Research & Instructional Services (RIS) Field Experience (unpaid)

Do you want to learn what it is like to be a subject librarian in an academic library?  Are you interested in ways subject librarians collaborate to improve the user experience?  Do you want practical experience working on a variety of projects tailored to your interests?  Would you like to gain experience while earning course credit?  This might be the experience for you!

Research and Instructional Services (RIS), part of the Research, Collections and Scholarly Communication Division of Duke University Libraries (DUL), has opportunities for you to apply what you have learned; you will put your course work and learning theory into action.  Come explore what a subject librarian in an academic research institution does by working closely with RIS staff on some of the following activities:

  • in-depth training in using databases and library systems,
  • learning about and helping with the Ask a Librarian chat/email service,
  • participating in planning and creation of content for library instruction,
  • attending departmental meetings and trainings, and
  • discussing career paths  with librarians in other departments. 

The practicum experience accommodates a wide range of abilities, skills and interests.  Specific projects will be determined by the intern’s area of expertise and interest while designed to meet the goals of the department in collaboration with the learning goals of the student.  You will work with the friendly and approachable DUL staff.  Weekly check-ins with the practicum supervisor are required to ensure progress and provide immediate feedback.  We especially encourage students from underrepresented or marginalized groups to submit resumes and statements of interest.

Possible projects include:

  • Develop instructional sessions and course guides
  • Co-teach instruction sessions with a librarian
  • Answer reference questions via chat and email
  • Write a collections-related blog posting
  • Script and create instructional videos
  • Develop outreach and marketing materials
  • Curate a small exhibit case
  • A project you propose!

Requirements:  Enthusiastic learner.  Flexible.  Self-directed.  Enrollment, at the time of the practicum, in a credit-bearing practicum/field experience/internship course that is part of an MLS program accredited by the American Library Association or equivalent program.  Direct experience or related coursework appreciated but not required. 

Time frame:  fall, spring, or summer term (1 semester, with potential to extend to a second academic semester)

Hours:   Varies depending on your course requirement but expect a minimum of 4 hours/week of in-person or virtual contact in the form of check-ins, project planning, training, and departmental meetings. 

Location:  Practicum opportunities may be virtual, in-person at Perkins Library, Lilly Library or Music Library, or a hybrid. 

Contact:  Please send a resume and brief statement of interest to Jodi Psoter (, Subject Librarian, Research and Instructional Services, by June 7 if you are interested in the fall semester practicum, by November 1 for consideration for a spring semester practicum, and by March 15 for a summer practicum.