Welcome to our FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page. Here you will find answers to some of the questions we receive most regarding residency programs. We are constantly trying to add to this page so if you have a question that is not listed here, let us know and we’ll cook up an answer.

“A residency program…you mean like an internship?”

No, not like an internship.  This interest group defines “residency” according to the “ALISE Guidelines for Practices and Principles in the Design, Operation, and Evaluation of Post-Masters Residency Programs.”  The complete guidelines can be found in Internship, Residency, and Fellowship Programs in ARL Libraries. ARL SPEC Kit 188. (This kit is available as an ERICdocument under ERIC Document number ED359970).  Briefly, the definitions are as follows:

  • Internship: Pre-professional (Pre-MLS) work experience which takes place during graduate work, but preceding the terminal degree.
  • Residency: Post-degree work experience designed as an entry level program for recent graduates of an MLS program.
  • Fellowship: An experience designed to assist librarians, who already have some professional experience,  in developing an area of expertise or managerial skills.

Knowing these distinctions is important, particularly for residency program managers.  Some former library residents who worked in medical libraries noted some confusion about their own status since “intern” also designated medical students who were on their way to becoming medical doctors.  Further, former residents often report being treated as students, especially when they are part of a program with “internship” in the title.  Consequently, some program participants begin to feel alienated from the culture of the workplace as they may be viewed as pre-professionals without the requisite masters degree.  These and other such issues regarding nomenclature have been described in more detail in an article by Julie Brewer, residency program coordinator for the University of Delaware’s Pauline A. Young Residency Program. Brewer, J.  2007. Post-master’s residency programs: New professionals and minority recruitment in academic and research libraries. College & Research Libraries. November:528-37.

What’s the purpose of a residency program? Why have them at all?

Answer coming soon.

“Sounds like a good idea.  So where are these programs?”

(See map below)

This is a question we frequently receive from current students of library and information science.  Unfortunately, the answer is complex for at least three reasons and, like the programs themselves, will vary from year to year.

  1. Library residency programs rise and fall each year.  Some programs, such as those at the University of Delaware, the National Library of Medicine, and the Eskind Biomedical program at the University of Vanderbilt’s Medical Center have been in operation for over a decade.  Others, such as the Purdue University Libraries’ Diversity Fellowship Program and the University of Arkansas Libraries’ Librarian-In-Residence program, have been suspended after only one cycle of operation.
  2. There are variations between the different models and designs of the programs themselves.  The Library Resident Program at the Georgetown Law Library, for example, recruits a single resident at a time for a two year period.  It will only recruit for another after the current resident has completed the two-year program.  These programs do not recruit every year.  Other programs such as the University of Tennessee Libraries’ Diversity Residency program recruit a cohort each time instead of a single individual.   This program is like that at Notre Dame.  It does not recruit every year.  It only recruits after each cycle of the program has been completed.  There are no overlapping residents.  There are other models, however, such as The North Carolina State University Libraries’ Fellows Program.  This model recruits every year and has overlapping cohorts of residents each year.  While one cohort is entering their second year, a new cohort is beginning their first year of the program.
  3. Residency programs require substantial resources.  A program that is designed to offer new graduates professional level work experience requires a salary line.  The exact amount will vary, but it is typically an annual (not hourly) salary and comes with full benefits offered to everyone else at the host institution.  Residency programs also require extensive amounts of time to plan and execute the search for a new hire, to plan the new hire’s work assignments, to supervise those assignments, and manage the overall flow of the program from work assignment to work assignment over a period of one to two or even three years.  Programs need considerable amounts of money and staff time in order to continue their operation from year to year. Not all institutions have sufficient resources to accomplish this.

View U.S. Library Residencies 2011-2012 in a larger map