Arkansas School Librarian Certification Guide - 2022

AKA: Arkansas Library Media Specialist, Arkansas LMS

Last Reviewed: August 23rd, 2022

Being a librarian can be a challenging and rewarding career. Introducing new technology to foster learning in young minds, presenting methods of using it to stay organized and communicate to others, are all needed from librarians today. Librarians must seek creative ways of using technology to engage students and support the school’s curriculum. The role of the library as a place to study and gather information hasn’t changed. It takes a flexible, caring person, who thinks “outside the box” to fill the role of a librarian. 

Certification or licensure is expected from many first-time entrants into various careers. Achieving this goal indicates that the person seeking certification has mastered a certain set of knowledge and skills. Having successfully learned the necessary curriculum and attained the certification proves that the skills have been mastered.

The track or path to certification for school librarians in Arkansas requires initially having a teaching certificate. So, when certification is discussed, it is from the standpoint of already being a certified educator. 

Initial Arkansas School Librarian Certification

Educational Requirements

In Arkansas, the Library Media Specialist is expected to have a Teaching License and a Master’s Degree in Library and Media Sciences. 

Since a Library Media Specialist is a licensed educator, they must renew their teacher’s license. This must be done every five years. They are also expected to complete 36 hours of professional development in areas approved by the Arkansas Department of Education, as part of this process. Follow the highlighted link to professional development activities. They give an idea of the type of development activities librarians might be expected to participate in.

Education is the starting point for school librarians. They are expected to support teachers in delivering their curriculum. They are also expected to teach students how to use information technology responsibly. This includes the use of copyrighted material. School librarians are expected to understand technology well enough to teach it and well enough to use it in support of curriculum goals.

There are plenty of choices when searching for a school to learn to be a librarian. Being a librarian today is not just about books and literature. The emphasis on technology changes the way the career looks today.

Look for a school in the state where you would like to be a school librarian or select an online option. The curriculum offered is most likely geared toward the certification requirements of that state. Whether you choose one close to you or not look for these attributes when selecting the best education program:

  • Is the school or program accredited by the American Library Association (ALA)?
  • Review the courses offered to make sure the school will meet your needs.
  • Understand the tuition and fee structure at a school. Cost can vary from person to person.

This short list only scratches the surface of how best to find a school to start your learning and reach your potential as a School Library Media Specialist. Go to the ALA website for more information.

Experience Requirements

In Arkansas, two years of teaching experience is required before someone can become a Library Media Specialist. Having been in the classroom comes in handy when working with students. Hands-on experience can prepare a librarian when it comes to introducing new technology or new concepts to students. Technology is inherently complex, and today’s librarians are sometimes the first point of contact when students learn about it. 

Knowing first-hand what teachers need and how to support them allows a candidate for the job to speak about it from this perspective. It reassures a potential employer you know the job. Experience as a librarian or teacher will help you convince a prospective school administrator that you understand the demands of the job.

Testing Requirements

To complete your Library Media Specialist certification, you must take and pass a Praxis Library Media Specialist Test with a score of 148. This test is administered by Educational Testing Service or ETS, a well-known testing organization. The current testing fee is $120.00. 

ETS offers a practice test that simulates the actual Library Media Specialist, 5311, test. You must pay $19.00 for the practice test. Using this will help you become familiar with the test and how it is administered. You can see your results after taking it. These results include explanations about the correct answers to the questions.

Background Checks

The background check is about trust. Parents put a lot of trust in schools and those who run them to care for the educational needs and wellbeing of their children. Parents, and the community, would quickly lose faith in an institution that employed people with criminal backgrounds to guide their children. The background check assures a potential employer that a potential employee can be trusted. 

The background check process in Arkansas consists of the following:

  • Start by going to the Arkansas Division of Elementary and Secondary Education website. Find the Educator Effectiveness and Licensure > Background Check page.
  • Next, fill out the Online Background Check Consent Form.
  • Then submit your Background Check Payment online. Note: online payment is only available for in-state applicants. Out-of-state applicants must request a fingerprint card from the Arkansas Department of Education, through email.
  • Fill out the Child Maltreatment Check form. This is an electronic form. Once it is filled out it will be emailed to you. Print it. Then sign it in and have it witnessed by a notary. It must then be uploaded to the Central Registry. The details of this process can be found here.
  • The last step is to check your employability status. It may take a month for this information to be available.
  • The background check process requires payment of fees totaling about $38.25. Fees may vary if you are submitting fingerprints from out-of-state. The Child Maltreatment Check fee is $10.00.

