What is peer mentoring?
The ILN used a peer mentoring model. This means that partners are not placed into established mentor/protégé roles, but rather are encouraged to view their partnership as a way to learn from each other; all are mentors and all are protégés. Professional seniority does not imply seniority in the ILN partnership. We believe that we all have something to learn and something to teach.
The ILN was not:
- An international exchange program
- An employment listing service
- Designed to support specific projects
What did participants have to do?
Participants were asked to:
- Respond to emails from their matched partner within a week, unless both partners agreed otherwise
- Respond to emails from the ILN
- Do their best to actively participate in the online discussions
- Treat the information they received about and from their partner as confidential, unless they specified otherwise
- Behave in a professional and courteous manner and abide by the code of conduct when engaging with other participants or the ILN
What could I talk about with my partner?
The ILN would regularly write and publish discussion topics on the website. We also sent emails to all participants with a summary of the topic and a link to the full post on the website. However, participants were by no means restricted to this as a topic for discussion with their program partner. In fact, it was not even required that participants use our discussion topics, we provided these as a starting point and a way of supporting each new professional relationship.
Other ways to come up with topics to explore with your program partner included:
- follow our blog – we published guest posts and news items from the library profession around the world
- follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook and see what is getting our attention
- Look at our past discussion topics – perhaps you missed one or would like to revisit one of the ideas
What support would partnerships receive while participating in the program?
There are two kinds of support you would receive from the ILN while you were participating: administrative support and discussion facilitation.
Administrative support consisted of the information we provided to each partnership, as well as support if participants fell out of contact with each other. We reminded participants when their partnership was nearing an end, and when it’s time to sign up for the next round of partnerships.
The ILN also facilitated discussions between partners and with the wider group of participants. We provided discussion topics to stimulate discussions between partners, but these were entirely optional. We also hosted regular twitter chats, discussions that were open to all participants and the wider community, which gave a chance to get to know some of the other ILN participants.
How would the ILN use my information?
What information did you need from participants?
We needed information from participants to help us match partners and stay in touch. So we needed:
- Contact details, including an email address (our preferred mode of contact)
- Details about you – where you work, how long you’ve been in the industry, and your particular areas of interest
- Details about what you want in a partner
At all times participants have the right to view the information held about you, as well as to change and delete it. We promise to never share that information with anyone else outside of the program.
How will partners be matched?
The ILN would match participants based on that data provided to us. We did our best to find a partner that met your stated preferences, but there are a few other principles that will underlie how we matched program participants:
- We would match you with someone from another country
- Unless you indicated otherwise, we would match you with someone from a similar sector (e.g. public libraries, academic libraries, special libraries)
- Unless you indicated otherwise, we would match you with someone at a different point in their career
These principles were designed to give our partnerships the most to talk about and the most to learn from each other, but we also wanted you to be comfortable with your partner so we wanted you to tell us what you want.
If we didn’t find you the perfect match, we would try for the next best thing, but asked participants to remember that great relationships can be found in unexpected places. We encouraged them to please ‘keep your mind open and seek to learn and share as much as you can’.
What information would be provided to my matched partner?
In order to kick start each partnership, we would give your partner your email address, as well as any information you provided to us about where you work, how long you’ve been in the industry, and your particular areas of interest.
What should I have done if my partnership wasn’t working out?
What should I have done if they did not respond to my messages?
If you believed you had given your partner enough time to respond (and remember, we all have jobs and lives and we do this in the remaining time, so please be patient), and you’ve not heard anything, we asked participants to try the following:
- Try contacting your partner another way. Do you have their twitter handle or perhaps you have friended each other on Facebook or LinkedIn?
- Contact us. If you can tell us how and when you tried to contact your partner, that will help us figure out what’s going on. We’ll try and contact your partner on your behalf.
- In the meantime, try participating in the program another way –
- comment on one of our blog posts,
- follow us on twitter and participate in discussions using the hashtag #interlibnet
If a partner fails to participate in the program we would try and find an alternative partner for the ‘ophaned’ participant, however this sometimes required the participant to wait for the next round of partnerships if they had very specific requirements or didn’t let us know until late in the round.
What if the partners didn’t get along?
Not all partnerships are going to be as productive as we’d all like them to be, and there’s nothing wrong with acknowledging that a partnership hasn’t worked. It may be that the situation for one of the participants changes, or it may be that it just wasn’t a good match. Regardless of the cause, the best thing to do was to talk to each other, and then talk to us so we could help you resolve the situation.
Partnerships could be dissolved at the request of one or both parties, and if possible we would find alternative partners for both participants, however this may have had to wait until the next round of partnerships.
What if my situation changed?
We recognised that all participants have their own lives to lead, and we didn’t want participation in the ILN to be onerous, difficult or cause any obstructions in your personal or professional life. We also recognised that participants may join the program with the best of intentions and find that, for whatever reason, they could no longer continue.
If this should happen to you, we asked that you please inform us as soon as possible. It would also be considered professional to inform your partner, if you’ve already been matched. We would try and find an alternative peer mentor for your partner, however they may have to wait for the next round of partnerships.
We worked very actively to remind participants that your partner and other participants rely on the involvement of all participants. If you were unable to fulfill your obligations to the program we preferred that you resign from the program and rejoin at a later date, if possible.
What happened to each partnership at the end of the round?
At the end of four months a participant could choose to either conclude their existing partnership, or continue it independently, by which we mean that you would be left alone to continue the relationship. It would no longer be a ILN partnership, and you wouldn’t receive support from us – because we assumed that, after four months of getting along you probably don’t need it.
Please note that deciding to conclude a relationship did not reflect negatively on either party. The goal of the ILN was to build an international network – this means we want participants to get to know more than one person. Many of us live busy lives, and it can be hard to actively maintain multiple professional relationships – in order to get to know more people, participants may have needed to move their focus on to a new partnership.
Participants were welcome to sign up for a new partnership with us in the next round, regardless of whether they were maintaining their previous partnership.