As most of the 9,000 US public libraries (Sievers) don’t employ social workers, on-site supervision for interns can be a challenge and therefore a concern for social work educators.  This is where creativity and flexibility are essential.  Some unique solutions of providing weekly supervision to students include:

Third parties.  Team up with an outside agency such as the Department of Homeless Services or the Department of Health and Human Services. Such collaborations may be new to the library or it may involve strengthening a relationship that already exists.

Retired social workers. Some retirees are seeking ways to maintain their social work license or simply give back to the profession.

  • David Perez, MSW, of Long Branch Free Public Library (LBFPL) realizes he was fortunate when a retired social worker, who was already a volunteer at LBFPL, agreed to supervise and meet with him weekly throughout his two year internship.  Now employed by the library, Perez supervises interns continuing in his footsteps (Perez, personal communication, Dec 4 2017).
Image obtained from

Group supervision.  With ten students placed at fourteen local libraries in Long Island, Stony Brook School of Social Welfare uses a shared supervision model in which one field advisor meets with this group of students on a weekly basis, in addition to providing individual consultations every three to four weeks.  These student interns also visit their cohort’s host libraries to get a fuller experience of one another’s internship experiences, as each branch differs.  Their field supervisor also works part time in the SUNY School of Social Welfare Field Office (Aug 2018).  

Sample learning contract for interns at libraries.


Maxwell, L. (2017, November 7). Loussac Library wants full-time social worker in light of changing library users. Retrieved October 4, 2018, from

Sievers, D. (2016, December 29). Number of Libraries in the United States. Retrieved December 17, 2018, from

Zettervall, S. K., & Nienow, M. C. (2019). Learning contract template (Appendix C). In Whole person librarianship: A social work approach to patron services (pp. 143–149). Retrieved from