University of Illinois

Alternative Spring Break

Alternative Spring Break is a noncredit career development program which places interested and motivated graduate students in professional work environments during the week of Spring Break. Spring Break 2014 is the week of March 24th-28th. 

Experience Professional Life

Every year over 50 students have the opportunity to experience professional life in libraries and other information settings across the country. See below for examples of host organizations from past years. 

At these placements, students can:

  • Explore career options
  • Observe the work of professional staff (job shadowing)
  • Gain experience by assisting with tasks or work on small projects
  • Receive career mentorship and build context for the job search
  • Create professional relationships

To Apply

To apply, visit the ASB Moodle site and complete the ASB 2014 Application Steps 1 and 2. The deadline to submit an application is November 4th, 2013. 

Interested students must attend a required information session or set up an individual consultation with the ASB Coordinator prior to submitting an application. See the GSLIS Events Calendar for dates and times of information sessions that will occur throughout the month of October both on-campus and online.


Please contact Roy Brooks, ASB Coordinator (Telephone 217-333-6202, Email: -rebrooks, at ) with questions about the application or the program.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who May Apply?

All graduate students enrolled and in good standing at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, whether on-campus students, LEEP students, or CAS students, may apply.

Where Can I Go?

You can be placed in academic, public, or special libraries, or in museums or archives. In your application, you may also suggest a particular location that might be a better fit for your interests and needs such as community or non-profit organization that compliments your information career interests. 

How Do I Apply?

In the application you are asked to describe your courses and to list the sites where you are interested in being placed. Including information about your specific interest in a given placement and what you hope to be exposed to or gain from the placement is helpful to include. You are also asked to provide a current resume. The application deadline is November 4th. See "To Apply" section above for more information on deadlines.

How Will I Be Matched With a Host Institution?

Once your application is received, we'll work with prospective host organizations to coordinate your placement. Participants will have the opportunity to discuss their placement with their host before final agreements are in place. 

What Will I Do There?

In the past, students have job-shadowed professionals in all types of libraries and other type of organizations. Students worked behind the scenes on a wide variety of week-long projects in cataloging, reference, preservation, digitization and administration, as well as in archives and special collections.  Hosts vary in the degree to which they can provide an experience focused more on job-shadowing, versus an experience focused more on completing a project. 

Trip Reports written by some of the past ASB student participants are available at the ASB Moodle site, labeled as Shared Trip Reports.  They offer a sampling of the types of experiences that the ASB week can provide.

Will I Earn Academic Credit?

No, the Alternative Spring Break program provides professional experience only, without academic credit. To earn credit for work experience, consider enrolling in LIS591 Practicum. For more information, see the Practicum Guide.

How Many Students Will be Accepted?

As many as 75 students have enjoyed Alternative Spring Break placements in the past years. We will work to accomodate as many students as possible.

How Much Will it Cost?

GSLIS may be able to provide stipdends of up to $300 per student, to help cover costs for food, housing, gasoline and/or transportation for students who could not otherwise participate.

When Will I Know if I Will Receive a Placement?

Your application will be acknowledged by the application deadline. The ASB Coordinator strives to have placements established by January and participants may have placement information by the end of November or in December. Information about placements will be sent to applicants and they will have a chance to discuss their placement with the host before final agreement. 

Student Comments

  • "I was able to see almost everything the library does, ask questions and even try out some activities."
  • "I was able to see many of the basics from my classes put into practice, which was very rewarding."
  • "My week was equally divided between doing actual work and observing or shadowing others."
  • "Of all the experiences though,I felt that meeting and speaking with people was the most beneficial."
  • "Going between learning from speaking with staff and learning from working on projects was a fluid, enjoyable process."
  • This week gave me an insider's view of what it is like to work in a wonderful library that is part of an important cultural institution."
  • "The librarians made the experience engaging, fun, and multifaceted, and got me excited at the prospect of one day working in a similar setting."
  • "This program was awesome and gave me one of the most invaluable experiences to augment my formal education."
  • I would definitely recommend alternative spring break to others, particularly students who don't have time for an entire practicum but wish to get some exposure to a particular type of workplace."

Selected Past Alternative Spring Break Host Sites

Central Illinois

  • Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Springfield
  • Caterpillar, Decatur
  • Galesburg Public Library, Galesburg
  • Harrisburg District Library, Harrisburg
  • Heartland Community College Library, Normal
  • Helen Matthes Library, Effingham
  • Illinois State University, Milner Library, Normal
  • Illinois Wesleyan University Library, Bloomington
  • Indian Prairie Public Library, Darien
  • Moline Public Library, Moline
  • Western Illinois University Libraries, Macomb


  • Abbott Laboratories
  • Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum
  • American Bar Association, Legal Technology Resource Center
  • ALA Internships
  • Art Institute of Chicago
  • Association of College and Research Libraries
  • Chicago Association of Law Libraries
  • Chicago Botanic Garden
  • Chicago History Museum
  • Chicago-Kent College of Law
  • Chicago Public Library
  • College of DuPage Library
  • Columbia College Chicago, Center for Book & Paper Arts
  • Columbia College Chicago Library
  • Deerfield Public Library
  • Elmhurst College Library
  • Field Museum Library
  • Hinsdale Public Library
  • The History Makers
  • Internationl Academy of Design & Technology Library
  • Loyola University Library
  • Metropolitan Library System
  • Morton Arboretum Library
  • Mount Prospect Public Library
  • Naperville Public Library
  • National Archives & Records Administration, Great Lakes Region
  • National Louis University Library
  • Newberry Library
  • Niles Public Library
  • Prritzker Legal Research Center, Northwestern University
  • Pritzker Military Library
  • Prospect Heights Public Library District
  • Shedd Aquarium
  • University of Chicago Libraries
  • University of Illinois at Chicago, Library of the Health Sciences


  • Hennepin County Library (Minneapolis Public)
  • Minneapolis Community & Technical College
  • U of Minnesota, Charles Babbage Institute
  • U of Minnesota, Children's Literature Research Collections
  • U of Minnesota, Immigration Research History Center

St. Louis

  • Lewis & Clark Library System, Edwardsville IL
  • Missouri Historical Society Library and Archives, St. Louis
  • O'Fallon Public Library
  • Washington University School of Medicine Library
  • Webster University Library

Washington, DC

  • American University LIbrary
  • Fairfax County Public Schools
  • Folger Shakespeare Library
  • George Washington University Library
  • Georgetown University Library
  • Jefferson Library, Charlottesville VA
  • Law Library of Congress
  • Library of Congress, Asian Division
  • Library of Congress, Collections (Preservation)
  • Library of Congress, Digital Reference Team
  • Library of Congress, Serial and Government Publications
  • National Library of Medicine
  • National Institutes of Health Library
  • National Archives and Records Administration
  • The Phillips Collection Library
  • Smithsonian Institution Libraries
  • U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Library
  • Wiley Rein Law Library

Other Locations

  • California College of the Arts, San Francisco
  • Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
  • County of Los Angeles Public Library
  • Jefferson-Madison Regional Library, Charlottesville, VA
  • LDS Church Library, Salt Lake City
  • Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR
  • Portland State University Library, Portland, OR
  • Purdue University Library, West Lafayette, IN
  • University of New Mexico Library, Albuquerque

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