A library director who welcomed me to the profession and always seemed glad to see me, to lend me an ear, to give me a pep talk, died recently. We hadn’t spoken in a while, but I will always remember her kindness to me. When I lamented “I’m losing all of my mentors!” at the funeral, a fellow director responded, “That means it’s time for you to take their place.”
I have to admit that she has a point. It’s energizing to see all of the fresh ideas and enthusiasm from the new leaders I’m meeting, but to be honest, I’m struggling with seeing myself as a mentor to them. Being helpful is part of what makes me a librarian, so I’m comfortable answering their questions, but the notion that my specific experiences are generalizable to others is odd to me. I wear this particular hat in an unsteady fashion, with caveats–Your Mileage May Vary; In My Opinion; As Far As I Know–to make sure people know that I’m not An Expert, that I’m fumbling my way through all of this, too.
As I think about my mentors, I see that they fumbled, too, and they didn’t let that get them down. They shared their doubtful moments with me, told me about their screw ups, and coached me through my own. I see now that being a part of this blog is me giving back, in a small way, to all of those who helped me along my career path. As you know, you can submit your questions and conundrums to us here at Library Lost & Found–it’s a great group of library leaders, and I hope you’ll consider sending us your questions!