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Solo Librarians and Peer Mentoring

Posted by Larry Cooperman on 12/26/2017
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One 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.

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 on how to run your library, and will you share your knowledge with others?

Your New Year’s Resolution

As a new year begins, make a resolution to focus on peer mentoring with other solo librarians, and to learn new strategies for managing your library effectively and efficiently.


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, Management, Professional Development