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Bay Area Library and Information Network

BayNet Newsletter
Volume 1, Issue 2

Winter 2015

Getting to Know Your Profession Better
Whether you are an experienced librarian or someone
new to the profession, networking plays an important
role in career development. If
used effectively, mentoring
can be an eye-opening and
productive networking experience for library novice and
expert alike.
In the context of this article, I
use the term “library novice”
to refer to someone who is new
to the library profession, for
example, a library volunteer, a
student who is enrolled in
library technology or MLIS
programs, or a newbie librarian who has less than five
years of professional experience; a “library expert” is
someone who has considerable
amount of library work experience and skills in areas of his
or her expertise. This someone
can be a library novice and
expert at the same time but in
different respects, for example, a librarian can be an expert in instruction, but a novice in budget management. Hence, it is a miscon-

ception that mentoring is only
beneficial for a library novice,
and not a library expert. Mentoring is designed to help professional librarians and experienced library staff members to get to know the profession better, as well.
Finding the Right Program
The unique aspect of a mentoring program is that it focuses on one-on-one interaction between a mentor and a
mentee. Mentoring can be
informal or structured. Before
I decided to participate in
mentoring programs, I
thought through the logistics
of my involvement. Why am I
doing this? Who are my potential mentors and mentees?
How much time am I willing
to commit to this? What do I
hope to get out of this mentorship? I am a new librarian
who has only been to a handful of conferences. I did not
know many library professionals outside of my institution. I
was quiet and did not feel
comfortable expressing myself
in a group. I was attracted to

entation delivered by Sarah
Houghton, Library Director of
the San Rafael Public Library
and also known online as The
Librarian in Black.
The presentation was entitled
The Wrong Love and focused
on the idea that libraries are
stuck in a strange and dysfunctional relationship with
their patrons and communities. The popular mantra of “I

Learn about the benefits
of mentorship/menteeship

Learn why “I Love Libraries” may be the wrong
kind of love.

BayNet visits the Western Railway Museum

Photo via US National
Archives

the Baynet mentoring program when I attended their
annual meeting in May 2012.
Although I previously came
across mentoring programs
offered by other library associations, the timing was not
right and I was not ready at
that time. I wanted a mentoring program which allows me
to communicate electronically
most of the time but still offers
the option of meeting with my
mentor and mentee in person.

BayNet/SLA-SF 2015 Joint Meeting
On January 29, 2015 BayNet
and the Special Libraries Association - San Francisco
Chapter (SLA-SF) celebrated
their annual Joint Meeting. It
was a night of light networking, as always, and delicious
hors d'oeuvres. Members of
both SLA-SF and BayNet
mingled at the California
State University, East Bay
Oakland Conference Center
before the main event: a pres-

Special points
of interest:

Love My Library” is inherently at odds with the library’s
core mission. Instead of encouraging people to say why
they love libraries, which is
needy and which Ms. Houghton likened to a cloying lover
in a dying relationship, libraries should be saying why they
love their communities.
Ms. Houghton stressed the
fact that most people working

Mills College Librarian
earns the I Love My Librarian Award

Inside this issue:
Getting to
Know Your
Profession

1

BayNet/SLA
Joint Meeting

1

Western Railway Museum

2

I Love My Librarian Award

4

Page 2

BayNet Newsletter

BayNet Visits the Western Railway Museum

F.M. Smith Memorial Library
Photo by Margot Hansen

“[The Museum] has
grown to include 22
miles of track
donated by Union
Pacific Railroad, the
Train Car Museum,
and a large enclosed
car house.”

BayNet recently got a tour of the
Western Railway Museum as a
part of our regular series of
events, and it was a blast! The
Western Railway Museum, located between Suisun and Rio
Vista in Solano County, is a
combination private railway,
museum, and archive. BayNet
members were treated to a
guided tour of the archive as
well as the museum and railway.
The archive focuses on the history of electronic railroads and
the trains that run on them,
called “Traction Engines”, which
are similar to the rail cars on
the MUNI line in San Francisco.
The collection was started by
the Bay Area Electric Railroad
Association in 1946. The archive
has a lot of maps and ephemera
which would be of interest to
rail history researchers as well
as any rail enthusiast. The collection houses material from as
far away as New Zealand and
Italy and includes timetables
and blueprints from all over the
continent. The archive also focuses on the history of local
ports and ferries, especially
those no longer in use, that were
in the Bay Area up to a century
ago and connected with the old
Sacramento Northern Railway
The private railway is used to
showcase the collection of vintage rail cars on site, some of

