The International Librarians Network has published a research report Rethinking mentoring: Online, international peer mentoring with the International Librarians Network that redefines peer mentoring and demonstrates how mentoring programs can be expanded into online, global spaces. In this excerpt from the report, we share a case study between two participants:
It is difficult to demonstrate the true impact of the ILN in facts and figures as the program focuses on creating engaging human experiences. The case study of Jenny Mustey illustrates the kinds of relationships that can develop through participation in the ILN.
Jenny Mustey is a mid-career librarian who manages a public library network in a rural area in south-east Australia called Campaspe. Jenny is responsible for running five branches and a handful of additional service points. Jenny joined the ILN because she was eager to reach across into the international space and further her networks.
Jenny was an early adopter of the ILN model, participating in the pilot program and several rounds since. Jenny has been partnered with participants in Afghanistan, Canada, The Maldives, and New Zealand. Some of these partnerships felt more traditional, in that Jenny was the more senior figure, but Jenny reported learning something from each pairing.
In 2015 Jenny was matched with Rose from Pennsylvania, USA. They got along remarkably well – they were in touch most days. Rose is in a similar position to Jenny, but in a smaller library network and a little further on in her career. Jenny established a close connection with Rose and they frequently discussed their respective funding and planning challenges. Jenny found it eye-opening to learn about the nature of public library funding in countries comparable to her own. They often shared workplace ideas, and sent things to each other that might be of interest. Rose was completing a leadership course, and they discussed the course contents together.
Rose and Jenny wrote each other long emails about their work, but also often shared short messages over social media, such as wishing someone luck for a difficult task ahead. Jenny and Rose have remained in contact since concluding the program, and Jenny says that she can envisage visiting Rose one day, and feels like she’s made a friend on the other side of the world.
Based on the anecdotal evidence from the program as a whole, Jenny’s experiences are representative of those of the wider ILN community. Not all partnerships achieve the synchronicity that Jenny and Rose established, however even in partnerships where there is seemingly little in common there are opportunities for learning and development. In both cases, consistent communication created an environment that established trust and facilitated knowledge sharing.
Rethinking mentoring: Online, international peer mentoring with the International Librarians Network is available now at http://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.3413632