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Developing a Mentoring ProgramUniversity Libraries

The Challenge: Mentoring New Faculty in the University Libraries

As Linda S. Greene, Associate Vice Chancellor, University of Wisconsin, put it in her January 2002 presentation to Penn State’s Academic Leadership Forum, "When we invest in faculty, we invest in an asset essential to an excellent university.” The October 2001 Faculty Exit Study by the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and the Office of Planning and Institutional Assessment stressed mentoring of junior faculty as an area for potential improvement. The University Libraries had a good working program in place that included a mentor assigned to most faculty members, an annual or twice yearly promotion and tenure workshop, and a culture that honored mentoring. All job candidates were told that no one earns tenure alone in the Libraries. The challenge was to transform an informal process into a formal mentoring program.

The Solution: Benchmarking, Focus Groups, Program Development, and Training

Glenn McGuigan, Gary White, Daniel Mack, Diane ZabelAfter Dean of the Libraries Nancy Eaton charged a Libraries Mentoring Team, the first step was to begin benchmarking. Team leader and Assistant Dean Bonnie MacEwan conducted a University-wide survey while serving as Administrative Fellow to the Provost. The Office of Planning and Institutional Assessment provided assistance. Surveys went out to each college; seven responded. The responses showed a wide variety in the reporting relationships, level of mentors, and formality of the programs. Associate Dean Sally Kalin also surveyed her counterparts in CIC institutions and among the top 25 largest research libraries. A perusal of the literature found Lois Zachary’s book, The Mentor’s Guide.

The Office of Planning and Institutional Assessment interviewed four groups of librarians: untenured librarians who are protégés; tenured librarians (focusing on how they were mentored and their ideas after going through the process); librarians considered to be good mentors; and the Libraries' administrators. While developing the program, the team met several times with the Dean to brainstorm, share ideas, reach a common understanding, and seek her help.

The program that emerged from this process focused on providing mentors for each untenured faculty member. Each mentor and protégé received a letter, and resources were developed to assist him or her. Training initiatives have included a workshop for mentors, a Web site with articles and other resources, and a mentoring checklist to be distributed to all program participants.

The program's effectiveness will be assessed during participants' upcoming two-year reviews, and mentors and protégés will be asked if they wish to continue to participate in the program. Also in work is a plan to have the Office of Planning and Institutional Assessment conduct additional interviews and focus groups, so the team can compare the "before" and "after" responses. An open house and a research publishing workshop are among the related activities planned for the coming year in support of the program.

“Suggestions for a Successful Mentoring Program,” “Ground Rules for Mentors,” and other helpful information about mentoring programs can be found at:

Glenn S. McGuigan
Glenn S. McGuigan, Reference Librarian, Penn State Harrisburg
"It’s really all been a learning experience for me." more
Mike Conti
Gary White, Head, Schreyer Business Library
"Mentoring is one of the most important duties for faculty members at Penn State." more
From left: Sally Kalin, Associate Dean, Nancy Eaton, Dean and Bonnie MacEwan, Assistant Dean and Team Leader
“We turned to the principles we've used in past..." more

   Nancy L. Eaton
   Bonnie MacEwan
   Rosann Bazirjian
   Sally Kalin
   Jack Sulzer

© 2004. Office of Planning and Institutional Assessment   502 Rider II University Park, PA 16802-4819   (814) 863-8721   fax (814) 863-7031