Mentoring Experiences

As I hope you’ve heard, the BCLA Mentorship Program is now accepting applications until October 3.  The fall session will run for 8 weeks, from October 15 to December 10.  This program grew out of LTAS’ own mentoring program.  Our baby is growing up!

While I haven’t participated in a formal mentoring program – being in a gray area between new grad and experienced role model – I have done several informational interviews.  One was with a prospective Langara student met through LTAS, and one with a recent UFV grad met through SLA.  It was an honour to be asked and rewarding to offer tips from my experience.  Also, the interviewers’ questions inspired deeper reflection on my experience and new ways of thinking about our profession.

Several members kindly agreed to share their experiences…

Phil Menger:

My mentee experience was particularly helpful since I had just graduated from the LIBIT program.  Instead of just being set adrift to go it on my own I felt I was part of the the librarianship community.  The initial help I received from my mentor, Anita Thompson, greatly helped to ease the transition and encouraged me to become actively involved with LTAIG/LTAS and BCLA.

Anita Thompson:

It was a very enjoyable experience and mutually beneficial (I hope!).

Christina Neigel:

I had the pleasure of acting as a mentor to a library worker who was in the throes of making some very significant career decisions.  While we did correspond by email to get to know one another, we did end up meeting in person.  Although this is not always feasible for participants, it was a fantastic opportunity for us to really connect and discuss the pressures of the profession. Having had experience in various levels of library work, I was able to share my perspectives on library education and discussed things to ponder when thinking about continuing professional development.  We completed the session on a high note, with my mentee making a definitive decision about her own future and goals.

I enjoyed the opportunity to connect with someone interested in making some changes in her life and being able to share my 17 years of experience.  This pairing was an example of how mentorship can go beyond helping new professionals and can also provide worthwhile support to even those already immersed in the field.  It was a great experience

Shannon LeBlanc:

My experience with the mentor program was nothing but positive.  My mentor was Annelle Harmer, the Circulation and Office Manager at UBC Library, Woodward Library Circulation.  We communicated most frequently by email but we did have a couple of telephone conversations, and I learned a great deal from all of my communications with Annelle.  Since at that time I did not have a Library Tech position in a library, I did not have a lot of relevant and job related questions to ask;  most of what I needed to know at that time was around what type of work I might be able to find.  Annelle gave me a great deal of excellent advice on not only learning about what places Library Techs work in, but the varying kinds of work they do.  It was a wonderful experience for me to get a true ‘insider’s’ perspective on Library Tech responsibilities, far beyond the typical cataloguing or other Technical Services work we have learned about in our courses in the Library Tech diploma program I am finishing up now.

I just received an offer of fulltime permanent employment as  a Library Tech at Selkirk College, and I am sure that part of the reason I was able to be the recipient of this offer is because of the insights I gained from my conversations with Annelle.  I think that it is only a good thing when Library Techs work together to further the profession and mentor students and career aspirants like me.

Thanks so much for working on the program, and once I am settled, I would like to return the mentor service to other budding Library Techs!

Tamarack Hockin:

For those new to the profession — whether just graduating, returning after a long absence, or beginning a new position — mentorship is an opportunity to access support and feedback from colleagues in the field. Being a mentee will challenge you to start building your professional network and broadening your knowledge with the help of others’ expertise.
Those of us who have been in the profession for some years now have a responsibility to share the experience and skills we now have. Whether you are in your fifth year or your fifteenth — if you haven’t considered mentoring, perhaps now is the time. Being a mentor averages about one hour per week for a phone call, email or a coffee, and your commitment ends after only eight weeks.
The Mentorship Program exists to connect us with our colleagues in the field, but it is the mentors and the mentees who determine whether these connections will be successful. If you are motivated and passionate about your chosen career, please visit www.bcla.bc.ca/mentorship and find out how you can participate. Applications for the fall session close on October 3.

Please share your experience of mentoring or being mentored in the comments.

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One Response to Mentoring Experiences

  1. In 2010, I was a recently graduated mentee paired with an experienced mentor. Sarah was a very good match for me. We both were working at academic libraries, and had similar interests. I was in Vancouver and she was in Victoria, but she made herself very accessible to me through e-mail and phone chats, and a meeting in Victoria. She was very helpful to me with respect to career development, confidence building, and social support, as I navigated the field I had only recently entered. I believe the mentoring program can be helpful to anyone who is a library tech student, or a recent graduate.

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