Inclusive Internship Initiative

PLA Inclusive Internship Initiative (III) logo

Frequently Asked Questions

Before applying, please take a few minutes to review the sample MOU and program guidelines. Selected host libraries—or a fiscal partner like a Foundation of Friends group—will need to fully execute the MOU. Libraries need to commit to uncompensated mentor time in the library at the in-person events.

Questions About the Application

How do I apply?

The application to host an intern over Summer 2020 is now open, and will close on February 3, 2020:

Who is eligible to apply?

Any public library in the US is welcome to apply. Small, rural, tribal, and pueblo libraries are strongly encouraged to apply.

My community is not very diverse, should I apply?

Yes. We encourage you to think broadly about diversity and inclusivity. In addition to race or ethnicity, think about gender and gender identity, physical ability, teens currently not in school or those experiencing housing insecurity. These are just a few examples, there may be other populations in your community from which to draw an intern.

What is the deadline to apply?

Applications will be accepted from January 6–February 3, 2020 at 5:00 PM Central.

How are applications reviewed?

Representatives from PLA and past III mentors will review application and select participants based on demonstrated willingness to support the goals of III.

When will I be notified if my library is accepted?

Accepted libraries will be notified by March 9, 2020. This is a competitive application process and we regret we may not be able to accept all applicants.

Do I need to re-apply if I have applied or participated in the past?

Yes, you will need to apply again. Preference will be given to libraries that have not previously participated.

Questions About Program Expectations

What kind of paperwork is necessary between my library and PLA?

Upon acceptance, PLA and the library will sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU). The library will also need to submit a W-9 to receive the $3,500 stipend. Once the intern is selected, PLA will send a second round of paperwork, including a permission slip to be signed by intern’s parent/guardian.

Can my library’s Foundation or Friends group sign the MOU in order to accept the stipend on the library’s behalf?

Yes. In fact, PLA encourages this as a best practice in libraries that have such groups.

What are the participant and program expectations?

Each mentor-intern pair is expected to attend a kick-off event, develop a community-based project based on intern’s interests and library goals, participate in virtual training and networking, and attend a wrap-up event. Mentors should expect to spend at least 5 hours a week on direct intern support. Interns may only spend 25% of their time on administrative tasks like copying, filing, scanning, etc. For project inspiration, here are some examples of what past interns have worked on:

  • Inter-generational LGBTQ+ community roundtable
  • Outreach to teens held in local temporary detention center
  • Audio engineering and videography workshops to create a music video
  • Library resource booklet for at-risk youth: how to get your GED, clear criminal records, look for jobs
  • Local history digitization project
  • Translation of library policy and rules documents
  • Naturalization Study Group for community members with transitional immigration statuses
  • Digital literacy training for Chinese speaking senior citizens

Questions About Mentors

Who should be a mentor?

Mentors can be any staff that is responsible for developing and implementing public-facing programs or services. We encourage you to look beyond teen services staff when considering mentors. Check to make sure mentoring will not require a job description change or violate union rules.

Do mentors get paid?

No, we cannot pay mentors. We will be able to cover their travel expenses related the kick-off and wrap-up event.

Can the library have a mentoring team?

Yes, having a mentoring team is a great way to expand an intern’s experience and while being sensitive to staff time and responsibilities. We ask that one mentor be identified as the intern manager.

Questions About Interns

Who should be an intern?

We suggest students who are between entering their junior year of high school but have not yet started college (approximately 16–19 years old). Participating libraries will be responsible for identifying and hiring their intern.

How are interns hired?

It is the responsibility of the library to recruit and hire an intern.

Do interns get paid?

Yes. PLA will issue a check for $3,500 to each participating library. PLA suggests that libraries route the grant check through their foundation or friends group. The library is responsible for establishing the intern’s hourly wage and determining how the funds will be administered to the intern. These funds must be used for direct intern support. They cannot be used for overheard, or related costs. Please check with your HR department regarding local laws and policies for tax and benefits withholding.

How many hours a week should interns work?

In order to have adequate time to develop their community-based project, interns should commit to this internship being their primary summer responsibility. With that said, there is no minimum weekly work requirement. It is up to the mentor and intern to determine the intern’s schedule. Past libraries have been successful by scheduling interns to work 30–35 hours a week for 10–12 weeks. Though not required, the library is also welcome to pay their intern for their time at the kick off and wrap up event.

How many interns can I have?

PLA can support one (1) intern per library, and an overall cohort of 50 libraries.

Questions About Events and Related Expenses

What is the kick-off event?

The kick-off event is June 19–21, 2020 in Washington, DC. The entire cohort will come together for master class sessions on common library programs and services, practice good intern and mentor skills, and network with one another. PLA has funding to cover all travel expenses for each mentor-intern pair.

What is the wrap up event?

The wrap-up event in September 25–27, 2020 in Chicago. Each intern will make a 5-minute presentation on their III experience. Career and college readiness resources will round out the experience. PLA has funding to cover all travel expenses for each mentor-intern pair.

What travel expenses are covered?

PLA has funding to cover all travel expenses for each mentor-intern pair. This funding is separate from the intern’s $3,500 stipend. Travel expenses include hotel lodging, airfare, airport parking, taxis or mileage to/from the airport, and all meals. More information will be provided to selected libraries.

Hey! You didn’t answer my question!

We’d be happy to. Drop us a line at and we will get right back to you.

Also, a free, "office hours"-type webinar was presented on January 7, 2020 at 1:00 PM Central. During the webinar, past III mentors shared their insights and experiences from participating in this program; and PLA staff went over the application process, deadlines, and program requirements. PLA staff and past mentors answered questions about applying to or participating in the program. View the webinar recording.

For more information, please see the Guidelines.