Iowa School Librarian Certification Guide - 2024

AKA: Iowa Teacher Librarian Certification

by Staff

Updated: December 12th, 2023

Stepping into the role of school librarian is stepping into many roles at once. You will pass along knowledge of technology, reading, and learning. You will lead students as they search for information, and you will show them how to use it responsibly. You will be expected to create a supportive and safe learning environment. Preparing effective lessons, managing media, and classroom materials while providing valuable feedback on student work. You will manage the library, support the curriculum and teach.

Iowa School Librarian Certification Guide

Certification is essential as a milestone. Achieving it is proof that your hard work has paid off. The time you spent in the classroom learning and in the library practicing, are now bearing fruit.

Iowa requires it. Certification says you have met the standards put in place to be a school librarian. The skills and knowledge you have mastered meet the prerequisites to practice professionally in your chosen field.

To become a school librarian in Iowa, you will need a teaching certification as well as an endorsement for elementary or secondary teacher librarianship.

You can find requirements for the endorsements here:

Certification ensures teachers and librarians are doing the job in a similar way and with the same basic knowledge. This gives administrators confidence that you can meet performance and curriculum goals. This also puts a librarian on equal footing with other staff members. Equal footing aids staff members in communicating and reaching student learning goals.

Educational Requirement

Librarians don’t just put books on shelves and keep track of who checked out what. Librarians must teach students to gather and use information. The teaching component of library science is so important that it is the cornerstone on which the certification is built. In Iowa you must have a teaching license in addition to a school teacher librarian endorsement (K-8 and/or 5-12) before becoming a school librarian. This means you must have done coursework that includes how to teach.

If you plan to be a school librarian in Iowa, for elementary students you must have a teaching license and bachelor’s degree for elementary media specialist, kindergarten to sixth grade. For grades seventh, through twelfth, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree for secondary school media specialist. Getting certified to work with all grades, kindergarten through twelfth, requires a master’s degree in library sciences or media specialist.

Find schools offering library and information science degree programs in Iowa.

The Initial or basic teacher certification can be renewed after two years. At this time, it can be converted to a Standard License. The Standard License is good for five years.

Your degree must be from a state-approved, regionally accredited institution that prepares teachers for their careers.

Finding a school for your degree isn’t easy. It’s usually best to look in the state you wish to teach. Institutions within a state are more likely to have programs that meet the expected requirements.

There are lots of tips for finding the right school. Look carefully at what you will learn. Become familiar with the American Library Association. Where you go could change how much you spend on your education. Keep these points in mind:

  • 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 list is a starting point to get you on your way to finding the best fit for you. Remember that what you learn, and practice will set the stage for your career. Go to the ALA website for more information.

Experience Requirements

Experience can help prepare you to transition successfully into the school library. Planning what you will teach and why is good practice for everyday life as a librarian. Volunteering in a library can give you hands-on experience. Observing what goes on during a typical day will allow you to easily jump into the role.

You will also need practical experience as part of your teacher preparation program. You can find requirements for the endorsements here:

Testing Requirements

Before you can get certified as a teacher in Iowa you must pass the Praxis II Library Media Content Test/Library Media Specialist (5311) with a score of 156. This test is administered by Educational Testing Services (ETS). The price is $120.00 for the test. There is a practice test available for $19.00.

Background Checks

Preparing students for critical thinking and lifelong learning are important tasks. You are expected to care for the well-being and education of the children you will lead in this process. Certain criminal convictions can prevent you from becoming a teacher in some states. Background checks allow officials to vet candidates based on their history.

In Iowa, the Board of Education Examiners or BOEE is responsible for teaching standards and certification. They will conduct your background check. This starts with the application process. You will order or agree to the background check when you apply.  – The application is entirely online. Request fingerprint cards as part of the application.

You can go to the BOEE office and have your fingerprints taken. You must make an appointment ahead of time by calling 515-281-3245. You may even save some money. A fingerprint card can be sent to you, as mentioned above. It is probably best to arrange this through your school or university if you are in Iowa.

The BOEE street address:

Iowa Board of Educational Examiners
701 E Court Ave. B
Des Moines, IA 50309

Take the fingerprint card you receive in the mail to a police station, sheriff’s office, or another facility where people are trained to “roll” or take your fingerprints. Have them fill out the associated paperwork. Return this packet to the Board of Education Examiner’s office.

The BOEE will check Iowa Courts Online, the Child Abuse Registry, the Sex Offender Registry, among other sources.

More information about who needs a background check and what they check can be found here, at the BOEE website.

Expect to pay $75.00 for the background check. This will probably be wrapped in with or added to the application fee. We’ll come to this next.

Application Process

As mentioned above the application is completed online. Before you start the application look through this helpful slide show. It’s hosted on Google Docs and tells you how to create an account and what to expect when filling out the application. At the bottom of this page, you’ll find a link to make an account. You can start here if you already have an account.  Once you verify whether you have held a previous license, it collects your personal information. Input your name, email and the last four digits of your social security number, etc.

After you have verified your email and your contact information the website asks for “…the professional area in which you are applying.” Though it doesn’t display the options, it is most likely teaching. Next, it asks to select the application. Note: cross-reference the slideshow with the information at the link for the best understanding of the application.

Continue to follow the steps outlined in the slideshow. The application fees will be listed.

There is a $40.00 processing or application fee. A $3.00 convenience fee, if you pay with a credit card, this is recommended. The background check fee of $75.00, as mentioned above, will show up here. Keep in mind that fees are non-refundable.

