Information Outlook: January-February 2018

Surveys show that workers who have mentors, whether through formal, employer-sponsored programs or informally through personal or professional connections, are more likely to meet their goals and advance their careers than their co-workers who don’t. How can special librarians and information professionals, especially those whose employers do not sponsor mentoring programs, find and engage a mentor—or, conversely, find a fellow librarian who needs a mentor? The January-February 2018 issue of Information Outlook offers several perspectives on mentoring and its many benefits for both mentors and mentees.

Mentors and Sponsors: Making the Most of Both
Trish Foster
“Both sponsors and mentors offer guidance, make introductions, and provide feedback . . . To get the most out of sponsors and mentors, however, it is important to first recognize the similarities and differences between the two, which often get confused. Simply put: mentors build you up, sponsors move you forward.”

Getting Started as a Mentor
Holly Lakatos
“Even if you are an experienced and competent librarian, you may benefit from shifting roles from mentor to mentee several times over the course of your career—for example, when you start a new role within the library, adopt a new technology, or take on additional leadership responsibilities within the profession. Another advantage of shifting roles is that it will introduce you to a variety of individuals you may not otherwise get to know.”

None of Us Succeed On Our Own
Leslie J. Reynolds
“None of us succeed on our own or learn and grow in isolation. The people with whom you surround yourself will have a significant impact on your personal and professional success. The act of mentoring provides excellent opportunities to bring new people into your professional constellation and learn from them.”

Giving Back to the Library Community
James King
“Getting to know the mentees on a personal level—including their struggles, successes, and career goals—is important to building the trust required for a mentoring relationship. I’ve also found that being open to the mentees and encouraging them to provide feedback on how I’m doing as a mentor (and being responsive to their input) has also been valuable.”

Mentoring as an Iterative Process
Elizabeth Trudell
“Everyone’s experience with mentoring is different, and there are some people who have a few long-term or highly engaged mentors who profoundly shape their professional development. But I think there is a lot of value in seeking a series of smaller interactions with many different people. At a decision point in your life or career, gathering insights from people with different backgrounds and experiences can help you generate a truly creative approach to a problem or gain the confidence to change your career direction.”

The Power of Mentoring Circles
Dennie Heye
“Compared to traditional mentoring relationships, where one mentor is connected to one mentee, a mentoring circle allows you to learn from a wider range of people. Not only do you benefit from the senior leader, you also get feedback from your fellow mentees. Just listening to their opinions and experiences contributes to your own learning and development.”

Informal Mentoring Has Always Worked for Me
Karen Reczek
“Different people bring different perspectives to the relationship, and their disparate (or consensus) views can be helpful in influencing your decisions and furthering your professional growth. I feel blessed to have had a couple of good mentors during my career who have helped me clarify my career goals and identify my strengths and weaknesses. I still rely on these people today, and I know that some people rely on me the same way.”

Mentoring: A Win-Win Situation
Ruth Kneale
“I still call on my mentors for advice and stay in touch with those I was lucky enough to mentor. For me, all of these relationships have been successful, both because of what I learned and because I’ve been able to help others. It’s a situation I recommend pursuing—who knows how you might benefit from it, or how you might benefit others?”

Letting Go of Control
Tara E. Murray
“What made this mentoring relationship so successful for me was what [my mentor] did not do. He did not tell me how to run my library or attempt to control the library’s operation. Despite his own experience as a librarian, he stepped back and let me do my own thing, including making some mistakes along the way. This was crucial in helping me gain confidence in a position that, I soon learned, had a very high profile in the philatelic world.”

SLA Member Interview
Cynthia Sheffield
“While I was working on my final paper for my MBA, I paid a babysitter to watch my two small children at home on a beautiful Saturday so I could go to the Johns Hopkins Library on the Homewood campus to do research. Hopkins doesn’t have a library science program, but they have a huge collection of library science books. I found myself sitting on the floor in the stacks surrounded by about 30 books I had pulled from the shelves, by people like Carol Tenopir and all sorts of well-known library authors. I had been there for about 90 minutes when I realized I had taken this Alice in Wonderland-type dive into a rabbit hole, where I was fascinated and energized by what I was learning—instead of working on my final paper.”

Stay Current with Awareness Techniques
David Stern
“Researchers striving to remain current confront two big obstacles: their time is precious, and an enormous amount of information is released and published every day. In terms of discovery, each discipline has its own unique community characteristics and associated information-seeking behaviors . . . No wonder staying current with rapidly changing developments in research can be a complex endeavor!”

Catch Them While You Can
Karen G. White
“Most [new employee] orientations contain a fatal flaw: so much information is presented at one time that participants retain very little of it. For example, one study found that orientation participants typically remember only 15 percent of the material presented on the first day. If the orientation lasts several hours, with presentations from many different departments, you’ve got to make sure your message stands out.”

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