California School Librarian Certification Guide - 2024

AKA: Teacher Librarian Services Credential, Emergency Teacher Librarian Services Permit

by Staff

Updated: December 12th, 2023

Licensor: CCTC

School librarians need certification because their work involves student teaching, collaboration, and collection management. Certification recognizes that an individual has taken the appropriate library science coursework, passed several tests, and met competency requirements.

Librarians need certification to understand student learning and achievement across different grade levels. They ensure that students can research and access information from books and digital resources. Librarians develop literacy programs that cultivate a culture of reading and introduce students to authors and their books.

Another aspect of a librarian’s role includes collaborating with educators and community members. Librarians work with teachers to plan, teach, and assess inquiry-based projects by integrating information literacy skills and technology into the curriculum.  In addition, librarians help with instructional research, book recommendations, community outreach, and information access.

An integral part of the librarian’s duties is managing the library’s collection, cataloging, ILS systems, databases, purchasing materials, and design programming.   Certification prepares librarians to meet the many demands of the position.

Initial School Librarian Steps

The Teacher Librarian Services Credential in the State of California is for individuals who: will teach students how to access, evaluate, and integrate information and resources through a school library program; collaborate with teachers; access resources for school use; develop staff training about library programming, and develop procedures for managing a school library.

Education Requirements

Individuals must complete all the following requirements:

  1. A bachelor’s degree or higher from a regionally-accredited college or university 
  2. Hold a valid prerequisite California teaching credential as follows:
    • a credential that required completion of a professional teacher preparation program, including student teaching, or
    • a clear full-time designated subjects teaching credential.
  3. Complete one of the following:
    • A Commission-approved Teacher Librarian Services Credential program.
    • A professional preparation program in teacher librarian services including successful completion of a supervised field work, or the equivalent, in a program taken outside California of at least 30 graduate semester units, that is comparable to a program accredited by the Committee on Accreditation. Official transcripts must be submitted, along with a photocopy of the out-of-state credential or a letter from the issuing state’s licensing agency verifying eligibility for the credential.
  4. Possession of an English learner authorization issued by the Commission (excludes English learner authorizations on teaching permits).

Experience Requirements

Most school librarian certification candidates participate in practical field experiences as part of their educational requirements. They are placed in diverse school library media centers, linking theory and practice to reinforce the role of teacher librarians who facilitate access to information in a global, digital age and are strong advocates for equity, literacy and social justice in democratic societies.

Testing Requirements and Best Methods to Pass

Meet the Basic Skills Requirement 

Individuals may use one of the following methods to meet the basic skills requirement:

  1. Pass the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST) once. Go to the CBEST website for more information.
  2. Pass the California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET):  Multiple Subjects Plus Writing Skills Examination.
  3. Pass the California State University (CSU) Early Assessment Program (English and Mathematics sections) or the CSU Placement Examinations (English Placement Test [EPT] and Entry Level Mathematics [ELM]).
  4. Achieve Qualifying Score on the SAT or ACT. 
  5. Achieve a Qualifying Score on the College Board Advanced Placement (AP) Examinations.
  6. Pass a Basic Skills Examination from Another State.

For more information, visit:   SCCTC PDF

Background Check and Where to Get it Done

Fingerprint Information is submitted as part of the first application for a credential, certificate, or permit.  California residents must complete the electronic Live Scan process and do not have the option of submitting fingerprint cards. 

Form 41-LS – Request for Live Scan Service: Download Here

Individuals applying for their first credential who reside outside California must submit with their application packet two fingerprint cards (FD-258). Educators residing outside California may order fingerprint cards from the Commission by sending an email that includes their physical mailing address to In the subject line of the email, write “Fingerprint Cards”.

Fingerprint Fees:

  • DOJ & FBI Processing Fee:  $49.00 
  • Live Scan service provider charges: Variable

How to Submit Your Application

The following are instructions for how to send your application to the California Commission on Teacher.

School Librarian Certification Fees

Application Fees:

  • Initial or Renewal/Re-issuance: $100.00
  • Certificate of Clearance: $50.00

Additional Certification Questions Contact:

Alternative School Librarian Certification Steps

The Emergency Teacher Librarian Services Permit is at the request of an employer. The purpose of the Emergency Teacher Librarian Services Permit is to allow qualified individuals to be employed while completing requirements for the related certification and show progress toward that goal with each renewal. Permits are valid for one year but may not exceed the expiration date of the prerequisite credential. 

The Emergency Teacher Librarian Services Permit in the State of California is for individuals who: will teach students how to access, evaluate, and integrate information and resources through a school library program; collaborate with teachers; access resources for school use; develop staff training about library programming, and develop procedures for managing a school library.

The employing agency must have an annual Declaration of Need for Fully Qualified Educators (CL-500) on file with the California Commission on teaching in order to qualify to provide emergency certification to school librarians.

Education Requirements

You must possess a bachelor degree or higher from a regionally accredited college or university.

Possess a Prerequisite Credential

You must hold one of the following before applying for the emergency school librarian credential:

  • A valid California teaching credential and satisfy the standard requirements for the pathway toward teacher certification.
  • Verify you are in possession of a valid out-of-state school librarian certification.

Testing Requirements

You will need to satisfy the basic skill requirement examination. Instructions for completion of this requirement can be found on the following Commission leaflet: CL-667

Express Intent to Complete Standard Requirements

Provide written intent to complete requirements for renewal during the valid period of the permit (typically 1 year).

Submit Your Application

Complete form 41-4: found here. And submit the required application processing fee: found here.

Renewing a School Librarian Credential

Certified educators are responsible for renewing on time and for completing requirements for renewal every five years. As a courtesy, the Commission will send an email reminder 90 days prior to the expiration of a document that is renewable online.  A document may be renewed up to one year in advance of its expiration date if all renewal requirements have been met. 

Stay up-to-date by logging into the Commission’s website. Renewal instructions should be available to you under your account.