Mentor, Mentees, Mentotum*

ALSC recently sent out a survey from their Emerging Leader team on being mentored and being a mentor. This tells me that our division is deep in thought on setting up what I hope will be a truly valuable opportunity for all the members: to be a mentor or a protege.

I seldom meet youth librarians who haven't been profoundly affected in their careers by the advice, good counsel and wisdom of a mentor who has guided, suggested - and sometimes pushed - them in the direction of doing better work and opening doors to better opportunities.  We all know those people who give and share and help others reach a higher level of understanding and leadership because of their support.

Mentor/protege relationships don't always involve an oldster and a young thing. Peer-to-peer mentoring works well and is often most visible between cohorts on social media sites (Twitter, Friendfeed, ALA Think Tank on FB among others).  As someone in the twilight of my career, I can say that mentors still guide me and are often younger than I am.  I get inspired by their enthusiasm and learn much in the way of new tech tips and ways to re-look at work through new eyes.

Without mentorship and encouragement, I would never have stepped so far up in ALSC or been awarded the WI Librarian of the Year honor, or been given the opprtunities in my career that I have been given. The wise counsel of my peers, colleagues, veteran librarians (in all fields and disciplines) informed my work and gave it a richness that I could never have achieved on my own.

I have been fortunate in being asked to be a mentor for much of the last fifteen years.  I find that I learn as much as I share.  There is never an end to what can be discovered on any given day, at any given time, from any given person working with youth in libraries.  I find it humbling, energizing and exciting. I hope I have been encouraging to folks in the profession and helped them step up and out in leadership positions within their libraries, communities and the profession.

Informal mentoring/proteging has been the path I've mostly taken. But there are more formal relationships. My state association has a great mentoring program for new leaders, WeLead, that I have been a mentor for. ALAConnect has a mentoring platform, MentorConnect.  And now ALSC is going to step up with opportunities. I hope ALSC members keep an eye out and volunteer both as mentors and proteges.  The benefits are amazing!

Image: 'I wanna hold your hand'  http://www.flickr.com/photos/10488545@N05/1865482908

*Sorry about this title. It's the old Latin conjugator rearing its head and I am never able to resist joking around with this!

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