Skip to main content

Supporting the middle sag

Well, my last post triggered a lot of discussions: one big thing was that many people identified that they felt the same in regards to losing the momentum to push themselves, but that they didn't really mention it formally because they felt they couldn't give any input on how to fix the problem.

But then that's not right - if you feel you can only speak up when you can fix a problem rather than be able to just identify that the problem exists, then that means there's a lot of silent people out there, quietly hoping for someone else to see and fix what's wrong.

So, while talking about this feeling of a need for some sort of support, Bethan Ruddock (@bethanar) and Celine Carty (@cjclib) and I started to try and work out what we felt we needed, and what was possible. Beth said that she was hoping to implement some sort of one-on-one mid-career support within SLA Europe, and Celine said she had been working on something for her group High Visibility Cataloguing (@hvcats). Initially, the ideas were based around providing a personal professional mentor for all career stages, not just for certain situations, like attending a conference for the first time, or when going through a process like Chartership. But then, this relationship can put quite a burden on someone, who's almost certainly going to be fitting in this supporting around their normal life.

So, what would be more realistic than asking one person to support others? Well, maybe a group? Perhaps something along these lines:


  • A group of about 6 volunteers, which allows for a good spread on the demands of members time.
  • Making sure that they're a mix of people - in different sectors if possible, but in different workplaces for definite.
  • Providing a secure and private chat space, with the understanding that all discussions happening in that space are entirely confidential, to ensure free communication between group members (a "what happens in Vegas" rule).
  • Having the facility to allow any member to voluntarily leave any group without having to explain or justify the decision, as people and situations change.


In this way, informal relationships across sectors could be developed, without the expectation of more demanding one-on-one support. However, as relationships naturally form, certain people will inevitably gravitate towards each other, and these may become more personally supportive relationships.

As people's situations change, they would be likely to shift between supporting, and needing support, and back again.. A fluid system of a private professional group would be more likely to allow this switching back and forth between giving and taking more easily.

Also, being able to see how people in other sectors are working can allow you to look with a more realistic eye at your own workplace and career. Ideas about mutual issues and solutions could be exchanged - for example, if you're not experienced in giving presentations, but one of your mentor group is, perhaps you could pick up some more detailed and tailored-to-your-specific-situation information than you would if you just put out a general "I need help" email on email lists and social media?

What do you think? Is this something that could work, or that you would take part in?


Comments

Anonymous said…
An idea with potential, could be very useful. I like the idea of a less formal structure than for example the CILIP Chartership mentoring scheme which again tends to be fro warly careers
Anonymous said…
or even early careers!
Sandra said…
I like this idea, on the right side of informal but with the potential to be really useful as it should catch individuals who would be engaged.
Jo Alcock said…
I think this sounds similar to an action learning set (though in those circumstances they tend to be for a particular goal of gaining a qualification). The rules about it being relatively informal, a private space, and somewhere people can offer advice on things they know more about so relationships are regularly switching from mentor to mentee seems very similar. I've never been part of one of these but have only ever heard good things from those who have.
Anonymous said…
I think this sounds like a really good idea and I would definitely like to be involved.

Tina

Popular posts from this blog

Reinventing the wheel

I noticed an advert on the TV during the summer, and while watching it, I found myself becoming increasingly more irritated by its content as it went on. Then, not long after that, I saw another advert along the same lines, for the same group. I was reminded of my reaction to viewing those adverts last weekend, when I attended Library Camp Glasgow. One of the sessions I took part in covered advocacy, and what can we do to better promote the profession. The existence of these adverts is evidence of, to me, why we need to continue to work hard to show the wider public that "librarian" does not (and never has) equal "timid person who stamps books and says shhhh a lot".

So, this is one of the adverts that so annoyed me, for Barclays Digital Eagles:




Now, I'm not disputing the fact that the concept is great: Barclays are funding people specifically to assist those who don't have the skills needed to make full use of the internet, and the many opportunities it off…

Careering along

When I look around at the activities of information professional groups, it seems that there’s a disparity. There’s quite often a lot of support and funding available for those who’re just starting out in the profession, but a desert of nothingness for those of us who’re “just getting on with it”.

If you’re a new professional, you have lots of groups to support you as you progress in your early career, various prize funds available for essay and report writing, access to bursaries for conference attendance, eligibility for awards for being new and enthusiastic. But what do you get when you’re past that bright-eyed-and-bushy-tailed first 5 years (5 years seems to be the approximate cut-off point for becoming “established” and no longer new).

What happens when you’ve already received a bursary from an organisation earlier in your career and so wouldn’t be eligible for one now, meaning you’re not able to attend events or training? When you’re heavily involved in a project but not at pro…