Instant Ideas and Collaboration

Feature #32: Internships: An Irish Perspective on alternative ways of gaining LIS experience.

The LIS Profession and Internships in Ireland.

With many professional LIS posts requiring experience as well as recognised qualifications, new LIS professionals can be stuck in a trap where they cannot gain experience in order to begin working in the profession.

In reaction to this is the Irish Government, through the Department of Social Protection in Ireland, had established JobBridge which allows people receiving social welfare to avail of these Internships. An Internship provides work experience for a 6 to 9-month period, with an extra payment in addition to your social welfare payment each week. (The equivalent of the Department of Social Protection Ireland is the Department for Work and Pensions in the UK.)

The aim of an internship is “to assist in breaking the cycle where jobseekers are unable to get a job without experience, either as new entrants to the labour market after education or training or as unemployed workers wishing to learn new skills”. (Department of Social Protection, Ireland)

These internships are designed to involve learning and growing within your skill set, gaining new skills, and having a mentor which helps you learn and grow within your profession.

My Story.

I began my internship with the Heritage Council, based in Ireland. The project set out for me involved working in the library that held all publication and research material produced since the Heritage Council was established, some 20 years previous.

Three areas within the library needed to be addressed,

  1. The organisation of material,
  2. The archival of material.
  3. Analyse current practices and make recommendations on their strengths and weakness, including recommendations for staff implementation. Analysis and report to be written alongside the Archives and Records Managment Consultant.

Initially, there were two major challenges: staff time and staff building trust.

Staff Time

All staff worked very limited hours within the Heritage Council’s offices. As well as office time their work with the heritage of Ireland includes visiting sites nationwide on a daily basis. Familiarity was very difficult to build, staff could not commit to meetings because of their work schedule, which meant it was difficult to build a rapport.

Time was made in small bursts, over coffee, on the stairs in the car park, on the way to shop! Each time I made contact I made the most of it, I took notes on newspapers, on my phone, on the back of napkins! Slowly over time, I began to understand the material in the library and therefore, organise it in an accessible and logical way.

Building relationships and trust

In addition to the challenge of limited staff time, another large hurdle was building staff trust as I was not a paid member of staff, or a consultant, or a heritage professional.

Over time I came to realise the real issue was that the staff did not trust the archival process because losses had been made in the past. It was crucial for me to rebuild this trust and to give the staff the 100% guarantee that they deserved, and a promise that they could successful retrieve information or material once archived.

This was the breakthrough in the project, each member of staff could see clearly how important it was to me to give this guarantee and promise and within days all staff came on board. They made time to come see me and to give me their advice and concerns, which they knew I would take on board. These were the most amazing discussions I have ever had, because at the end of the day we were all passionate about our work and we all wanted this project to be successful.


Over the nine months together, the project achieved more than we anticipated,

  1. The Library was organised into heritage sections and heritage subsections,
  2. The 18th-century book shelves were repaired in addition the wall behind the bookshelves was secured so they could not be damaged further,
  3. Over 100 boxes of material were archived

Today the library today is still used in great capacity, however,  each member of staff is responsible for the management and care of the material and space, and that was the promise they made to me on my departure.

This months post was written by #uklibchat very own team member Siobhan McGuinness.

About siobhanmac

Loves Libraries, Books, and Sunshine!

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