Certification Working Group Summary- 2002-2003 ALA-APA CD#2.4

2002-2003 ALA-APA CD# 2.4
(2003 ALA Midwinter Meeting)

ALA-APA Transition Team: Certification Working Group

The establishment of a 501(c)(6) Allied Professional Association (ALA-APA) for the American Library Association has made possible a certification program for individuals who have reached an advanced level of competency in an area of specialization in the library field. The initial certification program will be the Certified Public Library Administrator (CPLA) program, developed by PLA, LAMA, and ASCLA in 1998.


The mission of the ALA/APA Certification Program is to certify that individuals have reached an advanced level of competency in an area of specialization in the library field. The mission is not to accredit programs.

The certification program will be guided by the principles of equitable and nondiscriminatory access, certification through competency-based testing, use of multiple providers and a rich variety of venues, and member-generated needs.


  • To improve professional practice in librarianship through the establishment of continuing professional development goals;
  • To identify a body of knowledge and skills necessary to the practice of librarianship and/or to a specific specialization within librarianship; and,
  • To recognize those individuals who have demonstrated both mastery of a body of knowledge and skills and continuing commitment to ongoing professional development.


(See http://www.ala-apa.org/certification/for additional documentation.)

The path to certification involves a number of steps. A proposal for standards in a particular area of specialization is first presented to the appropriate division, which develops the “standards for professional practice,” or competencies, required for that area of specialization. The proposal is then sent to the ALA Committee on Education and, if approved, is used by the ALA-APA Board. The ALA-APA Board appoints a Certification Review Committee (for that particular certification program) to oversee the development and validation of the certification exam. The Certification Review Committee also approves providers of coursework to satisfy the competencies. In order to provide fair and equitable access to certification, the coursework will be provided throughout the country, as will access to the exam. When individuals pass the exam, they will be certified in that area of specialty by the ALA/APA for three years, renewable by demonstration of continued professional development.

Specific decisions about participants, providers, certification, governance, and funding have been developed into certification guidelines. The guidelines are backed up by suggested procedures to be followed at each step of the process and by a governance process developed for the CPLA certification program of PLA/LAMA/ASCLA that can serve as a model for every certification program. Finally, a suggested process for investigating the certification of Library Technical Assistants is proposed.

Please see the documents (http://www.ala-apa.org/certification/) for certification path, guidelines, procedures, and governance.