Summer intern from South Portland adds to staff diversity at Portland library

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PORTLAND — Hussein Maow will be the Portland Public Library’s first intern under its new Inclusive Internship Initiative, and his goals for the summer include creating programming focused on New Americans and multiculturalism.

Maow, a student at South Portland High School, was chosen from a pool of about 20 applicants, according to Raminta Moore, who heads the library’s Cultural Center Team and will oversee his work.

“The library is a public space and a huge part of the local community,” Moore said. “I was hoping for someone who saw the connection (between working for the) library (and the) community, and Hussein definitely demonstrated that in his application and interview.”

“Hussein is extremely passionate in everything he does,” Moore added. “He is definitely the type of student you will see not only making a huge impact on his local community, but most likely the world. He has a ton of energy and drive and I am very excited to be working as his mentor.”

Maow and Moore spent last week in Washington, D.C., attending a conference sponsored by the Public Library Association, which created the Inclusive Internship Initiative.

“We attended three different master classes, which were lectures by different librarians from across the country who are working on various initiatives … from reading and literacy to serving refugee and immigrant populations,” Moore said.

She said the conference was “an exciting opportunity to see what libraries across the country are currently doing and seeing that the possibilities truly are endless. Hussein is really hoping to make a huge impact at Portland Public and I truly believe he will.”

Under the internship initiative, Maow and Moore will also be using social media to highlight the projects they will be doing together. They plan to use #PLinterns17 as their hashtag.

The goal of the Inclusive Internship Initiative is to provide paid internships for students from diverse backgrounds who are interested in library science and information fields.

In all, 52 internships have been awarded to high school juniors and seniors who will serve at 30 different libraries across the country this summer.

“The summer-long internship is designed to benefit both public libraries and student participants,” the Public Library Association said in a press release.

“Libraries will strengthen the career pathway to librarianship and develop methods to support and encourage more diverse interest in the field.”

The Portland Public Library was invited to participate in the internship program “because of (our) geographic diversity, and the creativity and thoughtfulness (we used in) describing how (we) would work with the intern,” Sarah Campbell, the library director said.

“It is critical for the public library to represent and reflect the full character of its community (and) we feel very fortunate to welcome Hussein to our staff for the summer. Like all public libraries, the Portland Public Library values equity, diversity and inclusion. It is important to us that our staffing reflects these values,” she added.

“We hope that Hussein will benefit from the opportunity,” Campbell said, “and that together we will learn more about how to connect with young (people) interested in this dynamic and rewarding work.”

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or kcollins@theforecaster.net. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KirishCollins.

Hussein Maow, a student at South Portland High School, is the first intern under the Portland Public Library’s new Inclusive Internship Initiative. He spent last week at a Washington, D.C., conference designed for interns and their mentors who are doing similar work.

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