Over the past few years, I’ve participated several times in a great library peer mentoring program called the International Librarians Network (ILN). As someone who has always been interested in other countries and ways of doing things, this has been an exciting and illuminating opportunity to connect with fellow librarians around the world.
“The International Librarians Network (ILN) peer mentoring program is a facilitated program aimed at helping librarians develop international networks. We believe that innovation and inspiration can cross borders, and that spreading our networks beyond our home countries can make us better at what we do.”
When you sign up, you say a little about yourself, what aspects of libraries you are interested in, and what kind of library you work in. Your response is sent off, and then a couple weeks later, you receive an email with your matched up partners info. Getting that email is like a gift, fun to open and see what is inside.
I’ve always been pleased with whom I’ve been matched up with. Sometimes, we have aligned very well as I’ve been paired with fellow artists. Other times, it may not have seemed like we had much in common, but over our discussions we discovered we shared many similarities in our workplaces and our work goals (thinking of the lovely Maria from Poland).
The ILN provides discussion topics are sent out fortnightly, though they encourage you to chat with your partner anytime, and not just around the discussion topics. Discussion topics have included: Advocacy and Lobbying; Library Spaces; Moving for a Job, and Proving Our Worth.
I have found these to be great for professional development. I can reflect on what is happening in my library, I can learn about different ways of viewing issues or programs, and share ideas and encouragement with my partners. I’ve been able to implement in my library some of what I learned, such as a program, because of these partnerships.
Sometimes the topics have come at serendipitous times. When I first received the discussion topic on Library Advocacy I didn’t know what to write. But it just happened that that same week I was attending the Saskatchewan Library Association conference, and attended a full day workshop on library advocacy with Wendy Newman. I was armed with examples, tips, and tools that I could take back and share with my peer mentor.
I have yet to meet any of library peer mentors, but I suspect I will one day. I’ve been paired with several Australians, and my path seems to be taking me back to New Zealand, so chances are likely to meet at least one of past partners.
The International Librarians Network is taking a break for the first part of 2017, but hope to be back up later in 2017. If building your international library network is something of interest to you, I suggest following ILN on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or sign up to receive updates to their blog. When they announce the program open again, you’ll be ready to be one of the first to participate in ILN!