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How Do I Earn Librarian Certification?

By A. Gamm
Updated May 17, 2024
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Each state in America and every country has its own requirements and specific courses and tests that need to be passed in order to receive a library certification. In most US states, a teaching certification in any subject must be obtained by taking courses accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). Another way to do this is to earn a bachelor’s degree in any subject and then take an American Library Association (ALA) approved master’s course. In the UK and Australia, for example, the requirements are similar in that a bachelor's degree in library science and an internship or bachelor's degree in any subject as well as a master's in library science or related field plus an internship is required.

At this point application for librarian certification is accepted in some states, while others prefer further requirements, such as teaching experience, before application approval. Countries such as the UK and Ireland require a certain number of years as an apprentice or intern. This is especially true if the candidate is seeking a librarian position in a school. Countries such as Australia and Canada also require librarian membership. In Australia, prospective librarians must also become members of the Australian Library and Information Association and in Canada they must join the Canadian Library Association.

In 2006, the ALA created another method of receiving a librarian certification for those who have three or more years of librarian experience, but do not yet have certification. This is called the Certified Public Library Administrator (CPLA). In some countries, a certain number of years in apprenticeship may automatically qualify a person for librarian certification.

Not all states require that all members of staff have librarian certification. States like Massachusetts only ask for directors of libraries to have certification, while other states like Iowa require a certain number of librarians be certified in order to receive government funding. Most schools, however, do prefer librarians who are certified and have teaching experience.

Considering all the variances, it is recommended that anyone wishing to become a certified librarian in the US contact the state board of education or visit the ALA for state-by-state requirements. Typically, to earn a librarian certification, the candidate must first have a teaching certification in any subject and take an ALA accredited course. This is usually followed by a test in library media.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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