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Education | | ILAB Mentoring Programme

ILAB Mentoring Programme

ILAB has recently launched the ILAB International Mentoring Programme. This programme aims to help young or recently launched booksellers throughout the world by offering support and counsel on a one to one basis.

Published on 22 Nov. 2017


The ILAB International Mentoring Programme gives experienced booksellers the opportunity to lend a hand in the early days of a bookseller’s career when help is likely most needed.

There is nothing new about this: throughout the history of the book trade booksellers have helped each other.  But as large bookselling firms grow fewer, apprenticeships are on the wane.  By formally offering a mentoring programme ILAB hopes that newer booksellers who might not know how, or whom, to approach for advice will find a colleague willing to continue this tradition. 

Please click on the headings to the left for more information about the programme, or the link below to go directly to a list of mentors. 


"We can now envisage such situations as a Dutch mentor supporting a young American bookseller, an American mentor helping a young Russian bookseller or an Australian mentor chatting regularly with their mentee in Malaysia. It is also just as likely that the mentor and mentee might be within the same country or city – there are far fewer limitations than there have ever been.
Communication between dealers across the world now is easy and inexpensive. This has created an opportunity for our trade to work together helping less experienced booksellers where ever they may be located to develop their businesses and become better, more confident and effective members of our trade within a much shorter time than they might otherwise be able to without a mentor." Sally Burdon, ILAB Vice-President 

We invite you to take a look at the next pages where you will see our “foundation” mentors listed. You will find there a diverse and impressive group of booksellers who reflect just some of the many different types of successful booksellers who comprise our trade. Prospective mentees are invited to visit the site and nominate the mentor they feel would be right for them. The prospective mentee sends a completed form together with the names of the mentor to ILAB who check availability and as best they can the likely success of the match. Following this the prospective mentor and mentee will have a chat, ideally in person at a book fair or some other mutually convenient place – but if this is not possible by Skype or phone to meet each other. After this initial meeting if the two booksellers feel they can work together the mentor/mentee relationship will be formally established. Once the mentor relationship has been established the recommended contact is for the two booksellers to speak for a minimum of one hour each month over the course of a year, but exactly how it works in practice will be up to the two people involved.

All of the mentors involved in the ILAB International Mentor Program are drawn from ILAB ranks and are acting in a voluntary capacity. The mentees will not be required to make any payment for mentoring. The booksellers who are being mentored will not be named on the ILAB site, unless of course they would like to be.

The mentees may or may not be current ILAB members although we do expect those seeking to be mentored to be serious about pursuing a career in the trade.

Do you know someone who might benefit from having a mentor?

Please tell them about this programme and invite them to take part. We believe that the ILAB International Mentor Programme is one of the ways to secure a positive future for our trade.


Testimonial from mentored bookseller, Milly Hughes, November 2017:

I started trading in June 2016. Having been absent from the book trade for a few years I was heartened to see the changes that have occurred in the mean time. Changes that now make it easier for people to start their careers in antiquarian books, as well as the support now available to new dealers, such as the ILAB mentorship programme. 

I expressed my interest to take part in May 2017 and it was not long before I was put in touch with Tom Lintern-Mole from Antiquates. His help and support have  been invaluable to me. It was at Tom’s suggestion that I applied for the PBFA scholarship and subsequently attended the York Antiquarian Book Seminar. I have also recently become a member of the PBFA and will be manning my first book fair stand in 2018. In due course I plan to apply to join the ABA. 

This may feel like an obvious progression to people well established in the trade, but back in May it felt unattainable to me. Not only has the ILAB mentorship programme been very informative, as Tom has generously shared his time with me and answered all my many questions, it has also given me a confidence in my own abilities and sense of place within the trade that was somewhat lacking before.

For further information, please contact the Mentoring Programme Coordinators via:  


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