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Public Library Director Certification

Librarian certification for public library directors has been a part of Wisconsin law since 1921 when the legislature passed the first comprehensive state public librarian certification law. The concern was then, and continues to be, that the public libraries of the state be headed by qualified library personnel, assuring a high level of professional management and administration of Wisconsin's library resources, programs and services. There are three (3) grades of certificates for public library directors and information about grade requirements are below. Here is the entire Certification Manual for Wisconsin Public Library Directors.

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Forms for Certification
Who Should Apply
When to Apply
How to Apply
Interim Director
Types of Certification
Regular Certification
Regular Grade 1 Certification
Regular Grade 2 Certification
Regular Grade 3 Certification
Summary of Regular Certification
Temporary Certification
 

Temporary Grade 1 Certification
Temporary Grade 2 Certification
Temporary Grade 3 Certification
Temporary Certification Summary
Lapsed Certification
Provisional Certification
Educational Equivalencies
Application and Renewal Form
Certification Renewal
Certification Courses for Grades II & III
Certification Manual (complete)
Recertification of Public Library Director

Applying for Certification

 

Who Should Apply

Administrators of public library systems, county libraries, county library services, and municipal public libraries, except Milwaukee Public Library, must hold certification as described in this manual. An “administrator” of a library or system is, according to administrative rules, the head librarian or other person appointed by the board of the library or system to direct and administer the library or system. Often the terms “library administrator,” “library director,” and “head librarian” are used interchangeably.

Directors of public libraries and library systems must hold certification (s. 43.09(1) Wis. Stats. and PI 6.03(2) Wis. Admin. Code). Having a properly certified library director also is one of the statutory membership requirements for belonging to a public library system (s. 43.15(4)(c)(6) Wis. Stats.).

When to Apply

Directors must be appropriately certified or eligible for certification upon employment. The types of certification considered appropriate for new employment include regular certification and temporary certification as described in this manual. In order for a library to be in compliance with system membership requirements, directors eligible for regular certification must apply immediately upon employment if they are not already certified. Directors must apply within three months of employment to be eligible for temporary certification. Temporary certification will not be issued to directors after they have served three months (90 days) in their position.

Certification is not required by law for library personnel other than directors. Assistant directors and others, such as department heads and reference librarians, are not considered library directors. The educational and library coursework requirements in the Wisconsin Administrative Code were designed for library directors, not for those with other positions in libraries.

Persons other than library directors may apply for any grade level and type of certification for which they are eligible. Voluntary certification will be in accordance with the principles and procedures that apply to required certification as set forth in the Wisconsin Statutes and the Wisconsin Administrative Code, including the requirement that certification be maintained on a continuing basis. Individuals considering applying for voluntary certification are strongly encouraged to consult with the public library system continuing education or certification consultant for their area or the Division for Libraries and Technology before submitting their application to the Division.

Applicants for library director position do not need to be certified prior to accepting a position. An applicant must have the appropriate education to be eligible for the director position. That means that if the community being served requires a Grade 1 librarian (population greater than 6,000), then applicants must already have a Bachelor's degree and a Master's degree in Library Studies. Grade 2 librarians (population greater than 3,000 and less than 5,999) must already possess a bachelor's degree, etc. Grade II and Grade III director positions have up to four years to complete the four library courses.

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Interim Director

An interim director is a person who may substitute as the director of a public library or public library system for a short time and is suitable for the stability of library or system operations. However, only the person hired by the library board as the permanent library director satisfies the law requiring a public library director at the appropriate grade level.

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How to Apply

The Division for Libraries & Technology is responsible for approving and issuing public librarian certificates. Send the completed application form and the applicable fee and supporting documents (copy of a transcript, a copy of a degree, or certificate that states your educational level) to:

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction
Attn: Accounts Receivable
125 South Webster Street
P.O. Box 7841
Madison, WI 53707-7841

Forms
 

  1. Application and Renewal Form
  2. Continuing Education (CE) Activity Report
  3. Annual Summation of CE Activities

Types of Certification

There are three types of certification currently available in Wisconsin: regular, temporary, and provisional. The following descriptions of the grade levels and educational requirements for public librarian certification are taken from the Wisconsin Administrative Code. 

Regular Certification

A regular certificate is issued for a five-year period. It may be renewed upon evidence which satisfies the Division for Libraries & Technology that the holder has participated in continuing education in librarianship which is directly related to the position held or will permit advancement in the profession. A certificate is valid through the last day of the month in which it expires.

