Pursuing a Dream

Preparing new generation of library professionals

As a middle school student, Jeneva Claiborne discovered her passion for books. “None of my friends were big readers, and I went to a school where there weren’t a lot of opportunities. I was lucky, and had a teacher who showed me how books can open your mind. She told me about ImaginOn, and I was hooked.”

Today, Jeneva is much more than hooked on ImaginOn – she’s a summer intern. Through a new Inclusive Internship Initiative, the Public Library Association is sponsoring paid, mentored library internships for 50 high school juniors and seniors from diverse backgrounds across the country. With guidance from a staff mentor, each intern will engage with multiple facets of library life, from administration to programming to user services, and over the course of the summer, interns and mentors will develop and complete a project.

Jeneva’s mentor is Holly Summers-Gil, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library’s teen services coordinator – not because Jeneva is a teen, but because she’s interested in a career in teen services, helping other teens discover the world through books and writing.  Jeneva’s chosen project is to develop book club kits for teens, which she hopes will encourage more teens to see reading as a social activity. Jeneva is doing everything from selecting titles to developing discussion questions and activities. She’s also assisting with programs in ImaginOn’s Teen Loft, and will be rotating through other Library departments. Holly Summers-Gil explains, “I think one of the most valuable parts of this experience is the opportunity for Jeneva to have exposure to all the specializations within the Library field. She’s learning a lot about teen services, but she’ll also learn about outreach, collection management, circulation, administration, the Idea Box, and all the behind-the-scenes functions of a Library.”

The program is designed to benefit both the Library and the intern. Library staff will better understand early career pathways to librarianship and gain appreciation for their role and impact in supporting diversity along those paths. Students will better understand the many ways librarians positively serve their communities, and gain the tools to make decisions about the educational directions that will lead them into library service and leadership. Interns will also connect with one another, and mentors across the country, to share what they are learning and doing through live and virtual channels, creating a ripple effect of learning and awareness.

So far, all of this exposure has deepened Jeneva’s commitment and love of libraries. “I plan to attend community college in the fall, and ultimately transfer to a Library Studies program. I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to learn and get closer to my personal and professional goals. I was meant to be a librarian.”

The Inclusive Internship Initiative is funded by PLA with support from a pre-professional Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Additional information can be found at https://apply.ala.org/plinterns.

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