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Experiential learning and international collaboration opportunities: virtual internships

Patricia C. Franks (School of Library and Information Science, San Jose State University, San Jose, California, USA)
Gillian C. Oliver (School of Information Management, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand)

Library Review

ISSN: 0024-2535

Article publication date: 13 April 2012




Experiential learning incorporated into library and information science education in the form of a practical placement has long been accepted as important. However, it is not always possible for students to undertake a traditional internship because of constraints associated with the physical location of internship sites. The purpose of this paper is to explore virtual alternatives, in the context of digital curation.


Surveys exploring the internship experience were conducted of students and supervisors, leading to the development of a pilot study. In addition, discussions were held with possible supervisors in a country with a small population, faced with the challenge of building capability in digital curation.


The concept of a virtual internship is entirely appropriate given the focus on digital tools, information and systems in digital curation. A new dimension to the traditional internship experience is the potential for sharing expertise internationally, in diverse settings.

Research limitations/implications

Although the paper describes activities taking place through the School of Library & Information Science at San Jose State University, the findings can be used to justify virtual internship programs and develop strategies to be employed by other Schools at the University and other Universities within and outside the USA.

Practical implications

This paper includes implications for the development of successful virtual internship programs on the Master's degree level, including those for students preparing for careers in digital curation.


The paper provides insight into the practical issues associated with incorporating experiential learning into digital curation curricula and signals the potential for approaching internships from a global perspective.



Franks, P.C. and Oliver, G.C. (2012), "Experiential learning and international collaboration opportunities: virtual internships", Library Review, Vol. 61 No. 4, pp. 272-285.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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