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? 🙂




Last night of being fourteen forever… #BlastFromThePast

This is some prose I wrote the night before my 15th birthday; pretty full of teen angst, but thought it might be a fun blast from the past to celebrate my birthday today! I won’t tell you exactly how old I am, but this poem dates from 8 years ago… 

Infinity” by David Yu licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Tonight is my last night of being fourteen – forever.

Tonight is my last night of being fourteen. I don’t feel that much older, but fifteen sounds too old. It just makes me aware that time is flowing by like a river and I cannot reclaim it. It’s gone – forever.

Soon I’ll be twenty, and then it’s not far till thirty or even the big four-o. My life is flowing through my hands like water; I have to enjoy each sparkle, laugh at every ripple, and treasure every drop.

I’m not usually this pensive or melancholy, birthdays bring it out in me. The numbers make me realise another year has gone; a year of good time and bad times, a year of struggle and upheaval and settling down again. Life goes so fast, too fast; you wish it might last longer, but the thought of eternity makes me awed.

Living forever – the thought kind of scares me. Sometimes just finishing in peace and sleeping one last time seems better. Indeed, spending eternity on this earth would be a burden, seeing all the evilness and brokenness forever. But spending eternity with my Maker in a perfect earth will be wonderful beyond the limits of imagination. My finite mind cannot grasp infinity, I am bounded by time. But I am convinced, that bursting the boundaries of time and letting my spirit soar will be scary and yet the most wonderful thing ever.

Writing: the secret weapon within a librarian’s arsenal

Writing by Alan Cleaver via CC license on Flickr

I came across this great blog post yesterday on Hack Library School (one of my *favourite* blogs) called: “Learn to Write (Well)” by Joanna June. What pulled me into the post was the first sentence (and I quote):

Alternate Title: all I needed to know about acing grad school I learned in 6th grade.

Wow! I was immediately intrigued and read on. A lot of what June said I could agree with. It’s something that is not immediately obvious (or is so obvious you never think about it!), but librarians require strong writing skills – something that universities assume we have. It is something that people are taught, but ultimately it boils down to practice.

I love her point about how writing fast and easily is related to reading comprehension. She advises:

Once we know what we are trying to say, regurgitating those ideas in a cohesive manner is much easier. So my first tip when you sit down to write, know clearly in your own head what it is that you want to express.

She also recommends reading other authors critically to see how they have arranged their own ideas to get their points across.

After all, a crucial part of a librarian’s work is to: “efficiently sift through information and find the important bits.” If you have good reading comprehension skills and have honed the ability to pull out the important stuff, you are well on the way to becoming a good writer.

I personally have always been a bookworm (this reason was why my parents advised me to get into library work!) but I subconsciously developed the habit of speed-reading. I was so keen to get to the end of the book and see what happened, I would just skim-read to pull out the important concepts and grasp the flow of the story. I thought this was pretty ordinary, until I told someone at a meeting that I had read all 300 pages of board minutes on a one-hour flight from Hamilton to Wellington and she asked me if I had taken a speed-reading course! It is a pretty handy skill (particularly when you are a bit of a procrastinator – come on, who isn’t?), but it’s also vastly handy when developing your writing skills if you can grasp the point from the information and succinctly relay that point to an audience.

So back to the central point – how do we get better at writing?


After all, practice makes perfect, right?

Practice in a variety of contexts:

  • Blogging
  • Tweeting
  • Creative writing
  • Comment on blog posts
  • Newsletters
  • Announcements
  • Taking minutes
  • E-mails
  • Report writing

I’ve taken on a number of volunteer opportunities to hone my writing; including Volunteer Editor of LIANZA’s Library Life. I’ve learned so much from this last year on it, and have written a large number of different pieces including articles, editorials, and sales pitches. It has forced me to be succinct and concise and it had also made me work on my marketing skills to get people excited and involved.

I’m also really loving #BlogJune because it allows me to get in touch with my creative side, and put into words some topics I have been thinking about for a while. The quote below sums up my situation; blogging definitely helps me find my quiet space to shape ideas.

writing is best way to ...
Writing is best way to… by mwedwards815 via CC license on Flickr

So what about you? What are your tips or strategies for making your writing or reading comprehension better?

Secret of writing – #QuoteSunday

What I know #writing Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

What I know #writing Steven Pressfield, The War of Art by Teresa Robinson via CC license on Flickr

I saw this quote on Flickr while I was looking for some photos of writing for my Saturday blog post on “The Final Chapter” – serendipity at its finest! This quote seems very appropriate to everyone doing #BlogJune – the problem isn’t the writing per say; it’s sitting down to do the writing. So how can we make writing a habit?

I guess we need to set aside a bit of time each day (or snatch a few minutes every now and then) just to write – and try not to be too critical. I mean; it’s important to write quality stuff, but sometimes you have to work through a bit of dribble to get to the good stuff. After all, a blank page is intimidating so sometimes it’s important just to write – get some words on that canvas – and then go back and fix it up. But you need to start with something!

edit – I was just about to hit publish on this post and then saw two other great #blogjune posts on getting back your writing mojo. Seems like a popular topic 🙂

Con –

Alisa –

All the best to everyone participating in the #BlogJune challenge – I’m really enjoying all the posts so far and I know we can do it!

So overcome that resistance – sit down and write!

Or in the immortal words of Dory:

Just keep swimming!

Just keep swimming...
Just keep swimming by Silvio Tanaka via CC license on Flickr