Hot on the heels of Seattle Public Library's suspension
of its student librarian program due to budget cuts, King
County Library System held an information session at the iSchool
on November 7 to promote its "evolving" student librarian
"It has evolved over a number of years, and
we are very proud of the program," said Sally Porter, KCLS Youth
Services Coordinator, one of six panelists on hand to promote KCLS
and its employment opportunities. "I am so pleased we have so
many students working for KCLS now."
Offering flexible hours and work locations, along
with extensive training opportunities tailored toward a number of
specialized interests, KCLS' program is designed so that participating
students experience both public and behind the scenes operations.
The student librarian internship program offers the same opportunities
as directed fieldwork, but interns hold their positions from one to
two years and are paid a starting salary of nearly $20 per hour.
KCLS Director Bill Ptacek told attendees that the
library system is dedicated to working with the iSchool to provide
paid intern programs that allow MLIS students valuable opportunities
to participate in the institution's public libraries vision. "We
have so many roles to play, there's no time for us to get bored,"
he said. "Information changes people's lives. We feel we are
the information broker for King County."
With an annual operating budget of $70 million, KCLS
employs 1150 people at its 42 libraries and various service centers,
serving approximately one million residents. KCLS boasts the fourth
largest circulation in the country, and boosted its materials budget
to $10 million this year.
Ptacek described the library system as an intellectual
adventure for those who use the facilities and services. "When
people come into a King County Library, we want them to be excited,"
he said. Part of KCLS' vision includes making its libraries the heart
of their respective communities. "In many areas, the library
is the center of the community."
Although the application deadline has passed for
the three vacant student librarian intern positions, a proposed internship
in KCLS' Information Technologies Department may open in March if
funding is approved.
iSchool students Jennifer Reichert and Maria Ovalles,
both current KCLS interns, had nothing but praise for KCLS' programs.
"You are right there in the middle of everything, doing it all,"
said Ovalles, who currently works on design issues for the library
system's new online catalog.
Porter emphasized that the internship program is
mutually beneficial to students and the library system. She said several
student interns have been hired after graduation. "This provides
an opportunity to blend the academic with the practical," she
said. "The training opportunities are great. We believe in libraries,
and we believe in the iSchool. We see you as our future."