Tips For Successful Mentoring


Mentoring projects completed in Wisconsin from 2000 to 2002 in public libraries, museums, local historical societies, and other institutions have shown that the following pointers can make a positive difference in mentoring:

A. Preparation
  • Institutions need to make best use of mentors' time before the first visit:
    • know your community's needs; know where your collections are if they are stored in a variety of locations
    • between visits: work toward the goals identified be prepared with questions that came up since the last visit

  • Mentors need to be ready to use institution's time effectively:
    • Ask for written descriptions of the institution's mission, collections, facilities, and services
    • Get further information from the institution's staff and administrator

B. Realistic Goals

• Use the assessment process to determine resources. Identify the institution's budget, staff, and volunteer force, as well as the mentor's available volunteer time.

• Use the planning process to establish reasonable, attainable goals; distinguish short-term from long-term goals for improving care of historical records.

• Consider realistic options: just because something has “always been done that way” doesn't mean that it can't (or shouldn't) be changed

A. Complementary Sources of Assistance

•  Use the On-line tool kit developed for the grant-funded mentoring program

•  Look on the Internet for introductory archival management information and for other tool-kit sites

•  Learn about the published manuals, workshops, and other service available from professional archival associations

B. Good Communications

•  Mentors and staff should take every opportunity to get to know each other's interests

•  Staff should keep repository administrators well informed of the mentoring work

•  Don't be afraid to ask questions and clarify issues

•  Use the phone, fax, and e-mail to keep the lines of communication open and the mentoring work on track

•  Publicize the accomplishments and results of mentoring:

    • to the institution's users, donors, governing board, and community;
    • to the mentor's supervisor, employing institution, and professional colleagues and peers.



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