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KCLS Student Librarian Internship Program
By Michael Harkovitch
November 7, 2002

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 internship program.

"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."

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Edited by Michael Harkovitch

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