Solo Librarians, Diversity, and Peer Mentoring

Posted by Larry Cooperman on 6/15/2017
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peers-hs.jpgOne of the many positive aspects of solo librarianship is the diversity of the practitioners. Among them are law librarians, medical librarians, corporate/special librarians and archivists, to name just a few. This diversity helps solo librarians to better help one another, solving common problems and sharing/implementing best practices.

Solo librarians all have a good deal of knowledge to share with their counterparts in other organizations, and this sharing helps each one-person library manager to run the library more effectively and efficiently, and to have more fun doing so.

One of these is not like the other …except when it is

At the leading management consultancy, McKinsey & Company, consultants often solve their clients’ problems by making analogies between companies and sectors that seem diametrically opposed. For example, the productivity enhancements implemented by a high-fashion shoe manufacturer might have huge relevance to a financial services organization trying to improve its loan origination process. Embracing diversity generates great ideas and makes for great connections—it gets you outside the box.

The point? Never assume that a solo medical librarian doesn’t have anything to learn from (or to teach) an archivist, for example. Peer mentoring is incredibly helpful to solo practitioners, particularly because they are often strapped for professional development funds. You receive both the benefit of learning from someone who understands the profession you’ve chosen, and who can bring new ideas to the party.

Will you learn from other professionals about how to run your library, and will you share your knowledge with others?

An upcoming opportunity to build your community

Lucidea is sponsoring a month-long, self-paced, small library management course beginning Monday, July 17, 2017. It offers proven organizational, operational and professional development strategies in an interactive environment. The course is hosted by Larry Cooperman, the author of the book Managing the One-Person Library (Elsevier, 2014), who has over ten years’ experience successfully managing small libraries. If you are interested and would like more information, visit

Have you practiced peer mentoring with other solo librarians, and in doing so, learned new strategies for managing your library effectively and efficiently? Please leave us a comment in the section below—we’d love to hear about it!

Larry Cooperman has worked as a solo and small library manager and director for the past ten years, primarily in academic libraries, public libraries, and school libraries. Larry's latest book is Managing the One-Person Library.


Topics: Library Management, Small Library Management, Integrated Library Systems

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