More On Mentoring: Ask a Special Librarian – May Edition (Pt 2)

Ask a Special Librarian – May Edition (Part 2 of 2)

Tracy Z. Maleeff
Library Resources Manager at Duane Morris LLP in Philadelphia
@LibrarySherpa &

Joshua LaPorte
Law Library Assistant – University of Connecticut
@joshualaporte &

TracyJosh2It’s a banner month for all you readers. You get not one but two editions of “Ask a Special Librarian!” The reason for this special occasion is to introduce you all to my future co-columnist. Beginning next month, Josh LaPorte will be fielding your questions and writing about special librarian concerns. We will be both collaborating on posts as well as taking turns. This change will bring a different perspective for you readers and allow for us to get more creative with this column. It’s a win-win and we thank you for coming along on this journey with us.

So, who is this Josh LaPorte? The son of a librarian, Josh has worked in libraries since he was a teenager.  He currently manages the front desk and collection maintenance at the UConn School of Law Library in Hartford, Connecticut.  Prior to his service at UConn, Josh worked for two library services contracting companies providing services to a wide variety of corporate, not-for-profit, legal, academic, and public libraries around the United States. Josh also worked for several years as a community organizer for a small non-profit organization in Hartford.  He is Vice-Chair of the Connecticut Bar Association Paralegals Section, and is a member of the American Association of Law Libraries, Law Librarians of New England, and the Southern New England Law Librarians Association.

In Part 1 of the May edition, I wrote about the importance of mentoring and even had my own mentee share some of her insights. Josh was kind enough to share some of his thoughts about mentoring as well.

Q: Based on your experience, how would you describe a mentoring experience?

A: Mentoring can be formal or informal.  Some of my mentoring relationships (both as mentor and mentee) feel very casual, meeting for drinks periodically and sending emails and Tweets on a regular basis, while others are highly structured, with scheduled meetings, homework, and meeting agendas.  Some have mixed elements of both.  Structure your mentoring relationships in a way that is comfortable and productive for both people.

Q: What advice do you have for people seeking a mentor?

A: Mentors can be people working at your level.  It can be someone in your organization or program, or someone in a similar role at a different organization or a student in another program.  We all have skills we can share.

Q: What insights do you have about the mentoring experience? Any tips for mentees?

A: All mentoring relationships should be beneficial and valuable to all parties.  Don’t look to just take advice and hints from your mentor; share and offer help to them.  A mentor can learn so much from their mentee, so always be ready to share your perspective and give your mentor opportunities to share more than just advice with you.  Help your mentor by publicizing their events, introducing them to your contacts, and volunteering to help them out with projects.

Q: Lastly, any tips on how to find a mentor?

A: Structured mentoring programs, such as those offered by professional organizations which pair up mentors with mentees using an application form, can be very successful.  I have personally found more success with more organic selections, people I meet while networking (online or in real life, or both) with whom I develop stronger relationships and have an easier give-and-take communication flow.

Please join me in welcoming Josh to not only the family, but to the Ask a Special Librarian column! I know that mine and Josh’s combined experience will provide both entertaining and educational material for you all!

Want to ask a special librarian? Send questions to Tracy (@LibrarySherpa on Twitter or or Josh (@joshualaporte or

We await your questions — two special librarians on hand, no waiting!