State/Regional Certifications (primarily for public library staff)

State Certifications – MLS* – (.xls)

State Certifications – Non-MLS* – (.xls)

Although more than half of the 50 states offer or require certificates or certification for public library workers, the standards for certification are not universal and the requirements vary from state to state. The greatest difference among states was required education. While some only certify librarians who have obtained a MLS accredited by the ALA, a number provide different levels of certification to incorporate those not holding the degree. For states certifying individuals without a MLS, related work experience and continuing education are taken into account. States usually have laws that govern certification (SC). They may be for all levels of staff (KY), only for librarians, or only for directors (MA). Some staff have to get the certification in order for the library to receive state funding (MI) or because they participate in the state retirement plan. The purpose for the certifications may be as a legal requirement, skills enhancement (OK), or as requirement to practice (VA). They may require an application, copies of diplomas, or an exam (NM). They may be free (IA) or cost up to $80.00 (GA). Re-certification or renewals may be scheduled anytime from biennially (GA) to never (IN); and usually are granted with documented completion of continuing education activities.

The objective of certification varies by state:

  • State law may require librarians to be certified. States without a certification law may provide a voluntary program in conjunction with continuing education. Only 12 states require public certification by law.
  • States with different levels of certification aim to provide non-MLS individuals with courses to improve competencies and work performance. States may provide different certification levels to accommodate different educational backgrounds.
  • The required certification programs in nearly all cases can only be renewed with proof of continuing education hours.
  • Certification may be requirement for library directors and administrators, but optional for general librarians.
  • Some states required librarians to be certified as a prerequisite for receiving state aid.
  • Some states provide certification, but do not have a certification program.

Source: Gwyneth Mibeck, former ALA-APA Intern, and Jenifer Grady

As of April 2006.


Many states and regions either have certification programs for library workers or are developing them. They differ in these ways:

  • all states do not have certification programs or requirements
  • certification may be mandatory or voluntary
  • certification may be for all library workers or particular categories
  • certification may be granted based on exam(s), portfolio(s), and/or course evaluation
  • certification may be related to individual career growth possibilities
  • certification has a range of costs

*This list excludes school librarians only because the American Association of School Librarians has done a great job of providing information on school librarian certification.

If your state and/or certification requirements are not included in the list, please send information to