Welcome to the RILA Bulletin Spotlight Series, where we feature the important work of a different RILA or RI library section, committee, roundtable, initiative, or organization in each issue.
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December 2021 Spotlight: The RILA Mentorship Program
This month, we talked to RILA Mentorship Program Co-Chairs Kieran Ayton and Dorothy Swain. Kieran is the Emerging Technologies Librarian at RI College. Dorothy is the Director at the Greenville Public Library.
With thanks to Aaron Coutu, Assistant Director/Technology Coordinator
at the Cumberland Public Library, for making the RILA Mentorship logo.
What is the mission or purpose of the RILA Mentorship Program?
The goal of the RILA Mentorship Program is to provide encouragement, support, and guidance to early and mid-career library staff to promote their professional development and growth.
What made you personally interested in being involved with this program?
Kieran was RILA President and the formation of a mentorship program was a goal that was identified by the strategic planning consultants with whom the RILA Executive Board worked. Dorothy was identified as a contact due to her leadership work in NELLS (New England Library Leadership Symposium).
When was this program formed, and what was the catalyst for forming it?
Dorothy and Kieran started the RILA Mentorship Program in 2019, based on the RILA 5-year strategic plan that was launched in 2018.
What is the Mentorship Program’s proudest achievement?
This program was developed at the request of RILA members as a benefit to the library community. We are proud to have been able to organize this program from the ground up by partnering mentors and mentees from all library types with similar interests and professional goals.
What ongoing challenges does this program face?
The RILA Mentorship Program was originally intended as a face-to-face program. We had to change the program format due to COVID-19 and rely on virtual meetings and trainings.
If money and time were not an issue, what is the Mentorship Program’s number one wish list item to support its mission or purpose?
This is a free program available to all RILA members with low overhead costs. The major challenge has been for program participants to meet in-person due to COVID-19 restrictions. Another challenge has been to recruit new mentors and mentees to participate.
What partnerships with other groups or individuals (inside or outside of RILA) have been most beneficial for the Mentorship Program to meet its goals or objectives?
MentorRI provided an initial training and framework for the RILA Mentorship Program to use for its launch. Currently, we are working with Valerie Karno (Director of the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Library and Information Studies) and Mary MacDonald (URI Library liaison to GSLIS) to form a partnership to pull in library school students as RILA mentees.
Is the Mentorship Program looking for new members, and how can those interested get involved?
Yes! The program is currently accepting applications for both mentors and mentees to apply for the 2022 calendar year cycle. You must be a current RILA member to join. Applications are available here: https://rilibraries.org/mentorship
What book are you reading now that you’d like to promote?
Dorothy’s favorite book is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen because it has a strong female protagonist and has a romantic storyline.
Kieran recently finished an early Agatha Christie mystery called Peril at End House featuring Hercule Poirot, the Belgian detective. It was a fun bedtime read.