which are over 100 years old
and have, in some cases, been
largely rebuilt on the premises.
The Museum has been collecting
cars from as early as 1946 and
has a collection of dozens of cars.
The Museum offers daily train
rides on both the Interurban
and Streetcar lines to give patrons a feel for what it was like
to ride these relics of the rails.
When BayNet went on tour
early in Winter, the tour was
given by Allan Fisher, and focused on the Railways Museum’s history and the growth of
the archive over time. The museum started out as a small
railroad junction, originally the
Rio Vista Junction, and has
grown to include 22 miles of
track donated by Union Pacific
Railroad, the Train Car Museum, and a large enclosed car
house.
Of particular interest to librarians and vintage enthusiasts is
the “Car Card” collection which
contains historical advertisements (Ellie Semple, McPherson, Senator Joe McCarthy) as
well as more fun advertisements
for products of the time including Tang, WonderBread, and
Spam. The Western Railway
Museum is a unique establishment which is definitely worth
checking out. Many of the men
who work there also live there
and rebuild the railway cars

using materials they have cobbled together because the original parts are no longer made!
So if you’re out in the Valley or
want to get a ride on an old
traction engine, go visit the
Western Railway Museum in
Suisun City.
Written by Collin Thormoto,
BayNet News Editor, with assistance from Dean Jones

Penninsular Railway Car
Photo by Margot Hansen

Joint Meeting cont.

Sarah Houghton at BayNet/
SLA Joint Meeting
Photo by Margot Hansen

in a library care about their
patron communities, often times
volunteering time to community
outreach outside the library,
and it is important that the
community knows that. San
Rafael implemented a series of
events around Valentine’s Day
which focused on highlighting
what the library can do for their
patrons. For example, one day
advertised 15 minutes of research help, another day was a
backstage tour of the library
when signing up for a library
card. Other events were free

replacement library cards, $1
fine forgiveness, and a customized book recommendation.
Small events like these change
the dynamic of the relationship
from “I Love My Library” to
“Your Library Loves You”. Ms.
Houghton stressed that it was
important to redirect the focus
back to the community and to
talk about the library like any
other kind of service, with confidence and responsiveness. By
reframing the way the library
talks about itself, it will change

the way people think about the
library for the better.
T
he event was a resounding success and just the latest BayNet
event. Keep your eyes on the
website baynetlibs.org for
more news on upcoming BayNet
events.
Written by Collin Thormoto
BayNet News Editor

Page 3

Volume 1, Issue 2

Getting to Know cont.
Preparing to be a mentor/
mentee
Based on similar interests and
skills, the coordinators of the
Baynet mentoring program
matched up the mentor/mentee
pairs quickly. During the one
year mentoring relationships,
we get to know our mentor/
mentee. The mentoring tip sheet
and worksheet are great resources, especially for first-time
participants. In order to maintain a cordial and professional
relationship, it is crucial for the
mentor and mentee to establish
their expectations and ground
rules at the start of the mentorship. We agreed on how we
should communicate and how
often to check in with each
other. Together, we defined our
mentoring goals, objectives,
priorities, and timeline.
Providing an Insider’s View
As a newbie librarian working
at my first professional job, my
views on librarianship are no
doubt limited. I have wonderful
colleagues to guide me through
surviving and thriving at work
but I often feel the need to have
a second opinion on what librarianship outside my institution
looks like. Every library and its
parent institution have a different philosophy and organizational culture. My mentor and I
exchanged perspectives on academic librarianship, explored
ways to stimulate career growth,
discussed challenges that libraries and librarians face during
the economic downturn, and
shared the ups and downs of our
work experience.
Establishing Connection
Mentoring is one way of being
involved in professional organizations for new library workers
who don’t know many experienced professionals in the field.
A mentor is often a mentee’s
first connection to a national or
regional library association. An
experienced mentor could unveil
many committee opportunities
available within an association.
With a mentor’s help, the mentee could join the right library
association and get introduced
to collaborations with other
library professionals who share

