Through the Dollar General and YALSA Internship Grant we were able to create an internship program at our public library this summer. This was the first time we were able to offer a summer internship and it was very well received, both by library staff members as well as in the community. With the help of additional funding, we were able to hire three interns who each worked a total of 75 hours over the summer months.
Our teen interns were juniors and seniors in high school, who had all participated in youth programm
ing at the public library for many years. It was helpful to have teens who were library users, participating in our internship program, because they already enjoyed many aspects of the library and blended easily into our work culture. Since we recruited library users, it was easy to find youth who were interested in participating, both through our teen programming and through word of mouth. It was also easy to keep them interested in the job throughout the summer, because they had invested interest in the tasks that they performed.
Because all of our interns had other commitments, such as jobs, activities and summer vacations, it was helpful to have three interns that could be rotated on our operating schedule. Rotating three inters meant that we could be more flexible with their scheduling, which worked well for all of us. It also gave us the opportunity to connect with several youth and gave them the chance to earn money, learn about their community and find out more about their public library.
Since we expanded our funds, we were able to have our teen interns on site throughout the summer. This gave them the chance to really be a part of our Summer Learning program. This also gave us extra help for larger programs and provided the teens with the opportunity to collaborate on special programs, such as our end of summer Maker Fair. Our teen interns worked closely with our library staff on outreach programming as well as programs and events that we offer through our Summer Learning program. Some of the things they worked on were prepping STEM challenges and craft projects, assisting youth during programming, creating advertisements for events, shelving and organizing the collection, and assisting with special collection projects. They were also available to help with our Summer Food and Fun program, which we facilitate through our local YMCA and the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. This is a free meal program that provides youth, ages 0-18, with a daily snack and lunch in our children’s department, during our Summer Learning programs and events.
All of the tasks that our teens performed gave them a chance to experience a cross section of how our public library operates, as well as a glimpse into the community that we serve. We also gave our teens the chance to express their opinions about the projects they put together for library programs. These things all helped to keep their interest sparked throughout their internship.
Kristen Janci is a Youth Coordinator at B.F. Jones Memorial Library.