Are you my mentor? Mentoring in the Twittersphere

CreativityCreativity” by Mark van Laere licensed under CC BY 2.0 

After around a year – gulp (and considering my last post was about getting back in the habit of writing – whoops) – I am returning to my neglected blog. There are a couple of reasons:

1). I do really enjoy writing a blog, reflecting on my learning, and sharing my thoughts with others

2). I need some help from my community – and need a solid place to put that information 😀

The good news is that I have been accepted to write a chapter in an upcoming book – Beyond mentoring: A guide for librarians and information professionals. Yay!

The bad news (not that it’s terribly bad) is that it is due the day after my wedding in early January 2016 – so I am setting myself a deadline of Christmas 2015.

But here’s where you come in…

Around two years, I conducted my BA research on how librarians use Twitter to form and cultivate informal mentoring relationships – you can read more on it in my post here, my research questions and answers here on the New Professionals NZ blog, and you can read the published results in the New Zealand Library and Information Management Journal [NZLIMJ].

So I am revisiting my research from 2013, updating the literature to reflect the current environment today, and adding in some more information/angles/topics – as my chapter has to be 5000-7000 words compared with the measly 3000 words I’ve already written on the subject.

Some of the areas I’m thinking about/questions I’m asking are below:

  • Current/up-to-date stats or estimates on the number of librarians with personal Twitter accounts in NZ, and also compare that with the international results – thanks heaps, Sarah Gallagher @sarahlibrarina and Sally Pewhairangi @sallyheroes for your helpful ideas
  • Peer mentoring/reverse mentoring/informal mentoring/community of learners/PLN versus the traditional hierarchical model of mentoring
  • Formal and informal programmes that involve either mentoring or Twitter or both
  • Use of Twitter chats as professional development, support, mentoring, etc…
  • Conference hashtags/virtual attendance of online PD events
  • Examples in pop culture/movies/TV shows of peer mentoring – found some interesting examples of the typical hierarchical mentoring (Anakin & Yoda type thing), but looking for examples to contrast
  • Future of mentoring in the age we live in

So these are some of the things that are floating around my head at the moment – I’d love to chat about them and hear your opinions & ideas. For convenience sake, I am trying to use the hashtag #TwitMentoring in each tweet I do that relates to it, so I can go back and index it or save those conversations.

Really looking forward to the conversations this will generate, getting my first draft done and polished, writing the final one, and submitting it all before my wedding! Thanks for all your help, encouragement, support and #thinkythoughts so far everyone – where would I be without my Twitter family? 🙂




Professional registration: The next step

2014-01-11 13.58.03

So after doing some initial planning, which I discussed in my first post on this topic, I went to have lunch with my mentor to finalize my Professional Training Plan for the next 12 months.

I’ve just realized that maybe not everyone is familiar with this idea of Professional Registration and what it involves here in New Zealand so just allow me to digress for a few minutes…

LIANZA Professional Registration

So I started the process with applying for LIANZA Professional Registration. Some of the benefits listed include:

  • increased professional status
  • one-on-one mentoring to guide your professional development in your first year
  • a framework and focus for ongoing training and development goals
  • an assurance for future employers, that a registered member meets professional standards of competency in the body of knowledge and ethics required for professional library and information work
  • proof of your commitment to professional growth and development
  • the right to use the letters “RLIANZA” after your name
  • International benchmarking and recognition of professional library qualifications for New Zealanders wishing to work overseas

I went Route A as I  finished my BA (Library & Information Studies & The Humanities) in June 2013. Because I had completed an accepted qualification, this step is fairly simple – basically gaining approval from the Board to go ahead. I am required to undertake a mentoring period of twelve months during which time I have to meet certain obligations. At the end of this 12 month period, once the Board has approved my record of completed training, then I will be a Registered LIANZA member (RLIANZA). This lasts for three years, at which point you are required to submit your revalidation journal.


So I got through the planning stage, and went to chat with my mentor about my Professional Training Plan which outlines the scope of my professional development activities over the next 12 months.

It was really useful to discuss my plan with her and see which BOKs (Body of Knowledge) components my plan met – as it needs to cover all 11 BOKs with at least one activity in each over this next year.

The key thing we talked about was keeping the plan as a loose framework. It’s challenging – particularly when starting a new job in about a month – to tie down everything I’m going to need to learn, or even which areas will be the most important. We ended up using my three role purposes from my new job description to guide the bulk of our planning:

  1. Manage, facilitate, and administer all aspects of the Library’s web presence and provide leadership in its enhancement
  2. Take primary responsibility for aspects of the digital research repository and services relating to the management of information
  3. Research, evaluate, develop and communicate new technologies likely to affect information provision and teaching and learning in higher education and provide training.

