Hmm, mentoring, now, I do have some experience in this area. I did once work in an organisation where there was a formal mentoring scheme. All new members of staff were matched up with a mentor so when I started I was introduced to a colleague and when I was long enough in the tooth I agreed to become a mentor and was duly assigned a new starter.
This was some time ago and from what I remember this was not professional mentoring as such. It was more akin to a ‘buddy’ scheme in that much of the support was pastoral, ‘Where’s a good place for lunch?’, ‘What happens with leave at Christmas?’, ‘When’s the next student conference?’, that sort of thing. It’s not that we weren’t supporting one another professionally, in fact my mentor acted as a critical reader for my application for chartership, it’s more that being fellow professionals not only in the same sector, but within the same organistation, there is a limit to the neutrality of your perspective, insight and opinion.
Do I think that mentoring is a force for good? Yes. I gained from both sides of the mentoring fence, I valued the coaching and support that I received from my mentor and I learnt much from my mentee. Mentoring is a good thing. The only caveat I would add is that I suspect that the best benefit is to be gained from mentoring matches made between different library and information sectors.
Further fuel for the idea in my head that a mentor from outside of your own immediate professional sphere is a ‘good thing’ comes from the time that I served on the CILIP Assessment Panel that assessed applications for Certification and Revalidation. At that time, applications were predominantly sent to teams of assessors that worked in sectors other than those of the candidate. Precisely I believe to help build a reasoned, informed and above all neutral assessment. These Assessment Panels have since been superseded by the Qualification Board of which I have no participatory experience so I do not know if this is still how applications are assessed.
Thoughts for the bottom line: If I were to consider becoming or finding a mentor, I would start with the