Roy Tennant just posted a marvelous set of advice for new(er) librarians in Library Journal. To riff on his points, allow me to remind my Gentle Readers of my post about mentoring from 2008 (and if you liked that post, also see this one, about how mentoring was key to restoring my faith in myself during a rough time).
Tiny Objection: Roy says he hasn’t had time for what he calls the “pain” of “governance” (ALA committee work), and yet his first piece of advice is to find “fellow travelers.” Roy, not surprisingly, has forged his own path and peer groups independent of complex organizations; that’s one of his gifts. But we aren’t all Roys.
If ALA serves any core value at all to new librarians, it is to give them a place to build peer relationships, learn teamwork, find out what they value in their peers, and mingle with people who are at various places in their professional lives. This is truer than ever before, thanks to our ability to connect in almost-real-time with librarians worldwide.
Tiny Observation: I say this in my 2008 post, but let me reiterate that it’s key for bosses to understand that they nearly always cannot be a real mentor to their own employees, nor can they find these relationships for their staff. Bosses can coach, lead, inspire, guide, and encourage, but mentoring is something else altogether.
What bosses CAN do is…
- Encourage the activities that lead to mentoring opportunities — even if you’re broke, there are many opportunities. You just have to find them;
- Be mentors to others outside their organizations — to sharpen their self-awareness of what their own staff are going through (and no matter how good you are, that adjustment phase is hard, just as it is for any job); and,
- Be the best boss you can be — which is something I’m focusing on these days, since it is part and parcel of my goal to have MPOW become the best small private library in California. Part of my journey is through a workbook called “Be a Great Boss,” which was gifted to me by a librarian colleague. This book has a Facebook group as well (closed–not sure why) and I’ve just posted my first week’s efforts.
P.S. One last must-read: Linda Absher’s post about what makes librarianship worthwhile (spoiler alert: because we’re all about continuity, sharing, empathy, and long term preservation of the cultural record).