SILS Graduate Internship programs

Environmental Protection Agency Library Internship Program

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the School of Information and Library Science (SILS) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have a partnership that provides between six (6) and eight (8) internships at the EPA Library each year. Over the past 40 years, nearly 400 SILS students have begun their professional careers through the EPA contract. The internship program provides students with the opportunity to apply concepts and ideas taught in the classroom to real-world library situations while gaining professional-level experience. Former EPA interns can be found in all areas of the library world, and many have gone on to become leaders in libraries and the information industry. The internship celebrated its 40th Anniversary ( in April of 2015 and was the subject of a June 2015 article in American Libraries. (

Each semester, the EPA-RTP Library internship provides Master's students the opportunity to rotate through different areas of the library. Rotations include Interlibrary Loan, Reference, Advanced Reference, E-Resources/Serials, Cataloging and serving as the Librarian for the Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards Library Services.

Interns work 20 hours each week for at least one year. Students must be enrolled at the Master's degree level in a library science or information science program at UNC-SILS or NCCU-SLIS for a minimum of nine credit hours each fall and spring semester to maintain eligibility for the internship. Students may not hold any other graduate assistantship concurrently.

The EPA-RTP Library
The EPA Library in Research Triangle Park (EPA-RTP) is one of 25 libraries in the EPA National Library Network and is the only EPA library staffed under contract by university employees. The EPA-RTP Library supports the research and information needs of approximately 2,000 scientists, engineers and program staff working in the various labs and program offices that make up the EPA-RTP campus. The library's collection is broad and reflects the varied needs of the range of patrons that comprise the library's client base. Major areas of collection development include: biomedical and toxicological information; physics, chemistry, and engineering resources; legislative and regulatory publications; and limited business, management and computer resources. The collection includes access to more than 10,000 journals and over 4,000 e-books, over 5,000 books, microfiche copies of 150,000 EPA documents and the historic APTIC file of over 85,000 items related to air pollution. The EPA-RTP Library serves as a repository for EPA documents related to air, and houses paper copies of over 15,000 documents.

The Rotations
Interlibrary Loan Interns coordinate the delivery of resources and materials requested internally by EPA staff and externally by cooperating libraries. Day-to-day responsibilities include processing incoming patron requests for journal article PDFs and monograph loans, searching for items and requesting them via the OCLC, requesting items through the National Library of Medicine's Docline service, and electronic delivery of articles. Interlibrary Loan Interns are also responsible for verifying incomplete or incorrect citations using a variety of search tools including resources such as PubMed, ScienceDirect, ProQuest Environmental Science Collection, and Web of Science. The interlibrary loan rotation provides interns with an introduction to the EPA-RTP collection and allows them to become familiar with common resources, such as the EPA National Library Catalog, OCLC, Docline, and ILLiad.

The Office of Air Quality Planning & Standards Intern is responsible for providing library services to the OAQPS staff. The intern assists patrons in many different areas, including reference and interlibrary loan, and is primarily responsible for guiding OAQPS-produced materials through the EPA document publication process. This includes conferring with OAQPS researchers about explanations or clarifications regarding the EPA's current publication guidelines and providing examples and templates for researchers to utilize in the preparation of documents for publication. Additionally, interns assign EPA document numbers for OAQPS-produced documents and distribute completed documents to other EPA libraries, the National Service Center for Environmental Publications (NSCEP), National Technical Information Service (NTIS), and the Government Printing Office (GPO).

Reference Interns are responsible for providing assistance with the many resources available in the library. While developing expertise in the provision of reference services within a scientific special library, interns gain familiarity with a multitude of print and online reference tools. As the first point of contact for EPA staff and public patrons via phone, email, chat, and in-person interaction, reference interns respond to a variety of queries ranging from environmental questions to requests for specific EPA-produced documents. Reference interns also provide formal and informal training on the use of library databases and EPA online resources. Reference interns may also do special projects, such as helping to plan the library’s annual Open House and creating library displays.

Advanced Reference Interns perform in-depth database searching for EPA-RTP researchers. The advanced reference interns become proficient with using scientific literature databases such as PubMed, Web of Science and ProQuest Environmental Science Collection and many more. Other activities of the rotation include teaching library instruction classes (recent topics include data management plans, bibliometrics and e-books), creating tutorials using Camtasia, maintaining the library’s search alert program and assisting patrons with EndNote.   

Serials/E-Resources Interns assist the E-Resources Librarian with managing the library’s wealth of electronic journal subscriptions, as well as other e-resources. Interns are responsible for daily management of the serials and e-resources collections, which includes collecting, compiling and analyzing usage data, verifying access to all the library’s subscriptions and managing holdings in SerialsSolutions, as well as the library’s in-house Electronic Resource Management Database. The Serials/E-Resources Intern communicates with the library’s staff regarding changes affecting subscription titles and is responsible for maintaining communication with the library’s subscription vendors in the reporting and resolution of subscription-related problems. 

Cataloging Interns are afforded a great opportunity to gain invaluable experience in both copy and original cataloging of materials that are added to the library's collection. Interns perform original cataloging for EPA technical documents, state agency reports and documents, international organization documents, dissertations, and, on occasion, monographs. Cataloging interns utilize OCLC's cataloging platform, Connexion, as well as the EPA National Library Catalog and the library's circulation system on a daily basis.

For additional information about the EPA Library Internship, please contact Susan Forbes, EPA Library Director (UNC-SILS) at