Mentoring (cpd23 Thing 11)

When I started teaching elementary school in the early 1990s, new public school teachers were assigned a mentor teacher. Cathy B. was a wonderful mentor: experienced, innovative, and good-humored. I continued to consult with her throughout my six years of teaching.

Since I’ve made the career switch to libraries, I’ve never had a formal mentor, someone I’ve asked to fill those shoes. I’ve found, however, that many librarians are very willing to discuss questions and give advice on issues beyond the day-to-day work. My supervisor, who doesn’t have an MLS–but that’s a non-issue as far as I’m concerned, is very sharp in the ways of department management and cataloging, and she’s been so supportive of my going back to school (and all things professional development).

Since January 2011, I’ve had the pleasure of supervising several field placement students from the library school I’ll start attending in a couple of weeks. I’ve really enjoyed working with them, and I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing some resumes and serving as a reference a couple of times. Working with the NC Central library students has been a two-way street, as they’ve mentored and encouraged me on the GRE-taking and application process.

Working in a large academic library, I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting and occasionally working with librarians and staff from other departments, and I’ve really enjoyed learning about their work, as well as their library school experiences and career paths.  I’ve shared my library school journey with a few of my coworkers, and have really appreciated their encouragement and advice.



About Lesley Looper

I'm a full-time library employee. I enjoy reading, photography, travel, blogging, and geocaching.
This entry was posted in Getting Ready, Library Science, MLS, Professional Development, Work and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Mentoring (cpd23 Thing 11)

  1. I worked as a teacher for six years too. I wonder if many library students have a background in education.

    Do you feel like a mentor isn’t necessary to learn everything you want?

  2. Lesley says:

    Small world, Evelyn! What did you teach? I taught 2nd grade mostly, but some 1st grade too.

    My gut feeling is that we can’t learn everything from one mentor like we can’t learn everything from one professor or one class. What are your thoughts?

    • I taught middle school, 5th-8th grade, Social Studies, Writing, English, & Literature.

      I would like to have a mentor, similar to the mentor I had the first two years I was teaching. It was just nice, but after those two years I found other teachers and administrators who were helpful in my professional development. I want the best of both worlds! 🙂

      • Lesley says:

        Having a formal mentor is awesome! I find that librarians are generally very helpful people, it’s like it’s hardwired in them! 🙂 I like having a wide range of people to ask for advice about the profession, but I haven’t bonded with a librarian for a more formal mentoring relationship yet. You’ve inspired me to be more on the lookout.

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