She is now several years into her first full-time job with a public library. She worked with me as part-time staff, she worked at a large university and a public library while getting her MSLIS and she shocked me.
“You were the last mentor I had.”
Really? Our younger/newer librarians have just as much need for mentoring as I had when I began my career. Our mentors are our teachers of so much including value.
Professional associations, employers, and managers should not complain about the lack of engagement by “the younger generation” if the members of these classes are sitting on their laurels rather than being engaged. My mentors taught me much including the value of active participation in associations, reading the news and being proactive. Those are just three examples of the things that I learned that contributed to my success. I would not have understood the value of those actions if my mentors had not taken the time to share their knowledge.
We, current managers, thought leaders and professionals must step up and mentor. Everyone recognizes that mentoring doesn’t have to be formal. It can be as simple as having a conversation over lunch or coffee. However, it can’t be done as an afterthought as you are heading out the door and clearly have other places you would rather be. The mentee knows when you are engaged with them and are committed to their growth and success. Dedicate the time to have conversations.
So, all of this complaining about new librarians not engaging might benefit from a look in the mirror. How engaged are we? Are we taking the time to impart the things we were taught by our own mentors? Are we sharing the tips and tricks we learned when we started on our own professional paths? The need is definite and the value will be seen as long as we take the time to share the gems we have learned. Institutional knowledge, professional competence and future innovations depend upon the development of new librarians.
Sitting on the sidelines in this critical time is not an option. So, as one of my first mentors said long ago:
“Put on your lipstick, straighten your blouse, stand up straight and go do this.”