How to Gain Experience


Work in a public library. Find an internship (See the iSchool Internships site for a variety of physical and virtual internships).

Vary your experience as much as possible – help plan programs; if you are interested in youth services, lead a story time; develop or contribute to Web services; work at the reference desk; or work in technical services. Do not limit your options at this point! In fact, varied and broad experience can be a career asset.

Check out your local public libraries and inquire about internship possibilities if you can’t find something that works for you through the school. If you don’t have time to commit to an internship, public libraries are often looking for volunteers. Having experience is key to finding a position as a public librarian.

Another great way to gain experience is by getting involved with one of the many student chapters of library associations. The SJSU iSchool hosts thriving chapters of ALA, ASIS&T, and SLA. Joining the Public Library Association (PLA) or your state library association are also great ways to get involved and make connections!

For more tips, see Kim Dority’s Infonista blog: Ten Tips for Building your Career While in Grad School.

And if you are close to completing your degree, or have just finished and are looking for librarian work, consider applying for jobs as a substitute, temporary, or on-call librarian. This can be a way to gain experience and network while looking for your full-time “dream” job. See iSchool alumna Emily Weak’s Community Profile and Resume as an example of someone who successfully transitioned from several part-time positions to full-time employment. And check out her Library 2.012 presentation (with Sarah Naumann) on How Bay Area Libraries Use On-Call Librarians (see the transcript and slide show or watch a Collaborate recording).