The requirement for certification renewal is participation in 100 contact hours of continuing education as defined in this manual. Relevant municipal, joint municipal and county populations are those reported by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, in the most recent federal decennial census.

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Regular Grade 1 Certification

Administrators of municipal, joint, and county public libraries with a municipal, joint municipal, or county population of 6,000 or more, and administrators of public library systems, are required to hold grade I certificates.

The educational requirements for initial grade I certification are a bachelor’s degree from a college or university approved by an accrediting association of more than statewide standing and a master’s degree from a library school program accredited by the American Library Association.

Individuals certified at grade I must participate in 100 contact hours of continuing education in the five-year period prior to recertification.

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Regular Grade 2 Certification

Administrators of municipal, joint, and county libraries with a municipal, joint municipal or county population between 3,000 and 5,999 are required to hold at least grade II certificates.

The educational requirements for grade II certification are a bachelor’s degree from a college or university approved by an accrediting association of more than statewide standing, including or supplemented by 12 semester credits of coursework or the equivalent, approved by the division, in each of the following areas:

  • Basic Public Library Administration
  • Advanced Public Library Administration
  • Organization and Management of Collections
  • Public and Community Services

OR

Individuals who obtain a bachelor’s degree with a minor in library science may be certified at the Grade II level upon completion of the Advanced Public Library Administration course.*

Individuals certified at grade II must participate in 100 contact hours of continuing education, including at least 10 hours of technology training, in the five-year period prior to recertification.

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Regular Grade III Certification

Administrators of municipal, joint, and county libraries with a municipal, joint municipal or county population under 3,000 are required to hold at least Grade III certificates.

The educational requirements for Grade III certification are 54 semester credits, half of which must be in the liberal arts and sciences, at a college or university approved by an accrediting association of more than statewide standing, including or supplemented by 12 semester credits of coursework or the equivalent, approved by the division, in the following areas:

  • Basic public library administration
  • Advanced public library administration
  • Organization and management of collections
  • Public and community services

Individuals certified at grade III must participate in 100 contact hours of continuing education, including at least 10 hours of technology training, in the five-year period prior to recertification.

Courses in the liberal arts and sciences include the study of the behavioral and social sciences, fine arts, humanities, natural sciences, and mathematics.

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Summary of Regular Certification Requirements

Municipal Population 6,000 or more 3,000 to 5,999 Fewer than 3,000
Grade Level Grade I Grade II Grade III
General Education Requirements Bachelor’s degree Bachelor’s degree 54 semester credits, half of which must be in the liberal arts and sciences
Library Education Requirements Master’s degree from American Library Association accredited program 12 Semester credits in the following areas:
  • Basic public library administration
  • Advanced public library administration
  • Organization and management of collections
  • Public and community services

Basic public library administration must be completed in the first year; thereafter, at least one course per year must be taken annually.

OR

Bachelor’s degree with a minor in Library Science AND Advanced public library administration course.

Continuing Education Requirements
  • 100 hours in the five-year period prior to recertification
  • At least 10 hours of the 100 hours must be technology-related training

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Temporary Certification

The Division for Libraries & Technology may grant temporary certification at the appropriate grade level to enable the following applicants to complete the library education requirements. Temporary certificates are valid through the last day of the month in which they expire. Applicants must apply for temporary certification within three months of employment as a library director in order to be eligible for such certification. Temporary certificates shall not be granted to allow applicants to complete the general education requirements for the applicable grade level.

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Temporary Grade I Certification

An applicant for grade I certification who has a bachelor’s degree and is currently enrolled a library school accredited by the American Library Association but has not yet completed the master’s degree. The applicant shall provide the division a written schedule for completing this requirement. The proposed schedule requires approval by the division. The certificate is valid for up to one year and is not renewable.

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Temporary Grade II Certification

A temporary Grade II certification can be earned in one of two ways.
1. An applicant for grade II certification who has a bachelor’s degree but has not earned 12 semester credits of coursework or the equivalent, approved by the division, in the following areas:

  • Basic public library administration
  • Advanced public library administration
  • Organization and management of collections
  • Public and community services

The applicant shall provide the division a written schedule for completing this requirement, outlining the courses that will be taken and approximate dates. The proposed schedule requires approval by the division. The certificate may be renewed on an annual basis up to 3 times for a total coverage not exceeding a period of 4 years, provided the applicant has completed a basic public library administration course by the end of the first year and at least one course by the end of each subsequent year, not to exceed 4 years. The certificate is not renewable a fourth time.

