THE HEALTH CARE LIBRARIES UNIT COORDINATES, FACILITATES, and promotes continuing personal development for all staff in the Health Libraries and Information Network (HeLIN) of the Oxford Deanery (UK). It supports the development of a culture of lifelong learning and recognizes that CPD should help deliver organizational objectives, as well as enabling all staff to expand and fulfill their potential.
A major emphasis for 2000 was to investigate ways of improving support for individual learning within the workplace. The group identified a need to build on existing informal support networks in order to provide additional learning opportunities and decided to investigate the feasibility of piloting a mentoring scheme.
The objectives of the pilot were to increase understanding and knowledge of mentoring as a tool for CPD; to investigate existing mentoring schemes and their applicability for HeLIN; to develop a pilot mentoring scheme for HeLIN incorporating a program for accreditation of mentors; and to evaluate the scheme and disseminate the results.
In order to identify current practice in this area, a literature review was carried out, and colleagues with an interest in or existing knowledge of mentoring schemes were contacted where possible. In the absence of clearly defined appraisal tools, all abstracts were read, and articles that met the following criteria were obtained and distributed to the group for review. Few reports of mentoring schemes that fit our regional context were found, most being organizationally based, with a small number of formal programs in libraries and little activity in the health-library setting.
A semistructured pilot mentoring scheme was introduced, which would focus on providing support to a wide range of HeLIN members, including midcareer librarians who wanted support in restructuring their career or who were facing changing roles and tasks and needed help structuring their learning. A set of guiding principles were produced, and the scheme advertised and promoted widely. Recruited mentees were matched with mentors, and initial contacts were undertaken.
As part of the scheme, an accreditation program for mentors was organized. Mentors undertake a flexible and learner-centered six-month course in order to achieve the City and Guilds Mentoring Award. The program includes attendance at workshops that underpin participants' knowledge and understanding, provide a forum to raise and discuss issues, and also provide a valuable support network for mentors. Individual meetings with learners also provide guidance, support development, assessment, and practical experience of mentoring sessions.
A midpoint process evaluation has been undertaken to make sure that individuals' needs are being met and to reassess and reprioritize the meetings program. A full evaluation will be conducted following the conclusion of the initial mentoring award program. This will assess whether the program is reaching its target population and whether the program meets the individual objectives of participants.
The Health Care Libraries Unit (HCLU), based in the University of Oxford, coordinates, facilitates, and promotes continuing professional development (CPD) for all staff in the Health Libraries and Information Network (HeLIN) of the Oxford Deanery (UK). HeLIN is a cross-sectoral, cooperative federation of libraries...