The background check will find any state or federal criminal records associated with you. The Child Maltreatment Check compares your information against those in the registry. People in the registry are those who have been accused of abuse.

Application Process

Once the background, and associated checks, are complete you can begin the application process. Go here to start the process online. You will have to create an account with the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE). This is not the only option, however.

If you would like to do it the old fashion way, on paper, or you just want to see what the application looks like without making an account, click here. This is the paper application. You can also request one in writing through the postal service. There is a “For More Information” contact address:

Office of Educator Licensure

Arkansas Department of Education

Four Capitol Mall, Room 106-B

Little Rock, AR 72201

Phone:  501-682-4342

Email: ade.educatorlicensure@ade.arkansas.gov

The application fee is $75.00. If you choose to use the “paper” application option, you must send it to:

Submit application and payment to:

Office of Educator Licensure

Arkansas Department of Education

Four Capitol Mall, Rooms 106-B and107-B

Little Rock, AR 72201-1071

Whether you complete the application online or on paper be prepared to attach all pertinent certificates, transcripts, licenses, and your resume as part of the application package you will submit. If possible, note that the background check has been completed or the results are in the process of being sent.

If the application process is successful, the applicant will receive a Standard Teachers certification good for five years. This is considered a “probationary” period. During this time, the new teacher will likely work with an experienced teacher who will be their mentor.

Alternative Librarian Certification Process

In Arkansas, the application process for an Alternative Certification, called a Non-traditional (APPEL) License, is the same as for the standard license. The application can be filled out online or on paper. The paper application has a section to indicate which type of license the applicant wants to receive.

Once the license is granted it is good for or must be renewed in three years. During that time, the teacher or librarian is expected to be working in the classroom, getting first-hand experience.

The Arkansas Professional Pathway to Educator Licensure or APPEL is designed for people with little or no experience teaching. The goal is for them to intern or learn by doing. You can participate in a mentor program during that time.

Educational Requirements

A bachelor’s degree is the minimum needed to apply for and start the licensing process. However, this does not meet the requirements for the Library Media Specialist. Though this certainly could be the goal.

If you are transitioning from another career or major area of study with the desire to be a Library Media Specialist, you should probably complete some library science training or teaching coursework first.

Arkansas offers an accelerated teaching program, Arkansas Teacher Corps, for high achievers. You can teach while completing your coursework. 

If you are interested in starting as a librarian, you must earn a Master’s Degree in Library Science or study the equivalent course work at the master’s level. This may mean you have to go school shopping.

Look for a school or university that not only has Library Science courses but is accredited by the ALA or American Library Association. Make sure the courses meet your needs. Talk to librarians you know for recommendations.

Experience Requirements

Experience as a librarian or teacher will help you convince a prospective school administrator that you understand the demands of the job. All our experiences add up. As a professional making the leap into library science/teaching you will bring a unique perspective. That said, research has shown that teachers become more effective over time. So, any experience you can get as a teacher or librarian will help you transition into that role more quickly. You might volunteer at a local library or school to gain additional experience.

Testing Requirements

To complete your Library Media Specialist certification, you must take and pass a Praxis Library Media Specialist Test with a score of 148. This test is administered by Educational Testing Service or ETS, a well-known testing organization. The current testing fee is $120.00. 

ETS offers a practice test that simulates the actual Library Media Specialist, 5311, test. You must pay $19.00 for the practice test. Using this will help you become familiar with the test and how it is administered. You can see your results after taking it. These results include explanations about the correct answers to the questions. 

Background Check

The background check is about trust. Parents put a lot of trust in schools and those who run them to care for the educational needs and wellbeing of their children. Parents, and the community, would quickly lose faith in an institution that employed people with criminal backgrounds to guide their children. The background check assures a potential employer that a potential employee can be trusted. 

The background check process in Arkansas consists of the following:

  • Start by going to the Arkansas Division of Elementary and Secondary Education website. Find the Educator Effectiveness and Licensure > Background Check page.
  • Next, fill out the Online Background Check Consent Form.
  • Then submit your Background Check Payment online. Note: online payment is only available for in-state applicants. Out-of-state applicants must request a fingerprint card from the Arkansas Department of Education, through email.
  • Fill out the Child Maltreatment Check form. This is an electronic form. Once it is filled out it will be emailed to you. Print it. Then sign it in and have it witnessed by a notary. It must then be uploaded to the Central Registry. The details of this process can be found here.
  • The last step is to check your employability status. It may take a month for this information to be available.
  • The background check process requires payment of fees totaling about $38.25. Fees may vary if you are submitting fingerprints from out-of-state. The Child Maltreatment Check fee is $10.00.

