Thomas Brown
Do librarians have certifications?

Requirements for librarians vary by state, type of library, size of library, job position, and number of people served in the community. To further complicate matters, if certification is required, the requirements for certification can also vary depending on the state, size of the library, type of job, or number of people in the community, and may or may not require a library science degree. The two main types of certifications are for public libraries and school media specialists. Both may require certification by state law. Other libraries and institutions may require certain credentials or professional certificates. These may be necessary for certain positions but are not licenses from the government.

Public Libraries
The ALA-APA (American Library Association Allied Professional Association) has a partial list of certification requirements for public librarians listed by state. There is also a discussion of some common requirements between states and how they differ. Not all states have certification programs, programs may be mandatory or voluntary in order to qualify for more pay. Often certification for public librarians is tied to career growth and requires continuing education in order to recertify every few years. Specific requirements, procedures and forms for each state can be obtained from your state's department of education, department of state or similar governing body.

Mibeck, Gwyneth. Grady, Jennifer. 2006. State and Regional Library Certification Programs. Certification. ALA-APA.0rg. Retrived from:

New York State Public Libraries
At fist glance New York State policies seem straight forward. All full and part time employees providing "library information services" to populations of a certain size (over 7,500 residents) must have certification. Certification requires a masters degree in library science from a school recognized by the State Education Department or the American Library Association. The only other thing you have to do is pay five dollars and fill out the application for certification which just asks for your personal information (name and address) and degree verification. Public librarians gaining certification after January 1, 2010 will have to undergo 60 hours of continuing education credits every five years in order to recertify. The form for a public librarian's professional certificate can be obtained from the New York State Department of Education (NYSED) and the New York State Library (NYSL) available from the link below.

Hazapis, Maria. 2009. New York State Public Librarian Certification.
Retrieved from:

Some public librarians in New York state do not need certification if they serve a population under 7,500. These libraries may employ someone with a bachelors degree and this person does not need to apply for any professional certifications. A library serving under 5,000 people can employ someone with only two years of academic study at an approved college or university. For a full discussion on who must be certified see Education Law NYCRR Title 8, 90.8 Appointment of Library Personnel.

NYCRR Title 8- Education 90.8 Appointment of library personnel.
Retrieved from: Last updated: March 22, 2010.

School Media Specialists
(Public School Librarians)
The American Association of School Librarians discusses state requirements for school librarians.

Each state has different requirements in order for a person to receive certification or licensure. For school librarians or library media specialists many states first require certification or licensure as a teacher in another subject area before the librarian certification can be obtained.

Some states require a master's degree while others require only certification or licensure. Contact the state department of education where you plan to work for details. Many states will accept a teacher/library certification from another state. If you move to another state you will want to check with the certifying agency to see if your certificates are transferable or accepted. With a master’s degree you have a wider selection of options for employment with other types of libraries; your mobility, career aspirations, current life obligations, and location will also impact your choice of degree or licensure.

Library Education and Licensing. 2010. The American Association of School Librarians. Retrieved from:

Links to Departments of Education by State
Each state's department of education will have specific details on certification and downloadable forms. To view these follow the links below.

Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
West Virginia


Singleton, Bob. 2009. 50 States Certification Requirements. The University of Kentucky College of Education. Retrieved from:

School Media Specialist (New York)

New York, like many states, requires school librarians to be cerified in a manner similar to other teachers. While you do not need to be a teacher in another subject, you do need a masters degree in Library Science from a school accredited by the ALA or the education department. There are also some other tests, workshops and background checks. The New York Department of Education provides this list for the school media specialist certification. It is also worth noting that the librarian certification is for all grades, K-12, whereas other teachers are certified for certain age groups.


Certification. Office of Teaching Initiatives. Retrieved from: