From Staff to Librarian: How Informal Mentorship Supports the Next Generation of Library Leaders

Reference and Instruction Librarian
CSU Channel Islands
Laura Worden
Original Cataloging and Public Services Librarian
CSU Channel Islands


Even without a formal program, tenure-track librarians can provide mentorship, opportunities, and meaningful experiences for staff members in library school and new adjunct librarians. This informal mentorship allows staff members to gain valuable knowledge and experience with duties performed by librarians while still in library school, which makes them more competitive in the job market and builds their confidence. When staff members move on to become adjunct librarians, continued mentorship allows them to quickly step into leadership roles, including implementing new programs, leading information literacy instruction, and pursuing research interests. At the John Spoor Broome Library at CSU Channel Islands, tenure-track librarians have provided informal mentorship to staff members in library school and new adjunct librarians, which has led to a collaborative work environment and innovative library programs. This poster will present the benefits and results of informal mentorship through the experiences of two library staff turned librarians.


A formal mentorship program is not necessary for meaningful mentorship to occur within a library. Informal mentorship allows relationships to develop naturally, making the experience more comfortable and relaxed for both the mentor and mentee. Despite being informal, the experience is still beneficial to both involved. Tenure-track librarian mentors are able to provide guidance to up-and-coming librarians, foster a supportive, collaborative work environment, and build evidence of professional service for their portfolio. Staff and adjunct librarian mentees can develop their professional interests and goals, gain experience with librarian duties, and expand their network of support, making them more competitive in the job market and prepared to step into leadership roles. The John Spoor Broome Library at CSU Channel Islands has a strong history of tenure-track librarians providing informal mentorship which has built a dedicated, collaborative library staff and resulted in innovative library programs and services led in part by staff members in library school and new adjunct librarians. This poster will present the informal mentorship experiences of two library staff turned librarians. It will highlight the benefits and results of developing leadership skills in library staff and new adjunct librarians. Without a formal mentorship program in place, tenure-track librarians took it upon themselves to provide mentorship and create meaningful opportunities and experiences for staff members in library school. Staff members began seeking guidance from tenure-track librarians on assignments, which transitioned into discussing career goals, interests within the library field, and potential collaborations on projects. After learning the staff members’ interests, tenure-track librarians then gave these staff members opportunities to become involved with programs and projects that fit their goals and interests including observing information literacy instructions sessions, developing course-specific research guides, and assisting with planning and implementing outreach programs. These librarians also invited staff members to attend professional association conferences and committee meetings, encouraging them to hone in on their interests, become involved in professional activities as a student, and begin to develop a network of colleagues state and nation-wide. By 2013, two of the Broome Library staff members who had been in library school attained adjunct librarian positions shortly after graduating. Mentorship from tenure-track librarians continued for these two, allowing them to make a smooth transition from staff member to librarian. They were transitioned into teaching independently starting with observing sessions and assisting students one-on-one during instruction, then leading a portion of instruction, and finally teaching an entire session. This process allowed the adjunct librarians to gain familiarity with information literacy pedagogy and working with faculty, which built their confidence and allowed them to quickly contribute to the information literacy instruction program. Tenure-track librarians also gave these adjunct librarians opportunities to lead outreach programs. Although the programs had been in place for several years, leading them required the adjunct librarians to establish and implement an event timeline, collaborate with various faculty and departments on campus, and provide a public face for the library. Leading outreach programs allowed the adjunct librarians to gain experience with program planning, marketing, and working with students, giving them insight into their campus population and ideas for future outreach. Furthermore, tenure-track librarians collaborated with the adjunct librarians on professional research and publications. This gave the adjunct librarians experience with the research, writing, and publication process, which prepared them to pursue publication opportunities independently. The positive experience of informal mentorship has allowed these two adjunct librarians to provide leadership at Broome Library and begin mentoring other staff in library school and adjunct librarians.

Presentation Materials


Date and time: 
Fri, 04/04/2014 - 5:00pm - 8:00pm