Skip to Main Content
Skip to content

Library and Information Science: UI Libraries-SLIS Mentoring Program

Mentoring program details

Student – Librarian Mentoring Program at the UI Libraries

The University of Iowa Libraries has a popular mentoring program in which students in the School of Library and Information Science (SLIS) are paired with an academic librarian for a semester or longer.

For the Libraries, mentoring experiences provide the opportunity for staff to work with motivated students to enrich the experience of future librarians and to assist them in understanding the full spectrum of work in an academic library.

For SLIS students, the experience provides the opportunity to put into practice the theoretical framework provided in the classroom, the opportunity to learn more about an aspect of academic research librarianship as a career option, regular contact with a library professional, socialization into the profession, and the chance to form valuable professional networking ties.

The mentor/mentee experience is:

  • Unpaid with no class credit
  • About 20 hours over the course of one semester or summer session.
  • Structured by the mentor and mentee, in which regular contact is expected, but specifics of the experience and meeting schedule are set by the two individuals involved.
  • Designed to increase the professional competency of the SLIS student and to serve as an enriching experience, acquainting him or her with other librarians in the department, their work, and academic librarianship in general.
  • Are understood by the student to carry expectations regarding punctuality, effort, communication.


  • Katie DeVries Hassman, SLIS Liaison, posts a call to SLIS students who would like to participate at the beginning of each semester.
  • Students are matched with librarians in their areas of interest when possible. Priority will be given to SLIS students graduating the following May of the academic year.
  • There is no guarantee that every interested student will have a librarian mentor.

Mentoring is what you make it.

  • Guidelines for the mentoring program are broad and open ended to allow students and librarians to work out a mutually satisfying mentoring relationship.
  • Some mentorships will only involve meetings and discussions between mentor and student. Other mentorships may include assisting with an ongoing task or special project.
  • Students and mentors should discuss expectations, meeting times, and goals at the beginning of each mentorship

Examples of mentoring experiences:

  • Observe or assist a liaison librarian with research meetings, reference shits, or instruction
  • Participate in ongoing departmental work with mentor or create a project to work on
  • Discuss librarian’s career path and professional development activities in relation to student’s interests
  • Shadow librarians in their work (attend meetings with a faculty member, observe cataloging or the repair of books)
  • Attend professional and committee meetings with librarians

SLIS Mentee Application

Please submit your statement of interest in the mentorship program using the survey link provided.


Descriptions of Units/Departments of Past Participating Mentors

  • Access Services consists of several departments and areas, of which a mentee will be mentored by the Head of Access Services. The Circulation department handles all transactions related to the checking in and checking out of materials, including sending materials to campus offices and other campus libraries. The Course Reserves department handles all transactions related to placing materials, including streaming video, on reserve for a class. The Bookstacks department handles the shelving of returned and new books as well as maintenance of the collection. The Interlibrary Loan/Document Delivery department handles requests for materials (PDFs of articles/book chapters as well as books) not owned or not available through the UI libraries. The off-side storage facility (Library Annex) is managed under the Access Services umbrella. Access Services also works closely with the Learning Commons and Research and Library Instruction departments to provide an integrated service point.
  • Acquisitions & Electronic Resources Management involves the process of selecting, ordering, and receiving materials and electronic resources for the library. Procedures include interfacing and communication with publishers and vendors. Work activities that are performed in Acquisitions also include claiming missing materials, analyzing vendor offers, reviewing licenses for electronic resources, working with the ILS and link resolver software, and resolving problems with electronic access to paid resources.
  • Cataloging/Metadata
    • Cataloging: Students will be exposed to cataloging theory and methods in a research library. Mentees will learn and produce online catalog records using current mark-up language, cataloging standards, and Library of Congress guidelines. Special collections, foreign language, and multi-format cataloging will also be explored. As desired, students can attend a variety of relevant meetings.
    • Metadata involves analyzing digital collections to create access plans for a variety of archival and manuscript materials. Vocabulary is controlled using several different thesauri. Other work involves the recycle and transformation of external metadata for Electronic Theses and Dissertation to fit the requirements of the University’s institutional repository and its online catalog. Various software programs and markup tools are employed to transform the encoding structure, content rules and character display of metadata sets. Collaborative meetings are held bi-weekly with representatives of other units involved in the selection, planning, and implementation of digital projects and the institutional repository.
  • Collection Management involves the development and management of the library’s collections (print and electronic). Work involves identifying materials to purchase and projecting future needs for the collection, assessment of existing resources, and special projects such as de-selection, analyzing expenditures, and reviewing all subscription orders. It also includes interfacing and building relationships with faculty and students to identify research and curricular needs.
  • Digital Preservation: Digitization of collections of all types—books, letters, photos, maps, slides, tapes, films, records, and more—is managed by the Preservation & Conservation department. The Libraries’ digitization operation has recently been centralized and streamlined with the creation of two new librarian positions, a Digital Processing Coordinator Librarian, and a Digital Preservation Librarian. A mix of in-house and outsourced digitization and processing is closely integrated with Conservation review and treatment, and with metadata, public presentation, and long-term management of digital content. Staffs work closely with colleagues in Digital Research and Publishing, Cataloging-Metadata, Library IT, and with collection managers and curators. By taking a lifecycle approach to managing digital collections, the Preservation & Conservation department is leading the Libraries’ efforts to build the capacity and infrastructure needed to create high-quality digital collections, and to preserve and provide access to them for future generations.
  • Digital Preservation & Publishing explores ways that academic libraries can best leverage digital collections, resources, and expertise to support faculty, student, and citizen scholars by: collaborating on interdisciplinary scholarship built upon digital collections, offering publishing services to support sustainable scholarly communication, engaging the community through participatory digital initiatives such as crowdsourcing, promoting widespread use and reuse of the University’s archives and digital repositories, and exploring innovative new technologies like digital mapping and linked data that support digital research and publishing.
  • Hardin Library for the Health Sciences: Librarians at Hardin provide services to academic health science programs and clinical departments within the hospital, in the form of classroom lectures, reference services, curriculum integrated instruction, hands-on training sessions, individual consultations, and delivery of online instructional materials. Students would be encouraged to observe or participate in any of these activities with guidance and would be made aware of other opportunities that arise.
  • Management: Mentoring with a library department manager will give you perspective on how a specific department interacts and works with other library departments, how work as a manager requires one to think strategically, and will expose you to issues related to supervising and coordinating the work of staff.
  • Research & Library Instruction, Main Library: All librarians in this department serve as liaisons to academic departments, and in some cases to larger constituent groups (for example, we have an Undergraduate Services Librarian). The primary activities of RLI Librarians are instruction, outreach, research help, and collection development.
  • Research & Instruction, Branch Library (Business, Sciences, Engineering): The librarians in these libraries do all the same work as the Research & Library Instruction librarians, with the added perspective of being embedded into the departments to which they serve.
  • Special Collections & Archives: Students interested in mentoring with staff in Special Collections and University Archives will be exposed to many of the traditional functions of an academic library, but they’ll have the chance to see those functions applied within the specific context of special collections librarianship. Students may have the opportunity to see how rare materials and archives are used in the classroom; how they’re used in events, exhibits, and social media; how they’re used by researchers in the reading room, and by librarians answering reference queries. There may be opportunities to see how rare materials are acquired, how they are processed and cataloged, and how they are housed and preserved.

Katie DeVries Hassman

Librarian for: Anthropology, Sociology & Criminology, Library & Information Science, Linguistics, Gender, Women's &  Sexuality Studies

Adjunct Instructor, School of Library & Information Science