The background check will find any state or federal criminal records associated with you. The Child Maltreatment Check compares your information against those in the registry. People in the registry are those who have been accused of abuse. 

Application Process

As mentioned above, the application process for the Alternative or Non-Traditional License is the same as for the Standard License.

Go here to start the process online. You will have to create an account with the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE). This is not the only option, however.

If you would like to do it the old fashion way, on paper, or you just want to see what the application looks like without making an account, click here. This is the paper application. You can also request one in writing through the U. S. Postal Service. There is a “For More Information” contact address:

Office of Educator Licensure

Arkansas Department of Education

Four Capitol Mall, Room 106-B

Little Rock, AR 72201

Phone:  501-682-4342

Email: ade.educatorlicensure@ade.arkansas.gov

The application fee is $75.00. If you choose to use the “paper” application option, you must send the completed form to:

Submit application and payment to:

Office of Educator Licensure

Arkansas Department of Education

Four Capitol Mall, Rooms 106-B and 107-B

Little Rock, AR 72201-1071

Whether you complete the application online or on paper be prepared to attach all pertinent certificates, transcripts, licenses, and your resume as part of the application package you will submit. If possible, note that the background check has been completed or the results are in the process of being sent.

Certification Renewal

The certification renewal process is almost the same as the process for applying for the initial, Standard teaching license. A new background check must be conducted. The fees are the same as the first background check. Expect to pay about $38.25 for the background check and another $10.00 for the Child Maltreatment Central Registry check. You can find the directions on the Arkansas Department of Education page about renewal.

You must make an account, if you haven’t already, to renew your certification online. Paper renewals are no longer being accepted. The renewal application price is the same as the initial fee, $75.00, for the standard teacher certification. 

You can renew your license any time in the year it will expire, which is five years from when it was issued. You cannot start the renewal process before January first of the year it will expire. If you do not renew your license before the end of the year, December 31, you will have to apply for a provisional or temporary license.

Certification Reciprocity

A reciprocity agreement between states often means that certain states agree to share resources or accept certain conditions present in the other state as their own. It is similar when it comes to certifications. Teachers licensed or certified in one state will have the opportunity to work in another state. 

Arkansas does recognize teacher’s licenses from other states. This is part of the state’s department of education reciprocity agreement with other states. They are part of the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) Interstate Agreement for Educator Licensure. This doesn’t mean the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) will automatically accept the license and a teacher can start teaching in the state. 

The teacher must apply for consideration under the reciprocity agreement. Request a Reciprocity packet from the ADE through email: ade.educatorlicensure@arkansas.gov. Be sure to include your name and mailing address to receive the packet.

The ADE will look at the teacher’s current license and expect the teacher and their license to be in good standing. This will have to have been true for the last three years of teaching.

This will be done during the application process. Start this by doing the background check. Create an account to start the application process. This will require a non-refundable $75.00 fee. During the application process submit the Reciprocity packet. You may have to scan or digitize the Reciprocity packet to submit it online.

Notice in the image there is a box for Reciprocity. Check this box to indicate you would like to be considered as an applicant under the reciprocity agreement. There is a difference between Reciprocity and Reciprocity (out of country). Choose the one that is right for you.

Be prepared to include the following documents with your application:

  • Official Transcripts.
  • Copy of current or expired educator’s license in good standing for three years.
  • Content area testing, if applicable.
  • Documentation showing three years of licensed teaching experience.
  • National Board of Professional Teaching Standards certification, if needed.

Military Veterans and spouses of on duty military personnel who wish to teach in Arkansas can apply using the Reciprocity feature or agreement.

If you are interested in teaching in Arkansas and you are from another country the process is the same. Be certain to check the “Reciprocity (out of country)” box on the application. Visit the Arkansas Department of Education webpage regarding Reciprocity to make sure you know which documents to include in your application and to check what other requirements might be expected of you. 

Once your application for the standard license is approved, except for content testing and Arkansas history, the verification of provisional licensure eligibility form, or VOPLE will be mailed to you. When this is signed and returned you will be sent a Provisional License. A Provisional License is usually a non-renewable three-year Arkansas Teacher’s License.

ETS, Praxis testing and learning about Arkansas history may still be necessary to fulfill the Reciprocity requirements for licensure.

If you are interested in shaping young minds. If you are a patient person with the ability to introduce new and sometimes complex information in creative ways, if you like to use and teach new technology, you may want to consider being a librarian or a Library Media Specialist in Arkansas.