As part of its commitment to workforce development, Heights Libraries expanded its internship opportunities for young people this summer. Starting in June, the library has hosted six interns across its four branches—five high school students and one college student.
Since 2016, Heights Libraries has offered the Teen Tech Ambassador program, a paid internship that gives two students a chance to learn about customer service, technology, and tech teaching by working in the library’s Continuing Education Department. This summer’s Teen Tech Ambassadors were Henry Turner, a rising senior at Cleveland Heights High School, and Reid Autero, a rising sophomore at Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School.
“Tech literacy is becoming increasingly important as more and more aspects of our lives move online, so the field of tech training is growing as well,” said Heather Howiler, continuing education manager. “This internship offers a taste of the field for young people who are interested in pursuing it in college or after.”
The library also has offered young people public service practicum experiences through its unpaid Library Experience program, which sets up a customized experience for students that fulfills more formal high school or college requirements, such as senior projects, or college and graduate school apprenticeships.
The program, which started in 2017, hosted two Library Experience students this summer, both of whom worked in the Lee Road Youth Services department: Trinity Kimbro, a rising senior at Heights High, and Maddie Hellwig, a junior at Ohio University majoring in English literature and writing and pursuing a certificate in deaf resources. Both students hope to pursue Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degrees when they finish their undergraduate degrees.
A relatively new source of interns for the library is Youth Opportunities Unlimited (YOU). A Northeast Ohio-based workforce development nonprofit, YOU seeks to help young residents, including teens, become economically self-sufficient through paid internships in workplaces throughout the region.
The library began its relationship with YOU in 2020 with an intern at its administration office.
“I was so impressed by the support YOU gave to her as a student, and to me as a mentor, that I knew the library could benefit from hosting other students in a variety of capacities,” said Nancy Levin, Heights Libraries director. “We welcomed another student at the Coventry branch in 2021, and this
year we have two students: one at Noble and one in adult services at Lee Road.”
YOU student Dylan Roche, a 16-year-old student at Shaker Heights High School, worked in the Lee Road Adult Services Department, helping to shelve books, and learning about the duties of reference staff by shadowing employees. Daisha Spicer, the YOU student at the Noble Neighborhood branch, is 17 years old and attends Cleveland High School for Digital Arts. She worked with the library’s youth services staff to prep craft projects, make displays, and engage children in pop-up programming.
“Our internship opportunities are a great way to introduce young people to the world of work, and specifically library work, to encourage them to consider a library career,” said Howiler. “You don’t have to have an MLIS degree to work at a library, and our programs show kids that libraries offer plenty of opportunities for people with all kinds of skills and interests.”