Mentor Roles and Responsibilities

Mentor Roles and Responsibilities

As a mentor there are many roles you can play. Some of these roles are overtly career related, while others are centered on providing social support. We hope you bring your unique personality and strengths to the mentoring relationship, but the following list includes roles you are encouraged to take on and expectations for the program.

Psychosocial Roles

  • Role Model – provide an excellent professional example
  • Encourager – provide emotional support and positive feedback; enhance competence and self efficacy
  • Counselor – provide a forum for discussion of career issues; discover issues affecting the mentee’s success; listen
  • Colleague / Friend – accept mentee as a valued peer; provide respect and friendship

Vocational Roles

  • Coach – teach; challenge; evaluate knowledge and skills
  • Consultant – assist with the navigation of professional settings, institutions, structures, and politics
  • Sponsor – increase mentee exposure to other librarians; refer mentees to others; promote mentee’s talents
  • Advisor – provide advice when adverse forces negatively affect mentee’s work or role; facilitate professional development


Commit to a Relationship

  • Be willing to commit to the 1-year program
  • Listen and learn
  • Establish relationship/build rapport with assigned mentee

Provide Professional Development

  • Help to establish goals and expectations of mentee
  • Provide general guidance and support
  • Help resolve problems/difficulties in accomplishing goals and expectations
  • Give professional career-related advice
  • Facilitate professional networking and contacts
  • Help acclimate mentee to IS / ACRL / ALA

Be Reliable and Adaptable

  • Be available for questions/consultation as needed by mentee
  • Communicate with mentee on regular basis
  • Be open to modifications of mentor/fellow relationships if needed
  • Recommended: Attend IS functions/events when possible


American Psychological Association. 2006. Introduction to Mentoring: A Guide for Mentors and Mentees.  Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Johnson, W. Brad, and Charles R. Ridley. 2008. The Elements of Mentoring. 2nd ed. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Kram, Kathy E. 1988. Mentoring at Work: Developmental Relationships in Organizational Life. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.

PDF Version of Mentor Roles and Responsibilities

Last revised: June 26, 2015

Previous version: December 5, 2007