Illinois School Librarian Certification Guide - 2022

AKA: Library Information Specialist, Alternative Library Information Specialist Licensure

Last Reviewed: August 23rd, 2022

Licensor: ISBE

A school librarian certificate may seem complicated at first glance as it requires preparation and planning. The process is similar to that of a teacher, and that’s because you will spend similar amounts of time with students, as a teacher would. Your interactions such as showing students how to find required resources and helping them achieve their dreams, is what makes you a professional educator and an important part of a student’s life.

Initial Librarian Certification Process

The process to obtain an initial librarian certification process may be confusing at first glance, but as long as you stick to completing the items one-by-one, you’ll be fine. The best process to begin your path in this career is to find a program at an institution of higher education that can help you with the coursework necessary to complete the training you will need. Illinois has institutions that provide this training; you can find Illinois Library and Media Specialist programs here.

In order to be a library information specialist and provide services to students, you have to hold a professional educator license (PEL) for the grade levels you wish to serve and complete all the below requirements. The most difficult portion is to obtain the PEL and doing the required coursework. Here is a quick overview of the requirements:

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree or higher from a regionally accredited institution of higher education
  • Receive your Professional Educator License (PEL) and completing Form 80-02 or having an out-of-state license already
  • Student teaching or equivalent experience and complete the edTPA
  • Completion of coursework addressing methods of teaching exceptional children, reading methods, content area reading, and methods of teaching English learners (18 semester hours completed) and the endorsement from the institution that you are completing this coursework at
  • ILTS Licensure Test 

Educational Requirements

The educational requirements for the library information specialist field of work is straightforward and similar to any other teacher position. You will have to complete and obtain a bachelor’s degree and complete the required 18 semester hours of coursework for the library information specialist program. It is important that you look for an institution that can provide these courses together with some student teaching or equivalent experience.

Any coursework you complete has to be at a 100 level or higher, have a passing grade of a C- or better, and should be recorded on an official transcript that you will submit through the Educator Licensure Information System (ELIS). The state of Illinois may consider certain coursework in other subject areas if any of the below subject matters are covered.

Here are the types of acceptable coursework for a librarian specialist: Cataloging, classification, developing software, electronic card catalogs, instructional media, library administration, media services and production, on-line reference resources, on-line searching, production/management of information, production/management of learning technology systems, professional and ethical issues, reference, research and accessing information resources, selection of library materials appropriate to the population to be served, storytelling, and use and management of learning technology systems.

Experience Requirements

It is important that you work towards a bachelor’s degree if you have not done so yet and to do so with a program and institution that will offer you the student teaching experience. It is highly preferable that you aim to do so in a higher education institution within Illinois. Without any student teaching experience, you will find it difficult to find a job within this field. Not only this, but having the ability to tutor or work with a school district within library information specialist will help you gain an upper hand in getting a job within this field. See options to get involved as early as possible while you are doing your studies.

It is highly suggested that you also work towards earning a master’s degree or additional educational experience as time permits.

Testing Requirements

You will have to complete two tests as part of the application process. The first is the edTPA and the second is the ILTS test for a library information specialist.

  • Evidence-Based Assessment of Teacher Effectiveness (edTPA)

    The edTPA is an evidence-based assessment of teacher effectiveness and is completed through the Illinois Certification Testing System (ICTS). In order to complete this assessment, you will need a passing score of 39. Scores are valid indefinitely and has to be posted in ELIS upon completion. It is important to understand that to do the assessment, you need your Illinois Educator ID Number (IEIN), so if you did not set up your ELIS account yet, you will have to do so before proceeding with the edTPA.

    You want to make sure you enroll in the student teaching preparation program during this same time through your institution. If you completed this test out of state, you can or have it sent to a school district within the state of Illinois. Some states may not require a cut off score of 39, so if you did get a lower score than this, you would have to take it again to meet the cut off score of 39 for the state of Illinois. 

    If you did not complete an edTPA, you have to provide evidence in your application on ELIS of having done at least one year of full-time teaching experience and achieved a “proficient” or higher rating on your most recent performance evaluation. In this case, a Form 80-01: Out-of-State application Request to Waive edTPA form is required. 

  • Illinois Licensure Testing System (ILTS)

    The ILTS test is an essential portion of the professional education license and you will need to complete the new Library Media Content Test/Library Information Specialist (220) with a minimum passing score of 240. The range of the test results can vary from between 100 (lowest) to 300 (perfect score). You will be required to take the test within one year from registration and fee payment. 

    If you completed your test outside the state of Illinois, you will need to fill out and submit the Form 80-03A as part of your application in ELIS.

Background Checks

In order to receive a professional educational license and be a library information specialist, you have to pass a fingerprint-based criminal history records information (CHRI) check, or in other words, a background check. This background check has to verify that you did not violate Section 21B-80 of the Illinois School Code which would make you ineligible.