OR

2. An applicant for grade II certification who has a bachelor’s degree with a minor in library science but has not earned 3 semester credits of coursework in Advanced Public Library Administration.

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Temporary Grade III Certification

An applicant for grade III certification who has 54 semester credits but has not earned 12 semester credits of coursework or the equivalent, approved by the division, in the following areas:

  • Basic Public Library Administration
  • Advanced Public Library Administration
  • Organization and Management of Collections
  • Public and Community Services

The applicant shall provide the division a written schedule for completing this requirement, outlining the courses that will be taken and approximate dates. The proposed schedule requires approval by the division. The certificate may be renewed on an annual basis up to 3 times for a total coverage not exceeding a period of 4 years, provided the applicant has completed a basic public library administration course by the end of the first year and at least one course by the end of each subsequent year, not to exceed 4 years. The certificate is not renewable a fourth time.

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Lapsed Certification

A temporary certificate may be awarded to an applicant for certification who was previously certified and whose certification has been expired for at least one year and who has not served as the administrator of a public library or public library system in Wisconsin during that period. The applicant must meet the basic requirements for initial regular certification at the appropriate grade level. An applicant who receives a temporary certificate under these conditions shall complete at least 20 contact hours of continuing education during the temporary certification period. The certificate is valid for up to one year and is not renewable. The applicant will be eligible for regular certification upon completion of the 20 contact hours of continuing education.

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Summary of Temporary Certification Requirements

Grade Level

Grade I

Minimum education requirement is a bachelor’s degree

Grade II

Minimum education requirement is a bachelor’s degree

Grade III

Minimum education requirement is 54 semester credits

Required Library Courses Master’s degree in library science from ALA accredited library school

12 semester credits of coursework or the equivalent, approved by the division, in the following areas:

  • Basic Public Library Administration
  • Advanced Public Library Administration
  • Organization and Management of Collections
  • Public and Community Services

OR

Bachelor’s degree with a minor in library science and 3 semester credit coursework in Advanced Public Library Administration.

Required Time Frame No specified courses or sequence for courses. The master’s degree in library science must be completed within one year. The four courses must be completed within four years. The Basic public library administration course must be completed by the end of the first year and at least one of the other courses each subsequent year not to exceed 4 years.

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Provisional Certification

The Division for Libraries & Technology may grant provisional certification at the appropriate grade level for a five-year period, and renewal every five years thereafter, to the following applicants, provided they continue to work at the same library and comply with continuing education requirements for recertification. Certificates are valid through the last day of the month in which they expire.

a. An applicant who is employed as the administrator for a public library in which he or she was originally certified at the appropriate grade level but is no longer properly certified due to the population growth of the jurisdiction in which the public library is located. Administrators of public libraries affected by a population increase will be notified by the division when the new federal decennial census figures are available, and the upgrade will be effective at that time.

b. An applicant who was already employed as the administrator for the public library in which he or she is currently employed at the time the library, became a member or part of a public library system or a joint public library, or who was employed as the administrator for the public library.

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Educational Equivalencies

In several sections of the Wisconsin Administrative Code, the Division for Libraries & Technology is allowed discretion in determining equivalents for educational requirements. In general, judgment as to equivalencies will be handled on a case-by-case basis. The following guidelines will be used:

a. Applicants with master’s degrees from unaccredited library school programs and two years of successful library experience after graduation may be granted Grade I certification at the discretion of the division.

b. The following courses offered by the University of Wisconsin–Madison, School of Library and Information Studies, Continuing Education Services, although not offered for academic credit, are considered equivalent to comparable credit courses.

  • Basic public library administration
  • Advanced public library administration
  • Organization and management of collections
  • Public and community services

c. Colleges, universities, and other agencies wishing to have noncredit courses considered as equivalents to credit courses should submit course outlines and information for consideration to the Division for Libraries & Technology. Courses should allow for discussion of topics and materials that are relevant in a public library setting. While the courses may focus on school library media programs, for example, students must have an opportunity to explore issues as they relate to public library services. In particular, library administration courses must include specific content related to the philosophy, governance, organization, and management of a public library.

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Certification Renewal

Regular and provisional certificates are issued for five-year periods. They are valid through the last day of the month in which they expire. They may be renewed upon evidence which satisfies the Division for Libraries &Technology that the holder has participated in continuing education in librarianship which is either directly related to the position held or will permit advancement in the profession, and, in the case of provisional certificates, provided the applicant continues to work in the same library.  Please refer to CE & Recertification for extensive information about requirements and continuing education.

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For questions about this information, contact Shannon Schultz (608) 266-7270