Significant value found in mentoring programs for novice tenure-track academic librarians

S W. Herman, Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell


© 2016 Herman. Objective - To examine the effectiveness of mentoring programs for novice tenure-track academic librarians, and to identify critical elements that define a successful mentoring program in various academic library settings. Design - Survey questionnaire with a voluntary phone interview. Setting - Academic libraries in the United States of America. Subjects - 283 librarians participated in a survey questionnaire. Researchers conducted additional interviews with 6 out of the 12 librarians who had volunteered on the survey questionnaire and who met the inclusion criteria. Methods - Researchers recruited participants through two professional e-mail lists: the Information Literacy Instruction Discussion List (ILI-L) listserv and the American Library Association's New Members Round Table (NMRT) listserv. Interested participants completed a secured online survey that was hosted using SurveyMonkey. The researchers then coded and analyzed the collected survey data using the same software. At the end of the online survey, participants were given the opportunity to volunteer for an additional interview. Potential interviewees were selected if mentoring programs were available for tenure-track librarians at their institutions. Once selected, researchers contacted potential interviewees and conducted interviews. The interviews were transcribed, the data anonymized, and original recordings deleted. Researchers coded the anonymized interview data to identify common themes. Main Results - Researchers identified six themes from the survey data and interview transcripts: traits of an effective mentor; configuration of mentoring programs; elements of effective mentoring programs; mentoring partnerships within or beyond the library; role and training of mentors and mentees; and the mentor/mentee relationship. Overall, the survey and interview data suggest that mentoring programs provide valuable assistance with professional tenure-related activities, and facilitate less-tangible effects such as an increased understanding of an institution's culture and an improvement of communication and time-management skills. The data also provides insight into effective program elements and areas for improvement. Conclusion - This study suggests that there is significant value in implementing a mentoring program. The results from this study can be used by academic libraries that are considering implementation of a mentoring program or improving an existing one.