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The Seattle Public Library Mentorship Program

Seattle Public Library

Problem Statement

How can we encourage employees’ development of skills needed to succeed in Library employment and provide employees opportunities for personal and professional growth?


The Seattle Public Library developed and implemented a Mentorship Program.

Phase 1: a structured program that includes:

  • A formal recruitment and selection process that incorporates factors that make informal mentorship relationships successful.
  • Four hours of training and orientation for mentors and protégés.
  • Up to 80 hours of paid time over a six-month period (“mentorship cycle”) for meetings and activities in support of pre-approved goals.
  • Coaching and counseling support for program participants through the mentorship cycle.
  • A final celebration to facilitate closure of the mentorship relationship through acknowledging accomplishments of the participants and presenting a certificate of completion.

Phase 2 efforts are underway. We are considering various tools (intranet, community-based activities and partnerships) and processes (virtual and in-person learning and skill-development groups) to encourage and facilitate the formation and support of informal mentorship relationships.


  • Pilot program was successfully launched in 2006. Twelve participants (6 mentors and 6 protégés) were selected to participate from a pool of 20 applicants.
  • The program was fully implementated in 2007. Since then 25 mentors and 23 protégés have participated in formal mentoring relationships.
  • Significant positive results attributed to the Mentorship Program include:
    • Enhancement of cross-cultural awareness and the development of cultural competencies through cross-cultural mentoring relationships.
    • Eight protégés, whose goals for the Mentorship Program were to prepare for application to, complete application for, or successfully graduate from a program in library science have graduated from an ALA approved library science program.
    • More than 10 mentors (management positions) and protégés have successfully competed for promotions.
    • Of the 60 Program participants, one individual (protégé) was not satisfied with their match or the program. The Program Manager and an informal mentor are providing her additional coaching to help her achieve her goals.