PLA Inclusive Internship Initiative

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Table of Contents

Application Process

  • Q: How do I apply?
  • A: Application materials can be found at
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  • Q: Who should complete the application?
  • A: Ideally, the library staff person who will mentor the intern should complete the application. If that is not possible, please be sure to include the mentor's contact information in your application.
  • Q: How will applications be reviewed?
  • A: Representatives from PLA, YALSA, and ODLOS will review applications. Their decision will be based on the comprehensiveness of the library's plan for engaging interns in project design and development, its plan for sharing information with key stakeholders, and its capacity to support an intern.
  • Q: When is the application due?
  • A: Complete applications must be submitted by Monday, April 24, 2017.
  • Q: My library has already hired students as summer interns or volunteers. Can we still participate in this program?
  • A: Yes. If you already have an intern who meets the required guidelines and is interested in completing a connected learning project, they are welcome as an III participant.
  • Q: When will libraries be notified regarding acceptance into the program?
  • A: Applicants will be notified on or before Friday, May 5, 2017.
  • Q: My library is not able to participate in this program for summer 2017, but we are interested in future opportunities. Can I apply later or for another cycle?
  • A: Although PLA hopes to continue programs like this in the future, funding has only been secured for the summer of 2017. We cannot guarantee there will be another opportunity.

Intern Selection/Hiring

  • Q: How should the library go about identifying diverse intern candidates?
  • A: Host libraries will be responsible for identifying and selecting intern candidates who reasonably reflect the diversity of the local community. ALA's Spectrum Scholarship program and Century Scholars program offer guidance, but do not describe the entire universe of eligible populations. PLA trusts the participating library staff to select the best intern based on their knowledge of the surrounding community.
  • Q: How will the interns be selected?
  • A: It is the library's responsibility to identify, recruit, and manage the intern, including development of a job description. To ensure consistency across the pilot cohort, students will be selected by host sites based on academic standing; a short essay indicating their project preference and vision for its design, delivery, and impact; and a letter of recommendation from a teacher, other school official, community partner, or librarian. Students will also be asked to describe plans for sharing what they learn through social media and other contacts.
  • Q: Does the library need to receive permission from intern's guardians?
  • A: You may need to get permission for the intern's guardian for participation and travel. PLA suggests checking with your library's Human Resources department to verify its policies on this matter.
  • Q: When does the internship period begin and end?
  • A: You may begin working with an intern any time after your library receives notice of selection. All interns must be selected, and the required paperwork completed, prior to the kick-off event. The mentor and intern will decide the start and end dates based on school calendars and project timelines.
  • Q: How many interns may each participating library hire?
  • A: Assuming full participation, PLA can only provide support for one intern per library system. However, if fewer than 50 libraries apply, PLA may be able to support more than one intern per library. If your library is interested in hosting more than one intern, please indicate so on the application, with the understanding this is not a guarantee of receiving support for multiple interns.

Program Management

  • Q: What types of tasks may be given to the intern?
  • A: Per the program's guidelines, interns must spend most of their time developing and executing a connected learning project. For this project, mentors and interns will work together to develop a project that meets the library's needs while also developing the intern's existing skills, knowledge and interests. No more than 25% of the intern's time may be spent on administrative tasks such as data entry, photocopying, scanning, and filing.
  • Q: What is "connected learning?"
  • A: Connected learning is a type of learning that integrates personal interest, peer relationships, and achievement in academic, civic, or career-relevant areas.
  • Q: How many hours per week may the intern work?
  • A: Each participating library will need to consult with its Human Resources department and policies to determine how much an intern may work without violating local labor rules. The mentor and intern will determine the work schedule based on their availability and library policies. To complete the project and related requirements of the internship, PLA recommends a full-time equivalency (FTE) ratio between 0.75 and 0.9.
  • Q: Must the intern work in the Teen Services Department?
  • A: No. In fact, PLA encourages participating libraries to think beyond teen services in an effort to expose the intern to ideas, programs, and services areas across the library that they may be unfamiliar with.
  • Q: Will the interns be compensated?
  • A: Yes. PLA will provide the participating libraries with a flat rate of $15 an hour to pay the interns. This must cover any taxes, benefits or other deductions required by the participating library's policies and local labor laws. PLA anticipates that each library will receive a stipend of approximately $5,250 over the course of the summer ($15/hour x 35 hours/week x 10 weeks = $5250). The library will then be responsible for paying the intern as it would any other part time position or intern— this includes adjusting for taxes, benefits and reporting just as it is for other positions. Please confirm with your Human Resources department that the library can accommodate the internship program this before applying.
  • Q: Will mentors be paid?
  • A: No, the program does not include funds to compensate mentors for their participation.
  • Q: What should my library do if the funds in the stipend exceed the wages paid to my intern?
  • A: If this occurs, please reach out to Theresa Stroisch at
  • Q: What do I do if I need to "fire" an intern?
  • A: PLA understands that libraries need to follow their typical personnel policies, and that some interns may need to be dismissed during the project period, or may resign of their own accord. PLA will work with the library to determine if the opportunity to hire a new intern exists, depending on the timing of the departure. If a new intern is not hired, the library will still be asked to document the experience, and the mentor will still be expected to participate in the wrap-up event, to participate in the shared learning.
  • Q: May my library continue to employ the intern after the project period?
  • A: Yes, but PLA will not continue to pay the intern's wage after the project period has ended.

