Guideline UL-HRG18 Library Internships

Main Policy Content

  • Purpose
  • Definition of an Internship
  • Information for Departments Accepting Interns
  • Procedures for Departments Accepting Interns
  • Attachment
  • Cross References


To outline the process for accepting students as interns in the Libraries. The Libraries supports an active internship program. In addition to training the next generation of librarians and other professionals, it is a means to engage talented individuals in furthering Libraries' strategic initiatives.

In general, the Libraries encourages departments to work with student interns when the relationship will be mutually beneficial, providing learning opportunities for the students in their disciplines or majors and bringing skills and experience related to the Libraries’ department.

In addition, student internships help to expose interns to the professional role of the librarian and/or staff, give them experience in the Libraries, and provide an avenue for potential recruitment of new librarians.


Internships are time-limited, professional work experiences that enable students to apply classroom knowledge to the realities of the workplace.

  • Internships differ from work in their emphasis on student learning and should be in the students’ fields of study or desired career. 
  • Internships should be structured and viewed as academic/educational experiences rather than employment opportunities. 
  • Internships should not be used to augment the workforce or to displace paid staff.
  • Internships may be paid or unpaid (if funded by an endowment, refer to appropriate guidelines for the endowment).
  • Internships may be for-credit or not-for-credit.
  • Internships may be filled by students of Penn State or other academic institutions.
  • Internships are designed to last one to two semesters. Fall, spring, and summer internships are possible. The scope of the internship project should be structured so it will be completed within the allotted timeframe.

Examples of recent internships in the Libraries: Bednar Internships, PA Center for the Book (English students), Clarion University (Library Science students)


  1. Interns should not be used to displace paid staff, depended upon to perform the routine work of the department on a regular and recurring basis, or to be used to augment the workforce.
  2. Internship goals and work should be assigned, as appropriate, based on the student’s coursework, skills, and experience. The level of work should be appropriate for the student’s qualifications and should be designed to provide a learning opportunity. The supervisor and intern should agree on clear learning objectives for the internship assignment.
  3. It is the decision of a supervisor or library department to accept an intern. No supervisor or department should feel obligated to accept them. In addition to the specific projects that comprise the internship, there may be an opportunity for the intern to learn about the operations of the unit to which he or she is assigned.
  4. If a supervisor is contacted directly and agrees to direct the internship, in consultation with his or her department head, the supervisor should follow the procedure outlined below to formalize the agreement.
  5. If a supervisor is contacted directly but is unwilling or unable to direct the internship, he or she should forward the request to the appropriate department head to identify other possible opportunities based on the student’s interests and expertise. The supervisor who accepts the internship is then responsible for following the procedure outlined below to formalize the agreement.
  6. Because interns should work under close supervision, the supervisor should consider his/her workload for the period of the internship, his/her expertise in the intern’s area of study, the internship requirements from the intern’s college or institution, and other factors that may have an impact on the successful completion of the internship.
  7. In selecting an intern, the supervisor should evaluate the student’s preparation and qualifications through a personal interview, review the educational institution’s internship policies, consult with the student’s advisor or other faculty member, and if appropriate, consult with other references. 
  8. In the case of for-credit internships, the student should provide the supervisor with any pertinent internship requirements of the college. The supervisor is responsible for completing in a timely manner, all paperwork required by the student’s college or institution. The supervisor must also clarify his or her obligations in accepting the internship, including such things as grading, evaluation, and documenting the student’s work. 
  9. Unpaid interns are covered by University liability insurance if it is determined that they have been injured in the course of their work due to University negligence. Paid interns are covered under Worker’s Compensation (contact Len White to report the injury).
  10. Interns are not eligible for University parking privileges, HRDC professional development programs, or to use a University vehicle. Interns are not to be given keys or card access to the Libraries' facilities, but instead should work only during the hours when their units are open and staffed.
  11. Interns seeking regular employment should follow the Libraries' and University's established process for hiring. They are not given preferential treatment in hiring. 
  12. General inquiries about the internship process in the Libraries should be referred to Human Resources.
  13. Interns who do not perform satisfactorily or who do not conform to University policies will be dismissed. Human Resources must be notified if this occurs, and the course of action should be documented.


  1. Complete Internship Request Form (staff site), obtain required signatures, and send to Libraries Human Resources. Internship Request Form must be completed for internships that are for-credit, not-for-credit, paid or unpaid.
  2. Upon notification of approval, the following must be completed before an intern can begin working in the Libraries: 
    • I-9 form in Libraries Human Resources
    • Internship Agreement (staff site) that clarifies work unit, assignment, learning objectives, goals, and expected length of the internship. This should be completed in conjunction with the supervisor and should clearly outline learning objectives and goals.
    • Worker’s Compensation Employee Notification Form (staff site)(paid internships only)
    • Worker’s Compensation Information Sheet (paid internships only)
  3. The department is responsible for: 
    • Training and orientation of interns
    • Regularly monitoring intern’s work performance
    • Tracking of hours worked, if required of the internship
    • Informing interns about breaks, lunch, etc.
    • Informing interns about relevant policies and procedures, including security 
    • Completing appropriate forms and authorizations for access to systems (only if the intern is required to use these resources)


Information for Interns (pdf document)


InternshipRequest.pdf (pdf document)

InternshipAgreement.pdf (pdf document)

Bednar Undergraduate Internship Program Requirements, if applicable (staff only)

Effective Date: May 2010
Date Approved: April 12, 2010 (Dean's Library Council)

Revision History (and effective dates):

  • April 12, 2010 -- New guideline

Last Review Date:  April 2010