Valuing Library and Archives (LA) Labor: Assessing Internship Implications for the LA Community

It is widely accepted that internships are important in library and archives professional training and they correlate positively with career prospects. Yet the potential costs, particularly of unpaid internships, for diversity and inclusion, and to community engagement capacities are understudied. This is a 3-year empirical investigation into the implications of internships for recruiting, training, developing, and retaining a diverse workforce prepared to engender social wellbeing through U.S. libraries and archives (LA). Based on a pilot study of LA professional education internships, the project will answer the following research questions: RQ1: What are the incidence and structure of internships within LA (a) education programs and (b) institutions? What is the ratio of unpaid vs. paid internships? RQ2: What needs do internships meet for LA stakeholders (student and early career workers, employers, faculty and administrators, granting agencies, community partners)? What do stakeholders consider internships’ value to be in: (a) skill and professional development, and (b) community engagement capacity? How does compensation impact the perceived value of intern training, career development, and satisfaction? RQ3: What are the costs and benefits of internships for LA community engagement capacity and workforce equity, particularly for workers from minority populations? How do internship programs in partnership with local organizations promote diversity and community engagement, and how could they be scaled up in sustainable ways? This study combines quantitative survey-based and qualitative ethnographic approaches to collect and analyze data on LA internships’ incidence and structure [RQ1], needs fulfilled and value [RQ2], and short- and long-term implications for diverse LA stakeholders and efforts to engender social wellbeing through partnerships with non-profit and community organizations [RQ3]. “

Grant Info


Marika Cifor

Start Date

Aug 1, 2019