Inclusive Internship Initiative

PLA Inclusive Internship Initiative (III) logo

Group photo of some previous Inclusive Internship Initiative participants

Between 2017 and 2021, one hundred and ninety-eight high school students from 119 libraries across forty-four states participated in the Inclusive Internship Initiative (III). III was designed to provide high-school-aged students from diverse backgrounds with paid, mentored internships in local public libraries. Students had the opportunity to experience the work of librarianship firsthand and explore how to use their talents and perspectives to impact their communities. PLA sponsored four national cohorts from 2017–2021 with funding from a preprofessional Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Participating in III brought changes to interns, mentors, and host libraries.

  • 75% of intern alumni that participated in a retrospective survey reported that they either had post-III work experiences related to libraries, archives, museums, or related organizations, or are still interested in pursuing these experiences.
  • Mentors gained supervisory experience, grew networks, and expanded understanding of how race, equity, diversity, and social justice are experienced in the library.
  • Libraries implemented new, intern-generate programs that brought new audiences is, changed approached to engaging teens, and in some cases, changed hiring practices in to increase staff diversity.

Photo of two previous Inclusive Internship Initiative participantsThrough III, PLA and participants developed a wealth of resources for planning and supporting a successful internship program. To support libraries interested in launching their own internship program, PLA is pleased to offer the Inclusive Internship Toolkit: A Practical Guide for Teen Internships, available as a free download.

This toolkit includes resources across the lifespan on an internship program, from internal planning and budgeting, to recruiting, to managing interns and their project work, to sustaining learning after the internship period. In the toolkit, you will find templates, stories and best practices, and a wealth of outcome to data. We hope you will use these tools to launch your own internship program, sustaining the sprit and good work of III.

If you have any questions, please contact Mary Hirsh at