The SCLS director mentoring program involves assigning an experienced SCLS library director to mentor a new library director. New library directors are of course free to seek out their own advisors and mentors—whether within or outside of the SCLS community, or even outside of the field of librarianship. The mentorship program is meant to supplement these informal relationships.
The SCLS Continuing Education Consultant meets with all new library directors within the first month of their directorship. The CE Consultant will inform them of the name and contact information for their assigned mentor.
Duties of the Mentor:
Assigned mentors are asked to make a one-year commitment to the mentorship, although in many cases the mentoring relationship may last much longer, even throughout the course of their careers. The only other thing required of the mentor is to contact the new director regularly, and to be open to their questions and requests. Monthly contact is recommended, whether by email, telephone, or in person.
There are no set activities a mentor must undertake. The actual interactions will be determined by the individuals involved, as the relationship develops. The following is a list of just some of the possible actions:
- Get together for coffee
- Get together for lunch
Face to face meetings:
- Arrange to meet up at state library conference(s)
- Carpool to conferences, meetings, and/or workshops
Touch base when you’re doing certain director-type things, to make sure the new director is aware of them, and answer their questions (or refer them somewhere else to get answers). For example:
- Wisconsin public library annual report
- Budget preparation
- Budget presentation/request to municipality
- Database subscriptions/renewals
- Requesting payments from adjacent counties
- Reading/responding to important emails and/or surveys from SCLS staff
- Arranging for training or in-service days for your staff
- Upcoming county library meetings
- SCLS cluster meetings
- SCLS get-togethers such as All Directors meeting, Continuing Education Programs, etc. (also an opportunity to carpool)
- Register for events such as WLA Annual Conference, WAPL Conference, and Library Legislative Day. Offer to carpool.
- Apply for CE funds from SCLS
- (If applicable) Discuss certification course they’re currently taking—how’s it going? Any questions?
- Any issues, questions they’re encountering in their library?
- Do they have up-to-date policies, procedures, strategic plan, etc.?
The mentor is not expected to know the answers to all of the new director’s questions but should be able to help refer them to other people and resources for answers. Here’s a nice list of qualities that make a good mentor, from the Nebraska Library Commission.
If you are interested in becoming a mentor for a new director, please contact Jean Anderson.
For more information about public library management, contact Tracie Miller.