Rethinking Mentoring: What impact does the ILN have on participants?

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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 the impact the ILN has on participants in the program: 

At the end of the program participants are asked “What impact has your involvement with the ILN had on your work or professional activities?” The question is deliberately open-ended, seeking to avoid assumptions about program outcomes and allowing for detailed responses. These responses are analysed for commonalities, and a coding framework developed. Respondent quotes are used below to illustrate the categories used.

Respondents most commonly (30%) describe experiencing a widening of their professional awareness.

“It gave me a chance to think about the wider profession and step away from my immediate concerns and the “day job” which I found really constructive.”

Equally common are respondent reports of a newly international perspective on their work; that they are seeing their work in an international context, or learning more about libraries in other parts of the world, in turn putting their personal experience into a different, global context.

“I had never really considered librarianship at an international level prior to my involvement in the ILN, now I am able to build up my own global network through these connections.”

Approximately 20% of respondents give feedback about encountering new ideas, giving either specific examples of new activities undertaken as a result of their involvement in the ILN or general comments about sharing ideas with their partner.

“I got some great ideas for engaging secondary students in the library and the library program.”

A further category relating to experiencing an increase in professional confidence or motivation, has 16% of respondents citing these outcomes.

“It has really built up my confidence to contribute more in the work environment. I feel it is the start of a much longer journey.”

This is particularly rewarding when junior members of the profession realise that they too have something to share, and reinforces the value of the ILN peer mentoring model.

“I feel that you have a lot of information and knowledge to share, no matter your country or language.”

Ten per cent of respondents describe experiencing general professional development from participating in the program, particularly where barriers have existed around traditional forms of professional development.

“I am at an awkward spot in my career where ambition is frustrated by family commitments, being a part of the program allows me to interact with the wider community and allows me to continue my professional development.”

A further 10% of respondents mention the networking benefits of the program, either in a general way (the program allowed them to start building an international network) or referring specifically to the relationship they had with their assigned partner.

“It’s allowed me to talk to someone in a different part of the world, expand my network, and talk to someone already in the profession – great!”

A final category of feedback is seen for those (7%) that found the program helped them develop a particular skill, such as time management skills, development of research or information literacy materials, and further development of English language skills.

“I plan to stay in contact and develop some collaborative research with my partner and build on this global professional network by re-enrolling next round!”

There is a strong relationship between respondents’ cited reasons for joining the program (to build their international professional network) and the reported program outcomes (expanded professional awareness, internationalised perspective on one’s work). This alignment explains in part the high overall satisfaction levels and positive associations seen with program participants.

Rethinking mentoring: Online, international peer mentoring with the International Librarians Network is available now at

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