This past week, I had the pleasure of speaking to a group of MLIS students about life as a librarian, what it was like to be out in the field and active in the profession. It was a fantastic experience, and something I love to do. The chance to help future librarians as they set off on their own paths is uniquely rewarding, and offers as much insight for myself as it does for them. As I shared with them what I love and am passionate about in this field, I was reminding myself once more why I chose this profession.
Speaking to the class reminded me as well of when I was the MLIS student, listening to real life librarians talk about their work. Their comments and insights helped to guide me as I found my way to my own library passions. As a MLIS student, I relied on those conversations and talks to help guide me as I made my own path. When I graduated and began working in the field myself, I found that there was still much to learn from those with more experience than me, and I was grateful to all the kind souls who offered help and wisdom as I continued, and continue, to find my way.
There are many ways that we, as librarians, can reach out and help one another, and receive help, too. From ALA, there is MentorConnect that connects experienced professionals with new ones looking for professional advice and guidance that any ALA member can choose to opt into. The New Member Round Table also offers a formal mentoring program, with two mentoring tracks: Conference Mentoring, where a new librarian is guided through their first Annual Conference, and Career Mentoring, a year-long program designed to guide new librarians through their professional development. Many of the other subdivisions of ALA, like ACRL offer their own versions of a formal mentoring program.
Beyond ALA, explore your state library association’s options. I myself benefited greatly from some incredible programs sponsored by the Illinois Library Association. Many Library Schools offer opportunities as well. Browse online and join some of the many social networking groups for librarians on Facebook and Linkedin. And never forget, there is always your local library- stop in sometime and introduce yourself, and you just might find a librarian willing to help out and answer questions.
We are a profession that loves to help others, and what better way to prove that than to help our fellow librarians out? Whether you are new to the field, or have years of experience to share, we can all be of help and benefit to each other. Even as I begin to reach out and help new librarians, I still actively seek out advice and guidance from those who have been there before me. We all have so much we can learn from each other, so let’s keep learning and growing together.