Tuesday, December 4, 2012
The Mentoring Model and Louis H. Sullivan's Career
I recently completed a peer-reviewed article that has been published in The Idaho Librarian.
"What Librarians Can Learn About the Mentoring Model Through the Professional Career of Louis H. Sullivan."Abstract
American architect Louis H. Sullivan designed many buildings in turn-of-the-century America, including some of the first skyscrapers (Figures 2, 3, & 4). These high-rising edifices represented a new age of possibilities and hope; however, before designing skyscrapers, Sullivan’s imagination soared with the lofty ideas shared by his contemporaries. Walt Whitman, Herbert Spencer, and Hippolyte Taine expanded Sullivan’s intellectual horizons and fostered his ambitions. These idea men served as his mentors and motivated him to aspire higher, which eventually influenced his architectural designs and professional writings, thus inspired a rising generation architects.
Likewise, librarians can gain inspiration from Louis Sullivan’s reading experience and professional career. First, librarians can act as mediators and introduce patrons to authors who then act as mentors. Second, experienced librarians can recommend reading material to young professionals in the field that enhances their professional development. Third, experienced librarians can serve as mentors by writing books and articles that inspire imagination and creativity while also challenging younger librarians to take risks.
Additionally, Sullivan’s Autobiography of an Idea (1956) supports a thesis statement given by Barbara Sicherman (1989) that librarians should remember: “Reading is not simply a passive form of cultural consumption, that something happens to readers that becomes imperative for them to understand, and that reading stimulates desire rather than simply pacifying it” (p. 216). Reading the writings of some of his great contemporaries fueled a lifelong passion for learning in Sullivan that found expression his architectural designs as well as his writing, thus leaving a lasting mark on American architecture and culture. In this way Sullivan models the mentoring process: learning, acting, and sharing.