Internships, Fellowships, & Residencies for Academic Librarianship

iStudent Blog

Published: June 9, 2024 by Kesheena Doctor

For iSchool students, finding the right entry level position that fits your interests can be difficult. For those on the academic librarianship MLIS career pathway, internships, residencies and fellowships can be excellent professional development opportunities for iSchool students and early career librarians.

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) defines internships as work experiences gained while in an MLIS program but taken before a degree is awarded. Residencies are entry-level programs for recent MLIS graduates, and fellowships are positions that help librarians with some experience further develop a specific skill set and/or area of expertise.

Seeking Help from Faculty Advisors 

As a new iSchool student, I had little familiarity with the many types of library positions available for academic librarians. I reviewed many of the resources provided by the iSchool, and many suggested meeting with a faculty advisor. In my second semester, I met with former faculty advisor, Dr. Maria Otero-Boisvert, to get information on how to get a job in the academic field. Dr. Otero-Boisvert recommended getting internship experience while a MLIS student and applying for a residency when I graduated. I had never heard of a librarian residency before, but Dr. Otero-Boisvert assured me that this was a great way to get into academic librarianship and gain the experience that I wanted.


The iSchool offers INFO 294 Internships for students who want to earn credit for their intern position and have a continually updated list of both in-person and virtual internship opportunities. INFO 294 does require some planning. iSchool students must complete INFO 200, INFO 202, INFO 203, INFO 204, have completed 9 elective units before taking INFO 294, maintain at least a 3.0 GPA, and submit their Professional Experience: Internship – Student Application form at least 2 months before the semester of the internship starts.  iSchool students also have the option of taking an internship without credit.

Residencies and Fellowships

For recent graduates, residencies and fellowships are a great way to get practical experience in the academic librarian field. Many of these positions target underrepresented groups to help diversify the largely white female demographic of the field, but unless otherwise noted, anyone can apply. These positions are typically non-tenure and are fixed term, but permanent positions may be available once the residency/fellowship ends. These positions are also beneficial as they offer professional development, key training in specific areas, and competitive wages, which are all helpful to new academic librarians.

Assess Your Needs First

When looking at internships, residencies and fellowships, having an understanding of your career goals is very important. As iSchool students, we may not have a defined set of goals yet, but coming up with some parameters is a good step in looking for an academic position. Some important factors to consider are location, the job’s focus areas, type of institution and size, and benefits. If you are unsure of what you want in these areas, having a list of no’s is a good place to start.

What to Seek in a Position

When reviewing postings for internships, residencies and fellowship, look at the job descriptions and see what the job expectations are, as well as compensation and benefits. Residencies and fellowships often have a professional development component, including mentoring, a stipend for conferences, or tuition waivers for continuing education at the institution. If an information session is offered, I highly recommend going as they often provide a lot more details about the position and the application process. There is also often an opportunity to meet with faculty and staff that you would be working day-to-day with. Lastly, if you know anyone at the university you are interested in applying to, email them! The colleagues in our future field are very nice and welcoming and are often willing to chat about their academic library.

Additional Resources

If you are interested in applying for these types of academic library positions, I have provided some resources. The Library of Congress has a robust internship, fellowship, and residencies program that offers opportunities throughout the year. The North Carolina State University Libraries Fellows Program is a competitive fellowship program that offers new academic librarians the chance to work on innovative services in a technologically advanced library. The Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) has a Residency Interest Group that provides information about residencies and a job announcement section. The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) also has a page for opportunities. Professional associations also post new opportunities with their email mailing list.

iSchool Resources for Applications

Once you decide to apply for an internship, fellowship, or residency, the iSchool offers many services for job seekers and are listed below:

Have you participated in any internship opportunities or have been accepted into a library residency or fellowship program? Please share your experience in the comments.