As I’ll be working in a small team, my role will also involve covering the reference desk and some aspects of circulation work. Because of this variety, I don’t need to worry too much as most of my work will naturally cover the bulk of the BOKs. There’s a few – BOK 1 (Information Environment, Policy & Ethics) and BOK 11 (Awareness of indigenous knowledge paradigms, which in the NZ context refers to Maori) – that I’ve needed to plan to cover more.

Another thing we talked about was making sure the plan included words like “investigate” and “explore” before we drilled right down to specific actions, because it’s important to assess the situation before you start coming up with solutions.

So I guess you could say my Professional Training Plan could boil down to “Learn my new job” – but broken down into the right categories against the BOKs, and thinking broadly about covering all aspects.

So we’ve finished my plan and sent it off for approval – yay! Once it’s been approved, I might post it up on my blog.

So over the course of this year, I’ll be required to:

  • Submit draft Training Plan for approval – done
  • Record my learning against the relevant Professional Practice Domain and Bodies of Knowledge (BOK) in an excel journal template called my Portfolio of Learning
  • Provide a copy of the Training Plan & Portfolio of Learning quarterly to my mentor for her to sign off
  • Meet with mentor as required to discuss progress & seek guidance
  • At the end of the 12 months, complete the plan and portfolio and submit to mentor for sign-off
  • Write a statement of self-reflection on learning undertaken and indication of continuing professional development over the next three years (as part of re validation process)
  • Complete the application for professional registration and submit these completed documents (plan & portfolio) to the Board for sign-off

I’m really excited to kick-start this process, and am really looking forward to starting my new job in February as I’m sure things will start to fall into place more naturally. There’s a lot to learn, but I plan on taking it one step at a time – and trying not to expect too much from myself right away; new jobs can be pretty draining!

So here’s to a year full of new professional learning & discoveries!

The start of my LIANZA Professional Registration journey…

Study 29 photo
Day 29: Studies by Snugg LePupp via CC license on Flickr

So I am embarking on my professional registration journey with LIANZA – I hope to trace the next 12 months of mentoring here on my blog as well as my overall impressions of the Professional Registration Scheme.

So – where to begin?

I applied for Professional Registration back in August 2013 once I had finished my BA and was eligible to apply for pre-registration. I received my acceptance letter a week or two ago, saying that my pre-registration has been approved and now I need to find my mentor (already done!) and come up with a Professional Training Plan for the next twelve months. Then it needs to be signed off by my mentor and then I go ahead and complete the plan and record my learning in a Portfolio of Learning, which can be based off the Revalidation Journal template available on the LIANZA website.

Seems straight-forward enough…

So I started with mind-mapping some professional development activities or opportunities I could do over the next twelve months (or maybe further ahead).

Mind map of professional development ideas rotated

The trouble I’m having is that I’ve already been involved in a number of professional development activities over the past year, some of which included:

  • Writing two books reviews for Library Review
  • Presenting two sessions at LIANZA Conference 2013
  • Writing two 3000 word papers (one for my BA research and one for the Conference paper)
  • Writing abstracts for my Conference submissions
  • Being part of the Communications Committee for LIANZA Conference 2013
  • Running ANZ 23 Mobile Things with Kate Freedman for 6 months (May-November 2013)
  • Being a member of the LIANZA Waikato/BOP Regional Committee
  • Being editor of LIANZA’s Library Life
  • Blogging

They have all been great experiences, but now I am finding it a bit more difficult coming up with ideas for professional development activities as I feel I have already done a few on my bucket list, and now I am trying to trump the ones I have already done. I’m also trying to keep it simple, as a few folk on Twitter reminded me that my new job will also be a lot of professional development in itself, and I should take time to enjoy and grow in that role.

So I think part of my job (at this stage) is coming up with some ideas, but also reigning in those ideas to allow time & space for growth in my new role. I know my mentor will also give me some helpful feedback, as well as my new manager 🙂

My impression of the Professional Registration scheme so far is that it is a more formal way to plan & document your professional development – I know that I already do some of these things anyway out of interest and a desire to grow as a professional – but this is probably a good way to keep your growth well-rounded.

Other people I have spoken to say it is a good way of keeping you on track, but one of the challenges they have found is documenting their learning & fitting it into the right BOK. They’ve also warned me not to leave it all to the end of the three years as it is harder looking back & filling in the blanks! Some points which hopefully I will take on board 🙂

So a few questions for you…

  • How do you decide which activities are worth pursuing for Professional Registration?
  • Are you involved with a Professional Registration (or the equivalent) scheme?
  • What way do you find is the best way to record or solidify your learning – through blogging, a journal, etc?
  • How do you balance formal professional development plans with informal learning & professional development that just happens (such as serendipitous conversations on Twitter :D)?
  • Any other advice for me and others as they start this journey of formal (or informal) professional development?