Mentor of the year: keeping CPD human
Alison Bogle, winner of CILIP’s Mentor of the Year award, talks to Information Professional about her style of mentoring and the value she perceives in the mentoring relationship.
Technology and specialisation can see professional development focusing less on people skills. That’s why CILIP’s Mentor of the Year 2017 started mentoring.
Alison Bogle, Library Services Manager for The Health Management Library - part of NHS National Services Scotland (NSS) - says: “I began mentoring because most of my professional development revolves around IT and keeping up-to-date with new systems, databases or websites and I wanted to do something that was more about people and developing my own ‘soft skills’ such as listening. Mentoring has built my confidence in the sense that I now know that I have experience and knowledge that is valuable to others.”
For Alison, who has been a mentor for about seven years, one of the highlights of mentoring is the opportunity to meet librarians working in other sectors. “There is a strong network of health librarians in Scotland but I don’t have many opportunities to meet or network with librarians from outside my own sector. I have now mentored a number of candidates including two from public libraries and one from a voluntary organisation, and one of my mentees works in an academic library.”
This enables her to learn from the candidate as well as the other way around. “It broadens my awareness of what’s going on in the wider profession, for example, one of my mentees was particularly interested in the idea of using gaming in libraries and he also introduced a geocache in his library, neither of which I knew anything about. In other cases, this can have a direct impact - for example, one of my candidates reviewed the production of a current awareness bulletin for her service, and I was able to compare this with the bulletin that my service produces to see if ours could be improved too. Another example might be when I have had discussions with candidates about issues like copyright where policy varies in different sectors, and we can each learn from the other.”
She has reaped rewards of mentoring in her own sector too: “I already know the background and context in which they are working so it can be easier for me to make suggestions. It also means that I am more likely to see them again – one of my former candidates is someone that I regularly communicate with and get help from in my day-to-day role – so I’m able to see how she is developing professionally.”
Alison believes employers benefit as mentors are engaged in their profession: “Mentors are networking and learning from other organisations”, she says: “they are also promoting their own organisation. The mentoring skills gained are also put to use within the workplace. I am able to use my mentoring skills with my own team.”
Alison says: “I like to meet my mentees at the start of the process and then perhaps every three months, with email correspondence in between. I know that some people do long distance mentoring, but this is not something that I’m prepared to do as I do value the personal contact. I started out agreeing to mentor one person at a time because I wasn’t sure of the time commitment but I’m now mentoring two people. I wouldn’t take on more than this.”