The objective of the practicum requirement is to provide students with the opportunity to integrate and apply the knowledge, skills, and habits of mind they have learned in the classroom in a real-world work setting. Students are eligible to request a practicum placement after completing the first two core courses, LIS 601 and 602, although many students choose to complete additional courses before undertaking the practicum.
During a placement, students interact with both library users and professionals who may become role models and colleagues. Staff at host libraries often report feeling reinvigorated by contact with students, who are coming into the profession with fresh ideas.
The iSchool partners with libraries, archives, and information agencies at UW-Madison, the Wisconsin Historical Society, colleges, universities and public library systems in Wisconsin, the Madison Metropolitan School District, as well as local and national corporations and non-profit agencies, to provide a supervised practicum or field project for all master’s students.
All students must complete a 120-hour practicum.
LIS 620, Field Project in Library & Information Agencies: Students interested in public & academic libraries, archives, museums, digital libraries & collections, user experience, corporate libraries, or information work outside of libraries, will take LIS 620, which is offered every semester including summer.
C&I 620, School Library Media Placement: Students in the school libraries program will register for C&I 620, which is cross-listed with LIS 620.
Requesting a Practicum Placement
The process for requesting a placement is fundamentally the same for both on-campus and online students. Students begin the process by submitting a request, using this this online form. Normally, this is done shortly after the advising period for the semester in which a student wishes to complete the placement – e.g. Placement Request Forms for Spring semester placements are submitted during the Fall prior; Summer and Fall semester requests are submitted during the spring prior. Specific due dates for the Placement Request Forms will be announced around the time of advising.
Online students will be placed at practicum sites that are convenient to their place of residence. Online students are asked to research local institutions where they’d like to do the placement, and then provide contact information to the iSchool using the placement request form, so that the practicum instructors can contact the potential site.
- During the advising period prior to the semester or summer in which you wish to complete the practicum, meet with your advisor to discuss the best timing for you to complete the placement;
- By the announced due date for requests (normally within 1-2 weeks of the iSchool advising period for fall and spring placements, and February 1 for summer), complete the online placement request form;
NOTE: Summer placement requests are due February 1, so students should discuss summer placements with their advisors during the Fall advising period
When filling out the placement request form:
On-campus or Madison area students should select at least three possible sites from the most current LIS 620 Placement directory (see below “Current Placement Opportunities”) and list those sites in preference order;
Online students and Madison area students seeking placements not listed in the Directory should provide the name(s) of the organization(s) where they are interested in being placed. Again, please list your possible sites in preference order. Include contact information and possible site supervisor information if you have it. iSchool staff will use the information you provide to contact the potential site you have identified and see if they are willing to host your practicum.
*Students who have been unable to identify an organization where they’d like to be placed should use the Placement Request form to indicate the type of work they would like to do, and how far they can travel to a placement site.
- Register for LIS 620.
A few weeks after you submit the completed form you will receive contact information for your possible site supervisor and instructions for setting up an initial informal interview at the first of your possible placement sites. Use this information to contact the supervisor to arrange a pre-placement interview at the library/info agency.
Placements are not considered confirmed until there has been a successful interview.
School Library Media
Students in the school libraries program will be placed in both an elementary school and a secondary school for a total of 140 hours. They register for C&I 620, which is cross-listed with LIS 620.
Current Placement Opportunities
Updated October 2023
Please note that workflows at many institutions that host practicum students have changed since pandemic. We encourage students to use the Directory as a set of examples of the types of placements typically available, and to please continue to use the placement request form to list both specific sites in which they are interested, as well as describing the type of work they’d like to do, so that iSchool staff can contact potential placement sites to determine if a practicum placement is possible.
The Directory is sorted by name of agency as an Excel document. Feel free to sort to your preferences after downloading the spreadsheet.