Inclusive Internship Initiative

PLA Inclusive Internship Initiative (III) logo

About the Inclusive Internship Initiative

The Public Library Association’s Inclusive Internship Initiative (III) offers paid, summer-long internships to high school students at their local public library. Over the course of the summer, each intern works with their library mentor on a community-based learning project. Through III, students from diverse backgrounds are introduced to careers in librarianship, library mentors practice leadership skills, and host libraries grow new audiences through outreach and programming. To learn more about what to expect from hosting an III intern at your library, check out this article in Programming Librarian.

III consists of:

  • A competitive application process to be selected as a host library
  • Recruitment of an intern from a background representing the diversity of the local community
  • A kick-off event to introduce interns to a variety of library services, and build relationships among the national cohort of participants
  • A community-based project reflective of the intern’s interests and library goals
  • Online learning and networking to support intern and mentor knowledge, skills, and confidence
  • A final wrap-up event, to share experiences and place the internship in the context of college and career readiness

This program is supported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, grant RE-00-17-0129-17.

III’s Impact

Public libraries represent the diversity of the communities they serve. In alignment with PLA’s strategic goal of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Social Justice, III was piloted in 2017 as a pathway program to increase diversity in public librarianship. Since its inception, 152 high school students at 117 libraries in 42 states have learned about careers in librarianship.

Through community-based projects developed by the interns, many libraries have been able to reach new audiences and create partnerships that had not been possible before. In the 2018 evaluation, 99% of responses reported that the intern’s projects were rated as highly valuable by both interns and mentors.

“We are very excited that this program enabled us to build an ongoing partnership with the public high school, which [serves] primarily a minority population. We will be assisting students throughout the school year with resumes, interviews, and other job prep.”

– Mentor, Summer 2018

“[This program] made me even more determined to make longer term, rich relationships with partners serving teens we don’t see so we can know them and serve them where they are.”

– Mentor, Summer 2018

Participating libraries have discovered ways to create sustainable teen internships within their own communities.

“We are working on funding our own inclusivity-focused internships thanks to this program.”

– Mentor, Summer 2018

“The library has decided that once the internship ends, I will become a part-time librarian! I am very excited and this internship continues to influence and affect my life.”

– Intern, Summer 2018

After participating in III, 90% of interns from the 2018 cohort viewed librarianship as a viable, rewarding and meaningful career path.

“I am so thankful for this amazing once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that not only has expanded my knowledge of library resources, but it has also connected me with people across the United States and has taken me places that no other job or internship has or most likely ever will.”

– Intern, Summer 2018

Project-based learning is a core component of III. By brainstorming and developing projects they are passionate about, teens are able to engage with learning in a new way.

“The support and training I get [from PLA] is very different from the support I get at school... it is very hands-on and not just being given the information.”

– Intern, Summer 2018

The Inclusive Internship Initiative is paused for summer 2022. If you have any questions about III, please contact