Communication Requirements

  • Q: Why are the mentors being asked to post on social media about their experiences?
  • A: PLA encourages participating mentors to use social media to strengthen connections with other program participants, raise the visibility of their intern's project, and increase awareness of the program among the broader library community and the public.
  • Q: What if the intern and/or mentor does not wish to use social media?
  • A: In this situation, PLA encourages the participating library to choose a different communication channel. The intern and/or mentor may share their experiences in a closed online forum or simply talk about the program with colleagues and friends.
  • Q: Why are mentors being asked to share information about the program among their fellow library staff?
  • A: PLA believes it is critical that the entire library's staff—not just the participating mentor and intern—understand the work being done as part of the project. This can be achieved through face-to-face meetings, updates on internal social media channels or intranet sites, and making program material available to all staff.
  • Q: Why are participating libraries being asked to share information about the program in the community?
  • A: In addition to the library's staff and stakeholders, PLA believes it is important for the public to understand the library's commitment to serving as inclusive reflection of the community. To connect with community decision-makers, libraries may facilitate interactions with interns in other city departments, bring interns to local government meetings, or arrange for interns to interview other staff, stakeholders, and partners.

PLA's Role

  • Q: How were the participating libraries selected for invitation?
  • A: PLA worked closely with the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), ALA's Office for Diversity, Literacy & Outreach Services (ODLOS), and state library partners, to identify libraries most likely to meet the pilot success indicators for this initiative. The program's management team looked at issues such as organizational capacity, community size and diversity, as well as demonstrated commitment to addressing challenges of equity, diversity, and inclusion. The applicant pool will not be limited only to those libraries initially invited to participate; if a library that was not on the original list contacts PLA and expresses interest, they will be invited to apply.
  • Q: How will PLA support participating libraries, mentors, and interns over the course of the project?
  • A: PLA will host an online meeting around the midway point in the internship period to provide an opportunity for participants to ask questions and interns to share information on their progress. PLA will also make a variety of resources available to participants, including:
    • A template from which libraries can create their internship application form;
    • Mentor training materials, developed with input from our partners at YALSA and ODLOS;
    • Administrative tools such as time sheets and activity-tracking checklists;
    • A workbook based on the content from the master class;
    • A list of best practices for interns; and
    • Internship certificates of completion.

    PLA will host monthly mentor only calls to check on interns' progress, share challenges and best practices, and identify opportunities for collaboration. Participating is strongly encouraged, but not mandatory.

  • Q: Will this project be evaluated?
  • A: Yes, PLA will evaluate both the process and content of the program. Participants will be asked to complete surveys both before and after the internship period. Select stakeholders may also be asked to participate in in-depth interviews.
  • Q: What will PLA do with everything it develops and learns through this project?
  • A: PLA hopes to sponsor this program again over future summers. We will use everything we make and learn to support future participation, including using evaluation results and success stories for fund-raising.


  • Q: What do we need to know about the kickoff event?
  • A: PLA will host a program kickoff in Washington, D.C. in mid-June. This event is intended to build the cohort's social connections and for participants to attend a master class that will provide basic information about library values, programs, services, and careers. Interns will also learn about the different undergraduate and graduate educational paths to librarianship as well as the financial rewards, work-life balance, and other benefits becoming a librarian. Details will be made available to the participants shortly after their application is approved.
  • Q: What do we need to know about the wrap-up event?
  • A: PLA will host a program wrap-up in Chicago in the early fall to recognize and celebrate participants. Each intern-mentor pair will make a presentation on their project and what they learned from it. Through this presentation, interns will describe how the project has impacted their education and career plans, and mentors will describe how their library will sustain the benefits attained through the project. Interns will also receive proof of participation to be used in college and job applications. Details will be made available to the participants several weeks in advance.
  • Q: Who should attend the kickoff and wrap up event?
  • A: All participating interns and mentors must attend the kickoff and wrap-up event. If you want to participate in III but have concerns about event attendance, please contact Theresa Stroisch at
  • Q: I am interested in being a presenter at the kickoff event; whom should I contact?
  • A: Please contact Theresa Stroisch at
  • Q: Will travel expenses for the kick-off and wrap-up events be covered?
  • A: PLA will cover the basic travel costs for the intern and mentor to attend the kickoff event in Washington, D.C. and the wrap-up event in Chicago. Funds and space are available for only one mentor and intern per library to participate. If the intern needs to travel with a guardian or caregiver, please contact Theresa Stroisch at

If the answer to your question is not covered in the FAQs above, please email Project Manager Theresa Stroisch at PLA will also field questions about the application process during a conference call scheduled for Thursday, April 13, at 12:00 p.m. Central Time.

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