Sunday, 7 August 2011

CPD23 Thing 11

Image taken by Nivermind
Thing 11: Mentoring
I am a b-i-g fan of the mentoring process, having experienced it from both sides. I find it extremely useful and a great way of learning new things (whether I’m the mentor or mentee).

My first experience of being a mentor was in the final year of my undergrad degree. I signed up to the university’s Peer Guide scheme where I was assigned 5 first year students to act as a mentor to. I was quite shy at the time, so I didn’t make as much of it as I should have, but I enjoyed what I did. However, retrospectively I do feel a tad guilty that I didn’t do a better job for those kids.

Two years ago, I acted as a ‘buddy’ to a new school librarian. She’d never worked in a school before and felt a little lost, so I volunteered to help. We discussed all manner of topics relating to school libraries, and looking back, I think we both got quite a bit out of it. It felt good to share knowledge/resources and help somebody feel less alone. It also helped beef up my chartership portfolio!

And that brings me to my experience of being the mentee, rather than the mentor. One of the requisites of chartering is that you have a mentor. I chose one from the list provided by Cilip and it really helped me find my way through chartership. I found the process confusing but having a mentor at hand who had already been through it really helped clarify things.

During my very first library post, 8 years ago now, one of the senior assistants took me under her wing. She taught me lots of things about libraries and we developed a close relationship. Averil Pearson was the focus of a Library Hero column I wrote for Cilip’s Library and Information Gazette.

Having recently changed sector, I am nobody’s mentor; I don’t have enough knowledge and experience in this field. I don’t have a mentor myself at the moment, though I must admit to practically stalking a fellow FE librarian I know, bombarding her with questions and emails when I first started my new job! After a few weeks she seemed reluctant to offer assistance; I think I may have imposed too much, which can be a potential problem with mentoring relationships – unofficial ones especially.

Simply put, I find both sides of the mentoring process to be one of my favourite ways of learning new things. As well as increasing knowledge it can help bolster confidence, and if you’re shy like I am that’s a pretty big thing. Although I am not part of such a scheme at the moment (officially or unofficially), I do hope it will one day feature again in my career.



  1. PS. Sorry it is such a long and wordy account folks!

  2. Your post is not too long. I enjoyed reading the honest accounts of your experiences as mentor and mentee.

  3. You may not realise it but you are my accidental mentor (and I mean that in a good way). When I started I had no guidance and was floundering a bit when you arrived and made sure a PPDP was put in place for me, have directed me to some useful websites and forums, bring me in your CILIP Gazette when your done with it (knowing that i can't yet afoord the fees!), forward on any training you spot and genrally give me encouragement and advice. All this and you actually started a month after me so for that i would like to say Thank-You.

  4. Oh Sam bless you! :) There is always so much to learn about libraries - I'll help you in any way I can. Not that I know everything of course, but what I do know I'm happy to share!