MLA Mentorship Program

The goal of MLA’s Mentorship Program is to support career development by providing encouragement, support, and guidance to library science students, early-career librarians, mid-career staff looking to advance within their field or library staff looking to transition into another position.


The MLA Mentorship Program was established to provide a method of introducing and encouraging librarians and other library professionals to work together and network within the community. After several successful years, and based on feedback from past participants, we re-launched the program in 2020 in order to be more inclusive and increase the overall impact. The program is open to all MLA members.

The Michigan Library Association will match mentor/mentee partners. Participants will each receive a welcome packet identifying their partner. Mentees are expected to make first contact with their assigned mentors. Partnerships are expected to last for six months.

The Mentorship Program is flexible and largely self-directed. The unstructured nature of the program makes it versatile and capable of adapting to a range of participant needs. Mentor and mentee pairs are encouraged to set goals, create a schedule and use communication methods that work for them.

Required Activities for Mentors and Mentees

  1. Define their own goals and objectives at the beginning of their mentoring relationship.

  2. Establish a communication plan that both parties are willing to follow.

  3. Complete a check-in survey at the program's halfway point and a final program evaluation after six months.

  4. Identify activities specific to mentee’s professional goals and interests.


Mentor program icon Apply to be a Mentor Mentor program icon Apply to be a Mentee


Mentee applications will be open each February and August. Matching will take place in March and September for the Spring and Autumn groups respectively.

Spring Partnerships: April 1 – September 30
Autumn Partnerships: October 1 – March 31

Mentor applications are open all year. Your name will remain on the list of prospective mentors until you wish us to remove it. MLA will contact all prospective mentors in February and August of each year to confirm continued interest in the program. 

Learn more

Mentorship Program FAQ (pdf)

Mentorship Program Overview (pdf)

Questions can be directed to Keeley Briggs, Database Coordinator, at [email protected].

Mentor Program Testimonials

Rachel Manela, Archival Librarian, Novi Public Library:
"I'm so glad I signed up for the MLA Mentorship program. It provided me with the support I was searching for as my career is getting underway. It was also really nice to bounce ideas off of someone who has worked in libraries for a long time but who did not work with me at my library. I was able to ask questions, share triumphs, and seek guidance."

Ann Neff-Rohs, Director of Collections, Grand Rapids Public Library:
"Engaging in big picture conversations around the future of the profession on a personal level with new or growing librarians has helped me feel valuable in ways that extend beyond my job responsibilities. It fills my cup and checks my perspective at the same time. Conversations about management issues with new managers help me crystallize my approach and with practice, get better at teaching management concepts. I am always reminded of how similar library environments are when talking with professionals in different regions or in different roles and use that to keep me fueled for those big visions of public service and embedding equity in our work. Collaboration can take some initial energy investment to get started but I think of it a little like gift theory, mentorship given freely amplifies the impact of our shared intentions twofold. Mentoring new leaders is a great way to build a coalition for the future evolution of library service and I’m so grateful to MLA for providing a matching program for new connections." 

Kate Gillham, Dorothy Hull Library - Windsor Township:
"I am so thankful I've had the opportunity to participate in this program. When I applied to be a mentee, I had very suddenly taken on the role of interim director for my library and was feeling unsure and overwhelmed. I submitted my application, and hoped to match with a patient mentor who would be willing to give me some pointers. Ryan was that, and so much more. He supported and advised me as I took on the permanent director role, and has been there with words of wisdom and encouragement for each step of my professional journey. I am so grateful for his warm personality, honest and helpful words, and generosity with his time. This program has been invaluable to me and I'd recommend it to anyone. " 

Joyanne Huston-Swanson, Community Engagement Bookmobile Operator, Kent District Library:
"Thank you for the opportunity to participate in the MLA Mentorship Program. It has been a wonderful experience in so many ways.  Being able to share some of the tools we created or repurposed for our Bookmobile project as well as the lessons learned in our 5 years of operation has helped the two of us gain new perspectives on working with and for our communities.  We have celebrated one another's Outreach successes and commiserated over our mishaps and fumbles.  A little humor and empathy go a long way. This opportunity has provided encouragement for both of us and I hope others take advantage of the program."

Cathy Russ, Director, West Bloomfield Township Library:
"Being a mentor has been very rewarding. After 30+ years in public libraries, I believe it's my professional responsibility to help those starting out on their career journey, but the best part is, I have learned from my wonderful mentees as well! Working with my mentees assures me that libraries will be in good hands and continue long into the future. I appreciate MLA creating this program and giving all of us the opportunity to learn from each other."  

Ryan DeeryDirector, Charlevoix Public Library:
"It has been fantastic to connect with Kate, my mentee. Her positive attitude, constant inquisitiveness, and thoughtfulness are inspiring. Each time we connect, I leave the conversation a bit happier, with a deeper understanding of myself and why I do things the way I do, and a few ideas about how I might do things differently. It is also great to get to know a colleague a bit more personally. Lastly, I, like everyone, have had so much help to get to where I am professionally and personally, and I appreciate having the opportunity to repay a bit of that help."

Marissa Lasoff-Santos, Westland Public Library:
"I joined the MLA Mentorship Program when I started my first full-time librarian position. It was great to get advice and bounce ideas off of a more experienced librarian from a different library. My mentor's insight helped me while program planning and taking on new projects. Although my mentor lives on the other side of the state, we were able to meet in person at last year's MLA Annual Conference. I recommend the MLA Mentorship Program to anyone just starting out in the profession and is eager to learn, as well as more experienced library workers with wisdom to share!"


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