Carolina Academic Library Associates

The Carolina Academic Library Associates (CALA) program provides selected graduate students the opportunity to enhance their Library or Information Science education with practical experience in an academic library. 

Established in the fall of 2000, the CALA program is a collaboration between the University Libraries at UNC-Chapel Hill and the UNC School of Information and Library Science (SILS). CALAs are assigned to different departments within the University Libraries according to their background, interests, and experience. Assignments seek flexibility to match students’ developing interests as they learn and grow in their education and career plans. 

CALAs work 20 hours per week and receive full tuition support, paid health insurance, career development and networking opportunities, mentorship, and a stipend. 

There is no separate application for the CALA program. CALAs are selected each year from UNC SILS’s incoming graduate class. Visit Prospective Students for more information. 

Alumni Testimonials

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Kristina Bush, CALA ’19
“This program has had a huge impact on my career in academic libraries. Being able to work while taking classes helped me learn about all aspects of academic librarianship and focus what I want in a job. The CALA program has offered a lot of career support and guidance which has been incredibly valuable. The connections that I made with UNC library staff as a CALA have also been valuable. Everyone went out of their way to help me to succeed. I have grown personally and professionally through being a CALA and developed confidence in this profession.”
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Christina Cortland, CALA ’19
“Coming from that West Coast tech startup life, I entered SILS with no (practical) idea of how I wanted to interact with and contribute to the library field. The CALA program allowed me to learn by doing. The flexibility to contribute to multiple projects across departments in the UNC Libraries was critical for helping me shape my post-graduate career goals.”

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Hong Dong, CALA ’19
“It would be difficult to find a program that can offer a similar learning and work experience—the CALA program provided me the companionship of students with similar aspirations and mindsets. Additionally, I couldn’t have asked for a better CALA supervisor. Thanks to the program, I gained both a valuable professional connection and a friend.”

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Cait Kennedy, CALA ’19
“The CALA program was invaluable for me as a person and librarian! I had opportunities to build new library programs like Adulting 101 UNC and the Wilson Library instruction page, which will continue to impact students and our library community after I leave. I also had consistent guidance and trust from my supervisor, library director, and library colleagues. The CALA program has provided enormous space and support for me to discover new library interests, find out what I’m good at and where I can still improve, and take concrete steps to build work experience in many areas of academic librarianship.”