Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Book Review: Mentoring in the Library

Title: Mentoring in the Library
Author: Marta K. Lee
Verdict: Don't bother.  Not very useful.

This book wasn't at all what I expected.  Instead of how to's and advice, each chapter contained a brief review of the literature followed by a case study or two from the author's own institution.  There were a few useful tip sections in the book, but not many - maybe 2 or 3.

The use of case studies was excessive, unnecessary, and quite often irrelevant.  I'm sure for some readers, it's nice to see the applications of mentoring in various ways, but mostly it just felt like the author was tooting her own horn.  Readers do not need to know specifically which hours Regent University's newly hired librarian was assigned to the reference desk nor what hours the other librarians work the desk.  It may have been useful to note that they made sure not to schedule the new librarian at times when no one else was around to answer questions, but that much information would have been more than sufficient.  The author also included an appendix for a form used in her library by an intern working on a VHS/old video format project.  This really doesn't need to be in a book about mentoring.  More useful would be a sample application for a mentoring program, followup questions asked of participants, sample emails announcing these programs, etc.

Additionally, the case studies were all from the author's library.  I recognize that that's what she knows, but it was very repetitive.  The chapter about Mentoring for Promotion talks far more about the promotion process at her institution than it does about how one would go about mentoring someone through the promotion process.

In the chapter on other types of mentoring, the author devotes 3 pages (keep in mind, the book is only 99 pages long) to examples of questions posed to listervs and the responses they garnered.  How this is useful is beyond me. 

I also had high hopes for the chapter on electronic mentoring because I find that it holds many challenges.  However, there was almost no useful information in that chapter at all, let alone information on how to make an online mentoring relationship work well.

In the end, it felt like the author was asked to write a book about mentoring because she's a great mentor and has mentored many people.  While that much seems evident, very little useful advice exists in this book despite what the back of the book claims it includes.  For example, it definitely does not cover "How to establish formal and informal mentoring arrangements."  My advice?  Don't read it.  There has to be something better out there.

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