Giving back to the profession in other ways #mentoring

We all lead busy & varied lives, and sometimes we feel like we just don’t have the time to be on a committee, be a mentor, run a workshop, take part in a MOOC, or even just fill in an online membership feedback survey, because it all seems too big, too hard, too much.

What if … we flip that thinking?

Instead of thinking I can’t participate in [insert task that seems overwhelming] at the moment because I am too busy/tired/fed up [insert adjective of choice], what about contributing in other ways instead? Think small & achievable contributions rather than bigger-than-Texas.

We all bring different strengths to the table – look at your peers, can you see the writers, the organisers, the workhorses, the dreamers, the leaders, the artists? Every one of them has something to offer to the library industry. Instead of relying on a small group of committed individuals who regularly step up to industry committees/project groups/conference organisation, we could share the load if we broke it down into more manageable sized “tasks”, we could play to people’s strengths and achieve something truly awesome as a profession.

The collective is stronger than the individual.

We’ve all got something we can contribute to a shared outcome. If a stronger profession is what we want, then why don’t we all bring our strengths to the cause?

I often hear that we, as in the broad stereotypical generalisation of the collective of librarians, don’t contribute much to the professional, scholarly, research publishing field given the size of our industry. And yet there are multiple research projects completed each year by aspiring librarians as part of their educational endeavours.

What if … we implemented a network of people who could work alongside a new graduate to support them to get the results of their research published?

After a graduate has finished their research project, and after a very well-deserved break from that research project, they could partner with one or two librarians who are great editors/writers/publishers, and work together to re-work the research into a publishable format. Working collectively to contribute to the librarianship literature, and developing the network & skill base of the new graduate in their first professional steps into the library industry.

Imaginea new graduate having a ready-made network of industry professionals, which includes work colleagues, fellow graduates, a mentor, and one or two research writing partners.

Imagine … a new graduate publishes a paper about their research project, which is then read by an overseas student who decides to build upon that research idea and publish their results in a new paper, which is then read by a recent graduate who asks them both to collaborate on a joint international research project.

Imagine … where we want the industry to be in five or ten or twenty years time, and let’s start to contribute small achievable shifts in our thinking and doing to move towards our strong, networked, professional collective. Small contributions made now will add up over time.

Imagine the strength of the profession in ten years time when this networked & supportive model becomes the norm.

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5 thoughts on “Giving back to the profession in other ways #mentoring

  1. What an inspiring post! I couldn’t help but see the links between this and how I think about building the evidence base of the LIS profession. As a profession, we do need to disseminate our lessons, successes and failures and challenges to the ‘why’. Overcoming barriers will involve developing research skills, which I am beginning to suspect that new graduates might have these skills more developed than some established professionals. Another challenge, and one which I think will impact me, is having the ‘okay’ from superiors to publish. I’m in my last semester of my Masters. I may not be able to publish under my university affiliation anymore. I have varied interests, plus there are superiors who might think I’m too ‘early career’ to publish, and I’ll need to go through the various approvals to even submit something. The pink elephant in the room isn’t a lack of enthusiasm or time I don’t think (because I make time), but to publish with some sort of affiliation attached to a name.

    • Thanks for dropping by Alisa. I’m frustrated on your behalf at the concept of being “too early career to publish” – wow, I haven’t struck this concept before in LIS, although I have friends who came up against this kind of resistance early on in their science careers (they went ahead & published anyway regardless of the naysayers). I am most firmly of the opinion of publish, publish, publish, no matter where you are in your career!
      And given that you will be in the final throes of research in your Masters, then surely there should be significant support to get that research published & shared, and talked about, and create future collaborations. There must be options to get published without an affiliation – #rackingbrains to work out how we could find that out.
      I agree that people do make time & have the enthusiasm, as you’ve said, you make the time to do it.
      So with a better support network to get new & recent grads grads published, we could collectively overcome the naysayers – hence finding folks who could be part of this network. #gonnagivethissomemorethought

  2. Great idea Megan and I wish you luck with it. We ran a workshop in Sydney a couple of years back to help ‘first-timers’ consider writing a proposal for the then up-coming ALIA Biennial, we had a great response at the workshop, though only a few followed through and applied to do papers. It might also be able looking at encouraging people to consider co-authorship to help with that first hurdle.

    • I like the idea of also supporting first-timers to submit for conferences/symposiums, as not everyone works somewhere with people who support, know or encourage this to happen, so I’d be glad to see that added into the mix.

  3. Pingback: Working with your talents | serious fun

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