 unique individuals have participated in the program either as first-year directors or as mentors. The mentors represent 57 men and 84 women have served in this role.
During the first four years of the program, the Council on Library and Information Resources provided two, two-year grants. The Program is now self-supporting and relies on funds from the institutions of the participating first-year directors.
At present, $600 is required as an upfront cost to cover the seminar costs and the travel between the first-year director's and mentor's institutions. Some reduction is possible for small libraries with very modest budgets. In addition, travel to the seminar and housing and evening meals at the seminar are responsibilities of the participant. Costs of these items may range from $500 to $750, depending upon the distance of the first-year director from the seminar's location. This year the Mentor Program has a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to subsidize some of the costs of participation.*
*The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute’s mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas.
The fee is used for a variety of expenses related to the program. Both the first-year library director and the mentor are reimbursed for expenses involved in travel to each others institution, including meals and overnight stays (if necessary). The fee is also used for postage for the letters to the participants and the mentors. A large portion of the fee goes towards the expenses of the seminar, including meals at the seminar, travel and housing of the seminar leaders, preparation of materials and mailings, room costs (if any) of the meeting room at the host institution, and modest honoraria for those involved, including individuals at the host institution who often spend considerable time on local arrangements. The College Library Directors' Program is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization and the fees are intended to only cover expenses.
The maximum allowed in the program is usually fifteen, and participation each year has ranged from ten to seventeen.
The first criterion is for the individual to be in his or her very first year as a college library director. Participants may have served as library directors at other types of institutions, but the key qualification is they have not previously served as a college library director. The program is designed for library directors at small colleges, which usually means institutions of fewer than 3,000 students. Also, the participants must have a master's degree in library science from an ALA accredited library school.
Tom Kirk, one of the board members of the organization, has organized reunions of the participants at the ALA conferences. These reunions have proved a good avenue for participants from different years to meet each other and for mentors to meet other mentors and first-year directors.
Only your new dean can answer that question. However, in the past the individuals to whom new library directors report have been very responsive to the program. For the past several years the Council of Independent Colleges has allowed an announcement of the program to be sent out through its deans list serve. Many college library directors contact the program director as a direct result of their chief academic officer forwarding this e-mail to them. Chief academic officers want the library directors they hired to be successful. The success or failure of the library director can be a reflection on them, as well as a significant expenditure of time and money for the institution.
In addition, there may be a particular affinity between the library director's position and the chief academic officer's position. Both serve a variety of clientele (students, faculty, alumni, staff, etc.). Both usually have little formal training for their responsibilities. Both serve in somewhat isolated positions with few or no peers on campus with whom to consult or confide. Most astute deans will understand the advantages of the program.
Therefore, you should not be hesitant in bringing this program to the attention of your dean.
Larry Hardesty, the program's director, has written a history of the first several years of the program, see Larry Hardesty, "College Library Directors' Mentor Program: 'Passing It On:' A Personal Reflection," The Journal of Academic Librarianship 23 (July 1997): 281-290. Also, during the past several years various participants have written several articles in the CLS Newsletter. These articles can be accessed through the following links.
- Spring 1996
- Spring 1997 ("Mentor Program praised by member of "class of '96")
- Spring 1997 ("Mentor Program "class of '97" bonds at seminar")
Also Irene Herold’s (2012) dissertation, An Examination of the Leadership Program for College Library Directors Associated with ACRL’s College Libraries Section, includes the history of the program.
For additional information, contact the program co-directors, Melissa Jadlos, Library Director, St. John Fisher College (585-385-8164 or firstname.lastname@example.org) or Susan Barnes Whyte, Library and Media Services Director, Linfield College (503-883-2517 or email@example.com). The program is under the aegis of the College Libraries Section of the Association of College and Research Libraries.
You should feel free to contact current and former participants about the value of the program. The following is a list of first-year participants by year and institution at the time of participation. Some, of course, have moved on to other positions during the intervening years.
2012-2013 First-Year College Library Directors' Mentor Program
Lewis & Clark College
Rose-Hulman Instititute of Technology
New Hampshire Institute of Art
|Jennifer Gunter King
|Kathryn (Katie) King
Southern Nazarene University
John Carroll University
University of Redlands
|Anthony (Tony) White
Maryland Institute of Art
Southern Virginia University
Last Update: 30 April 2013
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