Magazine article American Libraries

40 Years of Interns: UNC-Chapel Hill: Unique Partnership with EPA Library Trains Master's Students

Magazine article American Libraries

40 Years of Interns: UNC-Chapel Hill: Unique Partnership with EPA Library Trains Master's Students

Article excerpt

Selden Lamoureux was eager to practice librarianship when she began as a master's student in the School of Information and Library Science (SILS) at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill.

"I had so little experience in libraries before I went to library school," she says. "So I was especially keen to get some real-world experience."

Lucky for her, there was a library--the Environmental Protection Agency Research Triangle Park (EPA-RTP) Library--that would offer Lamoureux an internship with that real-world experience she was craving. The internship, she says, proved to be invaluable in preparing her for a career and for life.

"It was a great lesson to me that I had opportunities not just to grow professionally as a librarian but to grow as a person," she says.

Lamoureux isn't alone in her experience as an intern at the EPA-RTP library--one of only three in the nation that act as a repository library for the national agency that focuses on air pollution, toxicity, meteorology, and geophysics. The library has been home to more than 300 master's-level student interns in the SILS program, thanks to a grant partnership with the EPA for the past 40 years.

Late last year, the SILS was granted an additional five years as the hosting site for thousands of trade journals and federal agency documents for the EPA. And with this new grant comes new opportunity for the library. With an additional $20 million in contract funds, totaling $25.3 million, the library will now house electronic subscriptions for all EPA libraries, serving more than 2,000 agency employees, including 200 scientists onsite.

UNC SILS Dean Gary Marchionini says interns have helped, over the years, to provide a symbiotic relationship between the school and the EPA. The UNC-EPA contract represents an efficient and effective partnership, and interns enhance that by bringing new ideas to help the EPA.

"The EPA library internships attract outstanding students to UNC--Chapel Hill," he says. "These interns not only gain practical experience in a full-service research library but also work with library professionals to create new kinds of services to support EPA scientists and staff." Recently, several former interns, including Lamoureux, happily reminisced about their experiences at EPA-RTP.

Duncan Smith, cofounder and vice president of EBSCO's database NoveList, completed his internship from 1979 to 1980. He says that the opportunity to work at EPA-RTP felt like hitting the jackpot. …

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