Iowa Public Librarian Certification Guide - 2024

AKA: Iowa Librarian Endorsements

by Staff

Updated: December 12th, 2023

The State of Iowa is home to over 500 public libraries. There are thousands of people required to keep these facilities in operation year-round. The State does not have an official certification program to become an employee of the library. However, they have developed an endorsement program for their existing employees to help improve the quality of their library staff, provide recognition to public librarians, enhance the public image of libraries, and providing guidelines that public library boards can use in developing staff hiring policies.

If you live in the State of Iowa and have a passion for literature or enjoy helping others, a career as a public librarian may be right for you. In this guide, we will cover all the basics of how you can become an endorsed public librarian in the State of Iowa.

Endorsement Program for Iowa Public Librarians

The State Library of Iowa provides an endorsement program for its employees to further develop their skills and become recognized for their knowledge of library science. One thing to note is that the State Library of Iowa does not require employees to earn this endorsement prior to employment. You can apply for any job within the Public Library system without first obtaining an endorsement.

The endorsements come in three focus areas — Staff, Director, and Youth Services. The Staff endorsement covers all the basics that you need to know to be an endorsed librarian. The Director endorsement is for director-level positions such as leading the operations of a library branch. The Youth Services endorsement is an optional specialty for people who want to focus on working with children and youth.

Each of the endorsements is good for three years and can be renewed assuming you meet the continuing education requirements.

The Director Endorsement

A couple of things should be noted about the Director endorsement. First, the Director endorsement is the only one that the State Library of Iowa requires to be completed within two years of employment. The Staff endorsement remains optional for library employees throughout their tenure.

Also, there are 6 levels to the Director endorsement. The levels are determined by the education level and years of experience of the applicant. For example, the Level 3 Director endorsement requires a Bachelor’s degree while a Level 1 Director endorsement only requires a high school diploma (or equivalent) and completion of some online coursework.

Education Requirements

To be automatically eligible for an endorsement, you must have an ALA-accredited (American Library Association) Master’s degree in Library and Information Sciences or a Bachelor’s degree or Master’s degree in another subject that includes coursework in library science. Applicants that meet this requirement will not have to complete any further coursework. Find all Library and Information Sciences degree programs in Iowa.

However, you can still apply for an endorsement even if you don’t have an advanced degree. The Iowa Public Library offers online coursework that can be taken instead of formal education. The coursework aligns with the endorsement types — Staff, Director, and Youth Services.

Experience Requirements

The Iowa Public Library does not require any prior experience to apply for an endorsement. The only requirement is that you are currently an employee of the library. If you didn’t study library science (or equivalent), you can still get your foot in the door by starting with an entry-level position such as a library assistant.

IA Learns Coursework

If you don’t meet the education requirements, you can simply take the self-paced, online course available through the IA Learns (the education portal for the Institute of Museum and Library Services).

Applicants that are pursuing the Staff endorsement will be required to take four core courses including Library Foundations, Intro to Public Services, We’re All Tech Librarians, and Library Law.

Director endorsement applicants will need to take the four core courses plus four director-level courses — Policy Development, Collection Management, Budget & Finance, and HR & Volunteer Management.

Youth Services is a single course that can be added on to either the Staff or Director endorsement. In this course, you will be trained on working with various age groups and other technical skills that apply to working with children and youth. 

No matter which path you choose, you will also be required to participate in discussion sessions with other librarians throughout the duration of the course.

IA Learns Testing

There is a series of quizzes and tests that are a part of the IA Learns courses. The good news is that you can take these as many times as you like. However, you must get a perfect score to pass the course. Don’t worry, you can still go back and reference the coursework if you need to study more before retaking the test.

There is also a technology self-assessment that must be completed during the course.

Background Checks

The State of Iowa does not have specific requirements around background checks or drug screening. However, the State Library of Iowa website indicates that each location should follow any local city or municipal requirements for background checks. Check with your local library for more information.

Application Process

The application process is a simple, web-based form. You’ll need to provide your name, information about the library where you work (name, city, and district), email address, phone number, and your IA Learns username.

You can then select which endorsement you wish to apply for (Director or Staff). You have the option to add the Youth Services endorsement to either one of these applications.

Since endorsements are available only to current library employees, there are no fees associated with the endorsement, courses, or testing. 

Once your application is submitted the CE (continuing education) team will review the application and enroll you automatically in whichever course is appropriate for you in IA Learn.

Endorsement Renewals

Once three years have passed, you will need to renew your endorsement. The renewal process is similar to a new endorsement application. You have to fill out the same application form but check the renewal box instead.

The only requirement to renew your endorsements is that you get enough continuing education (CE) credits. Director endorsements require 45 hours of continuing education every three years. The Staff endorsement requires 30 hours of continuing education every three years.