Volume 25, Number 3, 2003

ASCLA Identifies Mentoring as Critical and Begins Work

by: Elizabeth Ridler, Brooklyn Public Library and Chair of ASCLA's Ad Hoc Mentoring Task Force

The ASCLA Ad Hoc Task Force on Mentoring is beginning to develop a plan for finding and pairing librarians who have experience with appropriate mentees.

Where do librarians need ASCLA mentors? At conferences, mentors help mentees with orientation to conference programs, pitfalls, association structures, and networking opportunities. Frequently, there is a meet-and-greet formal orientation at the start of the conference for the target group: international librarians, new members, new committee members. Mentees meet mentors and also association leaders. Training for new officers/committee members can also be done by experienced committee members or former chairs. These mentors develop their own successors in the association and find members who bring “new blood” to the committees of the association. Mentees become better professionals and create experience on their librarian resumes. Communication between mentors and mentees may happen only at conference or can continue via phone and e-mail between conferences.

At library school, students need librarian mentors at library practicums, from library associations, and within the library school. ASCLA needs to reach out to library students while they are still in school in order to attract them to ASCLA and to the library work areas from which ASCLA draws its members—state libraries, library services for people with disabilities, prison libraries, or library consultants. ASCLA member Ellen Perlow is very active in promoting ASCLA to students at the School of Library and Information Science at Texas Woman’s University; she has also mentored Century Scholars;. ASCLA needs to mentor people with disabilities so they can enter the profession successfully; libraries need librarians that mirror their diverse populations.

Where can you find mentors? In person or online. The ALA New Members Roundtable (NMRT) offers mentoring guidelines, conference tips, conference and career mentoring, and resume review through its mentoring Web page where new members can find mentors to help with diverse professional needs: www.ala.org/nmrt. ALA NMRT is working on links to other mentoring sites.

Three New York organizations also offer online and face-to-face mentoring opportunities. The New York Library Association’s New Members Round Table has a mentoring website. The Rochester Regional Library Council has a formal mentor-mentee program, which could be a model for other systems. The New York Public Library New Librarians group has formal and informal mentoring within the system and also promotes library association memberships.

The Ad Hoc Mentoring Task Force will detail best mentoring practices in a future Interface article and will showcase state mentoring programs in a program at the Orlando ALA Annual Conference in 2004. For mentoring ideas, contact Elizabeth Ridler.