Certified Public Library Administrator Program Guidelines

Voluntary, post-Masters

The candidate must possess an ALA-recognized degree in library and information studies. [ALA Policy 54.2, 54.2.1, 54.2.2, 56.1]

Three kinds of credentials are recognized in ALA policy:

•  A master’s degree from a program accredited by the American Library Association.

•  A master’s level program in library and information studies accredited or recognized by the appropriate national body of another country.

•  A master’s degree with a specialty in school library media from an educational unit accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (for school library media specialists only).

A candidate for first-time certification must have a minimum of three years supervisory experience in relevant professional practice. Supervision of paid employees, unpaid employees, students, or volunteers is acceptable.

Individuals may take 5 years to complete a certification program. If an individual does not complete the program within 5 years, the individual must begin the program again.

Both ALA members and nonmembers may participate in the certification program.


Providers must apply to and be approved by a Certification Review Committee established for review of each proposed certification specialty program. The approval will be based on the provider’s self-attestation that the provider’s program fulfills the guidelines established by the Certification Review Committee, which includes an evaluation component and a record of completion (i.e. a grade, certification, notarized letter). ALA-APA does not “endorse” a specific provider.

Courses meeting the CPLA standards may be provided by the ALA and its divisions, by other professional organizations (e.g., ALA Chapters, AASL Affiliates, LIS programs, other university programs, independent trainers or other organizations), vendors, independent consultants, etc. Courses may simultaneously meet one or more of the four core standards and five elective standards.

Support materials may be provided solely by ALA-APA as a revenue-generating activity.

Providers will offer training through a variety of venues (e.g., workshops, printed materials, online courses, distance education, conference programming).


The competencies and requirements for professional practice (e.g., the body of knowledge, required experience, mandated skills) in a specialty will be established by the appropriate ALA division, as authorized by the ALA Council [ALA Bylaws Article VI]. These competencies will be adopted as the competencies required for certification by the ALA-APA.

Initial certification will be based on completion of courses and evaluations. Each applicant must complete coursework and evaluation of each of the four core standards and three of the five electives. Applicants will submit to ALA-APA evidence of completion of a standard within two years of completing the course. Completion of each standard must be submitted to ALA-APA separately. The Certification Review Committee will evaluate whether applicants have satisfied the requirements of each standard.

Certification will be for a five-year period, with re-certification based on demonstrated continuing professional development (e.g., demonstration of commitment to continuing education, demonstration of competence through portfolio). Applications for re-certification will be made to the Certification Review Committee for that program of certification. If re-certification is approved, the certification will be valid for five years. If the candidate fails to demonstrate continuing education and competence, the re-certification will be denied. The decision of the Certification Review Committee may be appealed to the ALA-APA Certification Program Committee. Decisions of the CPC may be appealed to the ALA-APA Board of Directors through the ALA-APA office. The Board’s decision is final.

Certification, unlike licensure, should not be considered a statutory requirement for a particular job. Certification would, however, provide valuable information that the employer could use in determining the relative qualification of a candidate.


The ALA-APA Board will establish a Certification Review Committee, of three to five members, for each proposed certification specialty program. The sponsoring division(s) will be represented on the Committee. Each Certification Review Committee will include active practitioners and LIS educators. The primary purpose of a Certification Review Committee will be to oversee development and administration of a program, based on the competencies for professional practice developed by a division of the American Library Association. Appointments to a Certification Review Committee will be for four years, non-renewable. Initial appointments will be staggered. The Certification Review Committee will report to the ALA-APA Board of Directors.

The ALA-APA Certification Program Committee will oversee the activities of each Certification Review Committee. This committee is charged to (1) encourage and promote development of certification programs, (2) monitor and evaluate the progress of such programs, (3) encourage individuals to seek certification through such programs of the ALA-APA, and (4) make recommendations to the ALA-APA Board of Directors for general improvements to ALA-APA certification, based on evaluations and trends in certification practice. The committee shall consist of five individuals, including the chair. The Certification Program Committee also reports to the ALA-APA Board of Directors.

The ALA Committee on Education has a significant role in bringing specialty certification proposals forward:

•  To ensure that the proposals include a consistent and adequate articulation of specialized competencies and requirements and that ALA members are informed about new standards for professional practice (e.g., knowledge base, specific experience);

•  To work with staff to ensure that new competencies for professional practice and certification areas become accessible to ALA-APA; and,

•  To report regularly to the ALA Council on competency development and certification activities.


Funding for the certification program will be generated through four revenue streams-the cost charged to applicants for admission into the certification program, standards reviews, re-certification, and annual fees from approved providers. Providers will be charged for each standard that a course satisfies (i.e. a provider with a course satisfying two standards will be charged two fees, one for each standard).

In lieu of ALA-APA licensing standards, the sponsoring ALA divisions will not pay approved provider fees. However, if the ALA divisions license their content to outside providers, the division(s) contracts will include the approved provider fees and this amount will be transferred to ALA-APA for each standard.