Thursday, 11 August 2011

Mentors: half-horse, half-human, all badass

For the last 3 months, I have been under the formal mentorship of a kind liaison librarian called Jon, who works in the same library as myself. I know that MCLIP candidates are frequently advised to get a mentor from outside their own niche of librarianship if possible; whilst there are obviously benefits from having that breadth of experience, I feel I benefit from having frequent contact with my mentor, not just in meetings with an agenda to discuss (which we have every 4-6 weeks). I have found the relationship to be positive and useful so far; he sends me things which he thinks might help or interest me, and I bounce ideas off him and talk about job applications etc. I'm still working on drafting my PPDP, so we're not that far into the process yet, but from his discussions of work with his other current mentee I'm confident that we'll rub along nicely.

As for informal mentorship, I've had several people who I have found supportive over the last few years who deserve recognition here (I'm excluding tutors, as it's their job to be supportive and motivating!).

- My former line manager, Martin, was very helpful in letting me implement what I learnt when working in the evenings, and allowed me the opportunity to do several things which would generally be considered beyond my grade; there was a degree of laziness in his willingness to delegate, but it was helpful all the same!

- My current line manager, John, is helpful in much the same way, letting me take on tasks like staff training which would generally be carried out by someone in a supervisor position or higher. He has also been instrumental in arranging for several days of professional development leave to attend events with razor-thin relevance to  my current position.

- Finally, the much-maligned Maureen, who showed me the ropes from the off, quickly getting me up to speed with how libraries worked and what needs the stock had from staff, and has recently let me seize control of several of her projects to add to my project-leading experience.


A slightly negative post-script. One of the longest delaying factors in my beginning Chartership (aside from apathy) was finding a mentor. My experience of the CILIP mentor list was not a positive one, with the information out-of-date (one mentor reported to work for my service had been retired for a year at that point) and a relatively small amount of mentors available considering the size of, and amount of libraries in, the East Midlands. Looking at the list now, it is much improved, so maybe my timing was unlucky. Nonetheless, I emailed several people and got no responses which soured me on the idea of the MCLIP for a few months. So, if anyone is just starting this process, don't give up as easily as I did!

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