Unique Internship Illuminates Career Options in Libraries for Nia Themelaras

Posted Mar 10, 2022

When Nia Themelaras (Theatre and English, ’23) began to explore librarianship as a career, she turned to YouTube videos and blogs. The videos and blogs made one thing clear: She needed experience in order to get her foot in the door. In Spring 2021, the Courtright Memorial Library posted a paid internship for the OhioLINK Luminaries Program, which offers students a unique, paid opportunity in academic libraries not available in traditional internships or part-time campus employment. After an interview process in May 2021, the Courtright Memorial Library welcomed Nia as the second OhioLINK Luminaries Program intern, beginning in Fall 2021.

Nia Themelaras wearing a red hat with a snowy background

As a resume-building position offering hands-on experience, OhioLINK Luminaries students like Nia receive a broad introduction to the information studies profession—its purpose, value, and expertise. As part of the program, Nia works with two mentors, Director Tiffany Lipstreu and Digital and Web Services Librarian Jane Wu, to gain valuable knowledge in the Libraries and Information Sciences field and develop marketable skills that are extendable to a variety of career disciplines. Kristin Cole, Assessment and Special Projects Librarian, serves as Nia’s supervisor and organizes Nia’s rotations with different departments in the library. The Luminaries Program exposes students to a wide range of work experiences based in the students’ interests; creates a support system for students, mentors, and library administrators; and supports our library work environments becoming more inclusive.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion is a thread that runs through each rotation of the internship. During her Fall 2021 internship rotations, Nia created a display that traced the history of LGBTQIA authors and characters in the horror genre. For her rotation in Technical Services, Nia learned about outdated Library of Congress Subject Headings and libraries’ efforts to change these outdated terms to terms that more accurately reflect the diversity of library users. When asked what she will take from this internship into her classes and career moving forward, Nia said, “The words you use to describe people are important. Library catalogs all over the world use the term ‘illegal aliens,’ when it should say ‘undocumented Americans’. Those words have an effect on people.”

Nia wants other students to know the benefits of the OhioLINK Luminaries Program. She stated, “Students in my generation are money-cautious, so the fact that this is a paid internship is great. I also enjoyed feeling like I was part of a team.”

Because of her experiences in the OhioLINK Luminaries Program, Nia was able to learn more about different types of libraries and set her sights on a possible career in public libraries that will allow her to be a “Jill-of-all-trades” and explore new interests.

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