Incoming Haines High School seniors Sarah Long and Keegan Palmieri are the first two summer interns in a national pilot program at Haines Borough Public Library.

Besides learning about library operations they’ll focus on a project to improve library services and share that progress on social media.

“The overarching goal of the project is to increase diversity and inclusivity in the library profession,” said Haines library director Patty Brown. She said the program aims to encourage young people to think about a career in libraries after graduation.

Thirty-four libraries throughout the country were chosen to participate in the program, sponsored by the National Public Library Association and funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The Alaska State Library selected Haines and Kenai Community Library for the program based on previous awards and successes.

Fifty-two interns and library directors nationwide will travel to the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. June 15-17 to network, hear a keynote speech from a Library of Congress librarian and brainstorm project ideas. The internship also includes a paid trip to Chicago in September to present their finished projects.

Brown said project topics are very open and could focus on technology, a certain section of the library, culture, or other functions interns are interested in improving and sharing.

Five Haines students showed interest in the internship, Brown said. Long and Palmieri were selected from a one-page application.

Palmieri has been working as a library page for eight months, and Brown said he was a “natural fit to jump into a bigger project for the program.”

Palmieri said he was most looking forward to sharing ideas with other interns working at larger libraries across the country. “We’re one of the smaller libraries, so we get to hear their ideas and can share our own,” he said.

Long said although she’s unsure what profession she wants to pursue after high school, this internship will be great experience before applying for college.

“I find that the library is a huge benefit to the community,” Long said. “This is a wonderful opportunity that will benefit a lot of people.”