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Thank you to the many LinkedIn LIS Career Options group members who weighed in with absolutely terrific, thoughtful comments about the possibility of creating a virtual internship clearinghouse. Based on their contributions, we now have a “straw man” document to start knocking around.

Project Concept

The LIS Virtual Internship Clearinghouse (VIC) will comprise a searchable database of library- or information-based internships that could be completed by LIS students, recent grads, and job-hunters via online communication and virtual project work.

The goals of the VIC will be to:

• Provide practical, professional-level internships and projects for LIS students and unemployed practitioners needing to gain professional experience to build evidence of their ability to use their LIS skills in a real-world setting

• Provide libraries, nonprofits, and other organizations unable to otherwise afford this level of expertise an opportunity to work with skilled, technologically-savvy LIS students and unemployed practitioners to create programs, resources, and tools for their constituencies

• Create a model program of LIS social innovation that would benefit students, job seekers, and public-good organizations (especially underfunded public libraries), with the hope and expectation that the LIS professional organizations and graduate schools will look for additional opportunities to create programs that utilize LIS students and unemployed graduates for community benefit and impact

Participants in the VIC will be:

• MLIS students for whom a place-based internship is unavailable or not feasible due to scheduling, geographic, or other constraints (including the hundreds MLIS students pursuing online degrees)

• LIS practitioners currently unable to find employment and wanting to find opportunities to demonstrate to potential employers their ongoing skills value, commitment to and engagement with LIS work, and personal initiative

• Organizations that have identified an information-project need of some sort for which they lack the requisite funding, staff skills, or staff time, but would be able to work virtually with an intern to undertake and complete the project

Project Execution Overview (draft points)

The following action items are not listed in the exact order in which they will take place; rather, they represent elements that need to be addressed at some point within the project execution plan.

• Review all existing models for best practices (e.g., SJSU internship database, others mentioned in LIS Career Options group) – extrapolate guidelines, contact owners for insights, advice

• Develop a list of sample types of virtual internships so participants understand the concept; solicit ideas from students, profession, associations, libraries, museums, and information organizations

• Develop vetting parameters and process to protect all participants

• Create or identify and license appropriate IT framework/platform for VIC database

• Identify key metadata requirements

• Identify key project parameters (e.g., skills category, project duration, type of project, additional deliverables, stipulate student/post-grad, etc.)

• Develop process for gathering, inputting internship information (input by VIC staff or users?)

• Develop process for maintaining currency of internship info (how often verify, weed, etc. – what process?)

• Identify all costs associated with building, populating, and managing VIC

• Identify potential legal issues, liability

• Identify potential collaborators, funders (consider IMLS grant to pilot?)

• Develop PR/outreach campaign to get the word out to potential participants about the VIC, solicit internships (e.g., social media, presentations at PLA, ALA, SLA conferences, etc.)

• Contact deans, student services directors, and student-group leaders at all MLIS programs to let them know of availability for their students and unemployed alums

• Explore for-credit vs no-credit internships for students: what are the options, consequences, benefits and drawbacks?

Project Execution First Steps

Solicit feedback from LinkedIn LIS Career Options group re project plan.

Inform leadership in all LIS associations and MLIS programs that this project will be undertaken, solicit their input and feedback at the level at which they would like to participate.