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January is National Mentoring Month

January is National Mentoring Month

By Stephanie (Sara Leah) Gross (revised)

I just returned from an innervating session with 40 council members at the annual mid-winter conference.  Of course, there were the usual deliberations about  budget, convention expenditures and ratifications of past minutes. However, there were some much-awaited proposals for innovations to increase our membership as well as make AJL a more-valuable resource to its members.

  • Michelle Chesner, RAS Secretary, pushed for more inclusion of library science students, including possible free membership for them.  She related how her internship at NYU’s dual-master’s program with a qualified mentor shaped her future in the profession.  I have long been involved with library students, from my early days in the New York Library Club, and most recently with my own networking group (NY Librarians Meetup Group).  Now, I was finally hearing multiple voices who wished to propel this idea into action.  Although still in its infancy, I was given to understand that there will be collaboration among at least a few committees:  the Task Force, RAS, SSC and Mentoring.

  • Professional development and continuing education: To be honest, such collaboration  will be a challenge for our organization, where many members have been out of library school for considerable time.  Not to worry, there are great plans for professional development and continuing education, including podcasts, webinars and wikis. I requested that any members who had a desire to include mentorship in their work contact me so that we may get down to business as soon as possible.

  • Internships and grants: Michelle also described possible initiatives concerning student internships as well as IMLS (Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) grants.  The former will certainly help draw new members as well as the much needed “fresh blood”  to maintain our momentum.

  • We were given a preview of the new web site which is scheduled for its roll-out in February. In addition to being able to edit our committee pages more easily than in the past, committee chairs may be able to set up their profiles, included headshots and social media links.  For those interested in networking and establishing appropriate visibility, these improvements will be a boon, especially to our new members.

  • I hope to sponsor a Mentor Mingle at the Montreal convention, but must remind all chapters and divisions that mentoring is a processes that is mutually beneficial to those involved, from the individuals to the association itself.  It is a perk of membership that is at times under-used, and we must be vigilant that we do not lose sight of our mission as educators to share, support and encourage newcomers to our group and to our organization.

  • As Chair of the Mentoring Committee, I’m hoping that my committee will be more effective to members in “far-flung” corners of the world where access to Judaica librarians is challenging.  I hope to use my space on the web for telecommunication, such as Skype, Instant Messaging, and perhaps even group events on social media such as Facebook or Second Life.  If there are individuals out there who would like to be included in this initiative, please contact me at AJLMentoringATgmail.com.  Until that time, do make a point of visiting my page on the AJL wiki dedicated to social media for librarians.  Look it over and please send me feed-back. We will all benefit from that.


New Book on Mentoring: Now, onto a special “shout-out” for a new book on mentoring by  ALA.  The title is aptly, Mentoring in the Library:   Building for the Future by Marta K. Lee. I must say that it certainly met my expectations from the first peek at the Introduction.  I  learned of this book through an ALA newsletter alert on new publications and immediately purchased it online (ISBN 9780838935934 ; $50.)  It arrived in the mail just today, and I thought “How marvelous! Just in time for my blog post!  The book itself is a mere 122 pages, replete with chapters devoted to enumerating the kind of skills a mentor should have, with techniques for successful development, education and training.  Also included are guidelines for establishing formal and informal mentoring arrangements, with a chapter devoted to mentoring librarians electronically.  The book flap boasts “In this useful book, Lee shows librarians how mentoring can be both personally satisfying and a path to career development.”  Besides the requisite bibliography and index, this handbook includes appendices with forms for requests, proposals, and promotion review timetable .  Of interest, too, are the case studies from two academic institutions.  However, both volunteers and school librarians are given space, so those who are not planning mentorship in RAS will still wish to give this volume and careful read.  Finally, the book jacket suggests other related titles, such as Coaching in the Library:  A management Strategy for achieving excellence 2nd ed. By Ruth F. Metz and Succession planning in the library:  Developing leaders, managing change by Paul M Singer with Gail Griffith.  These books may be order at www.alastore.ala.org or 866.746.7252!

Happy Mentoring! Remember to send your stories, lessons learned, and feedback to be shared with others.  Look for me, too, on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.  I often post to AJL, but have my own Twitter account (NYLibrarians).  Other contact information:  ajlmentoring AT gmail.comSkype: Stephanie.L.Gross.  Best of luck to you all in 2011!  I plan to be at the convention in June, so do send me ideas for sessions or general ideas for PR and outreach.  You need not be a library student, and librarians in transition as well as newly-minted librarians are warmly encouraged to become involved.

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