What is Mentoring?


Mentoring helps people achieve professional goals through a mostly informal, mutually beneficial process of information-sharing. Most often, a more experienced professional (often known as the “mentor”) is paired with a less experienced professional (often known as the “mentee”). The mentee benefits from the experience and knowledge of the mentor, and the mentor benefits from the fresh perspective of the mentee. A successful mentoring relationship is built on respect, confidentiality, and an understanding that one can always learn something new.

What is the purpose of the KLA Mentoring Program?

The purpose of the KLA Mentoring Program is to foster professional relationships and facilitate the exchange of ideas between Kentucky librarians. The Mentoring Program is also designed to help participants learn more about KLA.

What it is not: a job search program, an arbiter of workplace problems

Who can participate?

The only requirement for participation in the Mentoring Program is membership in KLA.

All KLA members are welcome to participate at any stage of their careers. For example, librarians who are new to Kentucky, support staff taking on new responsibilities, students interested in finding out more about the profession, and experienced librarians moving into positions with increased administrative functions might all find a mentoring program useful. KLA members at all levels of library experience are invited to share their experiences and expand their professional reach.

How does it work?

Mentors and mentees will fill out an application. Mentors and mentees will be partnered by the Mentoring Committee based on library type and professional experience or goals. The availability of mentors and mentees and the information provided on the applications will determine the partnerships made. The Mentoring Committee will introduce the mentor and mentee to one another via email and will check in periodically with the mentor/mentee partners over the course of the program to be sure things are running smoothly.

Meanwhile, the mentor and mentee are encouraged to contact each other and decide preferences for communication (email? phone? social media?) and frequency of communication. For example, monthly emails may work best for some pairs. The program is meant to be flexible and to be negotiated among the mentee and mentor to best suit their needs. Participants in the Mentoring Program are encouraged to settle on a communication strategy as well as individual goals early on in the program.

At the end of the program, all participants will be asked to participate in a program evaluation.

 

What are the qualifications and expectations of a mentor?

Mentor:

Qualifications

KLA member

Interested in using professional knowledge and experience to assist others in the profession

Expectations

Be actively involved for the duration of the program

Communicate with mentee regularly

Help mentee establish career-related goals and help mentee develop a plan to achieve them

Teach, listen, and advise

Develop a relationship with mentee built on courtesy, confidentiality, and respect

Introduce mentee to opportunities for service and professional development within KLA

Provide feedback to the Mentoring Program Committee at least once during the program

Role

Coach, guide, advisor

Sounding board

Encourager

Resource-sharer

Devil’s advocate

Learner

Active listener

 

Benefits

Using your professional knowledge and experience to help someone else

Enhancing skills in coaching and advising

Developing collegial relationships with KLA members

Professional pride

Greater understanding of current professional challenges experienced by others in career transition

Exposure to new professional practices and ideas

 

What are the qualifications and expectations of a mentee?

Qualifications

KLA member

Interested in seeking professional knowledge and experience to advance your career

Expectations

Be actively involved for the duration of the program

Communicate with mentor regularly

Establish career-related goals and work with mentor to develop a plan to achieve them

Learn, listen, and ask for advice

Be receptive to receiving unique professional perspectives and solutions from your mentor

Develop a relationship with mentor built on courtesy, confidentiality, and respect

Learn more about opportunities within KLA

Provide feedback to the Mentoring Program Committee at least once during the program

Role

Director of mentoring relationship

Primary question-asker

Action-taker

Self-reflective

Learner

Active listener

 

Benefits

Opportunity to learn from mentor’s knowledge, experience, and perspective 

Assistance with career goals

Time for professional reflection and self-analysis

Focus on problem-solving and communication skills

Developing collegial relationships with KLA members

Exposure to new professional practices and ideas


How much time is involved?

This program is a one year commitment. In terms of weekly or monthly time allotments, this program is intended to bend to the needs of the matched mentors and mentees. The time involved should be negotiated between mentor and mentee to be mutually satisfactory. As a baseline, we’d suggest communicating once a month, but some may find that more or less contact is preferable. 

  Who oversees this program? Who can I contact with questions?

The KLA Mentoring Committee is responsible for creating and updating application forms, program guidelines, and other program content. The committee matches mentors and mentees and evaluates the program at its conclusion each year by collecting feedback.

If you ever feel like the program isn’t working for you, or maybe you would like to have a different mentor, please don’t hesitate to contact one of the Mentoring Committee members. We are here to help make the program responsive to your needs, and all information is kept confidential.

Mentoring resources

Crumpton, Michael A. 2011. “Mentoring in Tough Financial Times.” Bottom Line: Managing Library Finances 24 (1): 51-54.

Freedman, Shin. 2009. “Effective Mentoring.” IFLA Journal 35 (2): 171-82.

Garvin, David A., and Joshua A. Margolis. “The Art of Giving and Receiving Advice.” Harvard Business Review, January-February 2015 (https://hbr.org/2015/01/the-art-of-giving-and-receiving-advice)

Other mentoring programs within ALA: http://www.ala.org/transforminglibraries/mentoring-opportunities