Lois Blythe, Head of Adult Services at the Burlington (Ia.) Public Library, is the first candidate to complete the Certified Public Library Administrator Program. Blythe completed the requisite seven courses in record time, becoming the first public librarian to earn the designation of CPLA. The CPLA program, administered by the American Library Association-Allied Professional Association, is a voluntary credential for public librarians who want to learn managerial competencies in areas like personnel, facilities, marketing and technology.
Blythe was admitted to the CPLA program when it began in the spring of 2006. There are now 87 additional candidates. She knew she wanted to become a director. Blythe has been practicing in the field and learning to be an administrator on-the-job, but felt that CPLA would “afford me the opportunity to develop the business management skills I need to perform confidently and competently in a director’s position.”
It’s amazing that Blythe was able to finish the program in 18 months, in the midst of her library moving to another building. It was a struggle, but with the support of her supervisor, Blythe continued to stretch [herself] by “learning new techniques, strategies, and technologies that can assist us in our workplaces and in our personal lives.”
Blythe feels that one of the most valuable aspects of the program is that the assignments were organized so that they could be used at work.
Members of the CPLA Certification Review Committee were impressed by her technology and marketing plans. They said, “Wow! Her final projects were both informative and entertaining, but most importantly, her use of background statistics showed that she was basing her project on genuine demonstrated needs. Her analyses were realistic and comprehensive…proposed changes were creative and yet feasible.”
CPLA courses are delivered either face-to-face or online. Blythe completed three of her seven courses online from the University of North Texas. She said, “I liked having the ability to choose when and where I would read, chat with other participants, and complete my assignments.” Her instructor, Dr. Arlita Harris, said Blythe “was a model student, submitting assignments on schedule and participating in discussions among class members. It thrills me that Lois is our first ‘graduate.’ I congratulate her!”
Completing the CPLA program gave Blythe confidence, strengthened her writing and presentation skills, and expanded her understanding of library policies and procedures. Blythe also found herself becoming more active in her state association as a result of the Politics and Networking course. She said, “I am thrilled and surprised to be the first candidate to complete the CPLA program. It was a worthwhile endeavor and I would recommend the program to other librarians looking to hone, revitalize, and broaden their skills.”
ALA-APA invites public librarians to apply. Candidates must have an ALA-accredited MLS (or equivalent) and at least three years of supervisory experience in a public library. To learn more about the current candidates, see http://www.ala-apa.org/certification/cplacandidates.pdf. To apply, please visit the CPLA website at http://www.ala-apa.org/certification/cpla.html. Contact the ALA-APA office if you have questions at 800-545-2433, x2424 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The next deadline is March 8, 2008.
ALA-APA: the Organization for the Advancement of Library Employees is a service organization to the American Library Association and the library community. It has two missions: providing certification in specializations of librarianship and advocacy for salary improvement efforts.