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Illinois Library Association Annual Conference

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mentorship program, mentor, mentee, team building, COVID-19


Imagine moving across the country to start a job at a new library during a pandemic. Acclimating to a new job working from home in isolation can be unnerving. How does one connect with new colleagues? How does one learn about the institution’s culture?

An Illinois academic library hired an unprecedented influx of new staff in the summer of 2020 at the height of COVID-19. To build community for these new colleagues, librarians implemented a mentorship program. The working group created a foundation of supporting documents, called for volunteers to act as mentors, matched mentors to new employees based on a survey of needs, and crafted an initial framework. The organizers planned teambuilding events and DEI programs to supplement mentor-mentee meetings. At various times, the group collected data from all participants to garner feedback on the program.

In this presentation, working group members will share best practices, assessment strategies, framework development and programming ideas. They will describe challenges as well as continuation and expansion of the mentoring initiative.

Mentorship is vital to a library’s success even at the best of times. Don’t wait for the next pandemic to start mentoring!


The presentation was given at the Illinois Library Association 2021 Annual Conference: Breaking Down Barriers, Building Up Communities.



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