What kind of student?

First or second year MSW students? Based on numerous conversation with librarians, social work student interns, and field placement advisors, more often than not interns are at a graduate level when conducting field work at a public library.

BSW level placements are gaining popularity.  While Stony Brook School of Social Welfare interns have mostly been first year MSW students, beginning in the Fall of 2018 the school began placing their first undergraduate students who had previous experience working in libraries. Additionally, three BSW students from Monmouth University are interning at the Long Branch Free Public Library in New Jersey. Two junior level BSW interns from MacMurray College in Illinois are conducting their placements at nearby Jacksonville Public Library.

Generalist versus clinical.  Library placement may not be not suitable for students with a clinical focus. As the nature of library-based work tends to bolster advanced generalist skills, it is not often fitting for students on a clinical track. Internships at public libraries may be more appropriate for students with a social policy and/or community organizing focus.

Characteristics.  Since library internships are new and innovative, these placements are particularly apt for students who are independent self-starters, energized by unconventional settings, and adaptable. Carbondale Public Library Director Diana Brawley Sussman says her library “looks for interns who have relevant experience and the ability to work very independently in a nontraditional setting” (Smith).

Regardless of focus or where they are in their program, those best suited for library placements depend on the individual student, nature of the work, requirements of the program, and the particular library community in question.


Smith, I. (2018, November 12). Carbondale Public Library announces new set of social work interns. Retrieved November 13, 2018, from https://thesouthern.com/news/local/communities/carbondale/carbondale-public-library-announces-new-set-of-social-work-interns/article_c1055cb9-7162-5708-977e-af8b5d2bc548.html


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