In most cases the school district will provide the fee payment for your background check. If not, they should provide you a list with information on where to go for approved vendors to perform the background check. 

Application Process and Fees

The first step of the process is to create an account on the Educator Licensure Information System (ELIS). It is the electronic system that the state of Illinois uses to store the information you provide to them. You will receive a six-digit Illinois Educator ID Number (IEIN) and this number will be used to record the tests you will be required to take. To create an ELIS account, go here. Instructions for how to create an account is in this link.

A Professional Educator License (PEL) can be completed for Pre-K, K-5, 6-8, 9-12, or All Grades. If you received your certificate from another state, you may upload this as evidence for completing your PEL in ELIS together with your official transcripts. If you did not get an out of state certificate, you will have to complete and upload to ELIS Form 80-02 as part of your application process. 

Below are some of the fees that you will need to pay as you are working through the certification process. This is not an exhaustive list and fees may change over time.

  • edTPA fee: $300 (Fee for transfer of edTPA results from another state: $50)
  • ILTS fee: $122
  • Background check (if required to use an approved vendor): $18
  • ELIS License registration fee: $10 per year

You may also incur fees associated with sending in official transcripts of your higher education coursework and degree completion. Official transcripts can be sent by email or regular email: 

Email: transcripts@isbe.net 

Regular Mail Address:

Illinois State Board of Education

Educator Licensure

100 N. 1st Street

Springfield, IL 62777

Additional Resources

Alternative Librarian Certification Process

Illinois has an alternative route to receiving your librarian certification and professional education license (PEL). This route will require you to complete a two-year program that usually begins in the summer term and then two years of teaching(residency) in your own classroom while completing the other necessary requirements.

Educational Requirements

Just as above, you will need to hold a bachelor’s degree or higher before being admitted into the alternative licensure program and pass the “Test of Academic Proficiency” (or ACT or SAT scores) and other applicable content tests.

There are currently four institutions of higher education in the state of Illinois that provides the alternative licensure program for library information specialists. These are: University of Illinois, Chicago State University, Dominican University, and Northern Illinois University.

Experience Requirements

As you will get the necessary experience through the alternative program, it will not be as important to have additional experience in the field of library information sciences. Though, any shadowing in a library, working in a University library, or other experience would be helpful to have as you are going through this certification process.

Testing Requirements

As listed above, you will have to complete the edTPA and ILTS tests and also pay for any required fees as part of the alternative teaching program. 

To begin your first year of residency following the first two years of the program, you have to apply for the PEL with stipulations and be endorsed as a provisional alternative educator. Prior to starting your second year of residency, you will have to complete the edTPA and APT tests and be recommended by your program for continuation.

Background Checks

In order to receive a professional educational license and be a library information specialist, you have to pass a fingerprint-based criminal history records information (CHRI) check or in other words a background check. This background check has to verify that you did not violate Section 21B-80 of the Illinois School Code which would make you ineligible.

In most cases the school district will provide the fee payment for your background check. If not, they should provide you a list with information on where to go for approved vendors to perform the background check.

Application Process and Fees

The first step in the process would be for you to apply and be admitted into an alternative licensure program. As you complete the coursework, you may wish to set up your ELIS account. It is the electronic system that the state of Illinois uses to store the information you provide to them. You will receive a six-digit Illinois Educator ID Number (IEIN) and this number will be used to record the tests you will be required to take. To create an ELIS account, go here. Instructions for how to create an account is in this link.

Below are some of the fees that you will need to pay as you are working through the certification process. This is not an exhaustive list and fees may change over time.

  • edTPA fee: $300 (Fee for transfer of edTPA results from another state: $50)
  • ILTS fee: $122
  • Background check (if required to use an approved vendor): $18
  • ELIS License registration fee: $10 per year

You may also incur fees associated with sending in official transcripts of your higher education coursework and degree completion. Official transcripts can be sent by email or regular email: 

Email: transcripts@isbe.net 

Regular Mail Address:

Illinois State Board of Education

Educator Licensure

100 N. 1st Street

Springfield, IL 62777

Certification Renewal Procedure

Once you have received a PEL, it is valid for five years and is renewable as long as you have met all the professional development requirements. 

If you fail to renew your license on time, you have two options available. These are:

  1. Complete 9 SH of coursework in one or more areas listed on your license
  2. Pay a $500 fee penalty

Certification Reciprocity Process

If you hold a valid, comparable out-of-state license, Illinois will need that license and your official transcripts showing a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited institution of higher education uploaded into the ELIS system.

Illinois also has a full reciprocity for all endorsements provided on a valid and comparable out-of-state license. If you wish to add any additional endorsements to your PEL via reciprocity, you can do so. It will require to you apply for the endorsement in your ELIS account together with the comparable out-of-state license (if you have not done so yet). More information here.