Home » Distance Library Instruction Virtual Poster Session (Spring 2019) » Going the Distance: Tips and Tricks to a Successful Online Experience


ACRL DLS Chair: Natalie Haber
Vice-Chair: Amanda Ziegler
Secretary: Stephanie Espinoza Villamor
Archivist: Andrea Hebert
Webmasters: Katie Stewart and Matthew Stevons (dlswebcontact@gmail.com)
Members-at-Large: Karla Aleman and Jennifer Rundels

Going the Distance: Tips and Tricks to a Successful Online Experience

This poster is part of the Distance Library Instruction Virtual Poster Session hosted by the ACRL DLS Instruction Committee. We encourage you to ask questions and engage in discussion on this poster! Authors will respond to comments between April 1-5.


Terry Schiavone and Bethann Zani Rea, Penn State University Libraries

Poster Description:

This poster presents the unique challenges facing distance learning students. Additionally, this study proposes solutions and methods to help facilitate a successful experience while attending an online program. Online education can present obstacles with communication, collaboration, and work/life balance. This presentation offers insight from a former and current ischool student.


(Click screenshot to open presentation in a new tab. Note: Prezi may not work in Internet Explorer.)

Image of Going the Distance Prezi slide

About the Presenters

Terry Schiavone is a Digital Processing Specialist in the Digitization Unit at the Penn State University Libraries and a Content Editor for the Student Research Journal at San Jose State University. Currently enrolled at San Jose State University’s in the M.L.I.S ischool program with a focus on academic librarianship.

Bethann Rea is the Digital Production Supervisor for the Preservation, Conservation and Digitization department at Penn State. She is also a Penn State Alumna with undergraduate degrees in Art History and Art. Ms. Rea earned her MLIS degree with a focus in academic librarianship from Syracuse University in December 2015.


  1. Hi Terry and Bethann, thanks so much for sharing your poster! What suggestions do you have for online students who would like to work or intern in an academic library while they are completing their degree? For me, working in an academic library was an invaluable part of my education.

    Also, looking at the issue from the other side, do you have any suggestions for academic libraries who would like to take on online library students as interns? What would be the best way for a library to partner with a library school or to spread the word to online students about an internship opportunity?

    Michelle Keba
    Reference Librarian
    Palm Beach Atlantic University

    • Hi Michelle!

      Thank you for your comment. I believe for me, and Bethann would agree, that being employed at a library while working towards a M.L.I.S is an integral part of the education process. For online students finding remote/online internships it is still a challenge. As mentioned in our poster some library schools do provide an internship portal that offer virtual internships. This can offer online students access to academic libraries that are geographically out of reach to the student. Another tip, there are number of job portals that list academic positions such as HigherEd.com and the ALA Joblist can be filtered to academic and research libraries. Students can get a feel of what is available and the colleges/universities nearby that have open positions. It is also important for a student to review and understand transferable skills. There is potential that the student cannot find a position at an academic library, however, there are several other places that students can learn the principles of library science and gain transferable skills. There are innumerable public libraries that require volunteers and sometimes hire part time staff. Another option would historical societies and state/local museums, the experiences would be drastically different from working in an academic library, however, for me I have had the experience of interning at a museum and volunteering at a historical society. They both offer unique challenges, but I think would be effective in the learning process and building skills.

      As a library, this can be a challenge. Some academic libraries offer internships for internal candidates only or have a limited marketing radius. There definitely needs to be more of a promotion for and collaboration of academic libraries with ischool/online LIS programs. Some programs have built a network of opportunities within the school, such as San Jose State, that regularly offer opportunities. As for academic libraries, working closely with LIS schools is significant and part of the talent search process. It is important for the library to be flexible and to have existing infrastructure to support a virtual internship or a remote position in general. Allowing the individual flexibility in a work schedule and reliable points of contact through video conferencing are also a necessity. As well, academic libraries can promote positions through the normal channels of job boards such as ALA Joblist.


  2. Dear Michelle,

    Thank you so much for reviewing our poster! Most MLIS students have a story about their search for the right internship. My MLIS program had a listserv with numerous postings for vacancies in upstate New York and large cities, but the program did not have strong connections to the Midwest. Fortunately, the administrators were flexible and willing to work with most institutions. I even attempted to apply for a position in an academic library that was located about a mile away from my house. Since I was not a student enrolled in their institution, I could not be considered for the internship. To reinforce what Terry stated, I was able to find a position in the archives of a local museum where I gained transferable skills that I still use in my position at Penn State.

    As for librarians that would like to connect with an iSchool, you should start by speaking with an HR representative about hiring interns. They should be able to inform you of any necessary university policies or explain any limitations that may exist when starting an internship program.

    Beth R.

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