the same career goals and interests. Having a network of library colleagues is a valuable
asset for a librarian to prosper.
In addition to emails and face-to
-face meetings, I am now connected to my mentor and mentee
via LinkedIn to ensure that we
stay in touch throughout, and
after the end of, the mentoring
program.
Putting Things in Perspective
During times of transition a
mentor can be an excellent confidant. A mentor often fills the
role of a therapist who can help
the mentee to see and analyze
the situations in a different
light. A mentor who is an outsider and has no conflict of interest with the mentee’s struggles can offer constructive and
rational advice on managing
difficult situations. In an effective mentorship, trust and respect must be established prior
to sharing sensitive work issues.
Professionalism needs to be
maintained throughout communication between mentors and
mentees at all times.
Promoting the Positive
Mentorship is an excellent vehicle for promoting the mission,
vision, and value of librarianship. Librarians realize that a
lot of new library workers don’t
sufficiently understand the inner workings of the profession.
Many newcomers are unclear
about the different types of library operations and responsibilities. Librarians are information experts who provide service
to users in need of research
assistance. Academic librarians
are champions of research,
scholarship, and teaching excellence. We are advocates of information literacy and lifelong
learning in age of emerging
technology. For those who are
new to the profession (especially
MLIS students and those currently enrolled in library technology certificate programs),
mentors could use this valuable
educational opportunity to impart their experience and wisdom to future librarians.
Enhancing Professional Development

Professional development is an
integral part of a librarian’s
career. Librarians are encouraged to participate in various
professional activities to gain
experience and insights beyond
their work routine. Librarians
are eager to collaborate with
others, to develop new skills,
and to explore innovative trends
in information services. Through
mentoring and coaching others,
librarians share expertise and
strengthen their leadership
skills in building a sustainable
community support system to
overcome challenges and contribute service to the profession.
Rekindling Library Passion
For librarians who have worked
in the profession for a long time,
mentoring young or prospective
librarians could be rejuvenating
and bring a breath of satisfaction into their career. Working
with mentees can be an inspiring and rewarding experience.
By relating their success stories,
mentors once again feel the
same excitement and passion as
when they first became librarians. Their mentoring effort can
renew their dedication and commitment to the profession.
Reflecting Mentoring
One of the positive outcomes of a
successful mentorship is that
both library novice and library
expert have something valuable
to learn from their experience
and each other. The library profession is constantly evolving.
Every mentoring experience is
unique. The more mentors and
mentees communicate with each
other regarding their expectations the more they will benefit
from the mentorship. When the
assessment of an individual’s
strengths and weaknesses are
evaluated without prejudice,
mentors and mentees can come
out of the mentorship knowing
better about the library profession as well as themselves.
Written by Elise Y Wong Librarian at St. Mary’s College of California

Photo courtesy of
Powerhouse Museum

“[We] exchanged
perspectives on
academic
librarianship,
explored ways to
stimulate career
growth, … and
shared the ups and
downs of work
experience.”

Photo courtesy of
Florida Memory

Bay Area Library and
Information Network

As a multi-type library association, BayNet represents librarians
and information professionals from all varieties of organizations.
Our mission is to strengthen connections among all types of San
Francisco Bay Area Libraries and Information Centers, and to
promote communication, professional development, cooperation,
and innovative resource sharing.
If you would like to know more about what we do, contact us via
email at baynetlibs@gmail.com

J OIN B AYN ET ONLINE:
WWW. BAYNETLIBS. ORG

Submit a story:
http://baynetlibs.org/news/
submission-guidelines/

Mills Librarian Receives I Love My Librarian Award
Michael Beller, head of reference and access services at the
Mills College F. W. Olin Library, was honored with this
year’s Carnegie Corporation of
New York/New York Times I
Love My Librarian Award the
AP reported. Beller was honored at a ceremony and reception along with nine other winners for demonstrating the
critical role librarians play in
transforming lives and communities through education and
lifelong learning. Selected from
a pool of more than 1,000 nominations, the 10 winning librarians join a distinguished group
of award recipients. To date,
only 70 librarians have received
the award since its inception in
2008.
Beller serves as an exemplary
ambassador for the library,
whether he is sporting one of
his 50 bow ties, dancing to the

tune of “Happy” in the library
stacks for a student video, or
introducing service dogs to the
library lounge during finals and
other stressful periods in students’ lives.
Beller teaches Library Resources and Methods in which
he introduces students to library research and the use of
printed works and electronic
databases. “No topic seems too
obscure for him to quickly recommend an effective research
strategy,” said Professor of
Public Policy Mark Henderson.
“Best of all, Michael's infectious
enthusiasm for each student's
research topic has never failed.
I have studied and taught at
other institutions with some of
the world's largest library collections, but my students are
better off here with Michael as
their guide to the wider world
of information.”

Beller says that what motivates
him is “the idea that learning
opens up your life and allows
you to appreciate more of
what’s around you.”
The I Love My Librarian Award
is administered by the American Library Association (ALA),
the oldest and largest library
association in the world, with
more than 55,000 members. Its
mission is to promote the highest quality library and information services and public access
to information.
Submitted by Janice Braun
Library Director and Special
Collections Librarian at Mills
College

Michael Beller
Photo courtesy of
ilovelibraries.org