This is also the moment you can withdraw the application if you selected the wrong one.

The Checklist portion of the application asks if you have held an Iowa license before and asks about your criminal history for the background check.

Next is the Attachments portion of the application. Now is the time to upload all official transcripts. You will have to scan these in advance for easy upload. There are instructions available to help you through each step. It is also possible to send forms to schools where you may have done a practicum or from which you need verification.

After all the necessary documents are uploaded you can move on to reviewing the application. The software itself reviews your application to make sure every box has been checked and all documents uploaded if needed. If something is missing it will let you know. This is also the moment when verification forms will be generated and sent to the appropriate place. For example, if you need to verify employment or an internship the proper forms will be created and emailed to the right place.

The fees for the application process are totaled and must be paid before the application can be submitted.

After the fees have been paid you can check the status of your application. In an ideal world, you want it to say, “pending internal review.” It can take four to six weeks to evaluate your application.

If your verification documents must be added before your application can be reviewed it will say, “pending deliverables.” If the status is, “new”, it’s possible something was missed. Go back and review your application for something that did not properly upload or might have been overlooked.

Make sure all your transcripts and passing grades have been sent to the BOEE. Without these, your application may not be carefully reviewed.

You can pause your work on an application and come back to it. Keep in mind that every application is given a unique number to differentiate one from another. It would be best to find that number and write it down to find your application again more easily if needed.

School Teacher Librarian Endorsement

After attaining your teaching certification, you will also need to apply for your teacher librarian endorsement.

You can find requirements for the endorsements here:

Alternative Librarian Certification Process

According to the Iowa Department of Education website, the pathway to teaching requires being an intern. This pathway is geared toward putting teachers in high schools. To start on this path, you must apply to be an intern. Basic requirements can be found here.

Educational Requirements

A bachelor’s degree and some work experience are the very basic requirements. A bachelor’s degree in teaching is preferred.

You must study how to teach at an approved institution of higher learning. Also, fulfill 50 hours of fieldwork. It is at this time that you apply for the intern license and become the teacher of record in a classroom.

Partner with a university or other school to take you through more training and mentoring. At the end of the process, you will have gained real-world experience teaching students and a teaching license.

An explanation of what you can expect can be found here. Look for additional information at the Iowa Department of Education under, Alternative Licensure Teacher Intern Program. Check this page for a brief description of the Intern License.

Experience Requirements

Teachers are needed to share what they know. If your degree and work experience will translate well into the classroom you should consider sharing them. Your knowledge can be the start of a student’s interest in a similar field of study or a career.

To transition to teaching, it is necessary to have work experience that lasted three years in the same area as your bachelor’s degree.

Testing Requirements

Neither the Iowa Department of Education nor the Board of Educational Examiners has testing requirements for the internship.

You will be responsible for passing the following Praxis tests:

  • Praxis 5622 (grades K-6)
  • Praxis 5623 (grades 5-9)
  • Praxis 5624 (grades 7-12)

Depending on which grades you will be learning to teach.

Background Check

A background check helps you tell the state of Iowa, the Board of Education Examiners, that you are the right candidate for the job. A clear background check will show them they can trust you with the safety and wellbeing of their children.

A background check is part of the application process. You will have to submit your fingerprints on a fingerprint card. Request this card as part of the application process.

The online application will also ask for and collect your criminal history if you have one. They will use this information and compare it against what they find in the various databases they search (i.e., Iowa Courts Online, the Child Abuse Registry, and the Sex Offender Registry).

The fee for the background check is $75.00.

Application Process

The application can be completed online at the BOEE website. Start here to read a bit about it. You will need to have your transcripts and any verification material scanned and ready to upload. You can also have the BOEE contact employers, schools, and so on to get verification, information. Have these emails and contact information ready before you start the application. Keep in mind that fees are non-refundable.

After you have finished 50 hours of fieldwork you will apply for the Intern License. The BOEE provides a slideshow to guide you through the application.

Expect to pay $85.00 to apply and have your application reviewed by the Iowa Board of Education Examiners. Paying with a credit card adds $3.00. The background check fee will be assessed at the end of the application.

Certification Renewal

The Intern License cannot be renewed. If you have been successful in the Intern program you can convert your intern license into an Initial Teaching License. The Initial Teaching License can be renewed twice, through an extension. It then must be converted to a Standard Teaching License if all requirements are met. The Standard Teaching License is good for five years.

Follow the same procedure for renewing your Standard License as you would for applying for the Initial Teaching License. You will have to use the online application and select Renew when prompted.

You must renew your certification in the same year it will expire or less than one year before it expires.

The fee to renew your license is $85.00.

Certification Reciprocity

Iowa is a party to the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement. However, this does not allow an individual wishing to teach or work as a Teacher Librarian to submit their credentials and start working. The would-be teacher does have to send their qualifications to the Board of Education Examiners.

If the candidate has a bachelor’s degree and three or more years of verifiable teaching experience the BOEE may grant them a Regional Exchange Teaching License or an Initial Teaching License. The Regional Exchange Teaching License can only be used for two years. This is issued to applicants who require more training to bring their credentials in line with Iowa’s standards.

If an individual wishing to work as a teacher or librarian in Iowa has less than three years teaching experience, they have to do some testing. The Praxis II Pedagogy Test is required in this case. This candidate may be able to get the Initial Teaching License if they agree to do extra teacher training. They would then have to show they are eligible for the Standard Teaching License through testing.

If you can verify you have more than three years of teaching experience you may be able to receive the Master Educators License. Having a master’s degree helps.

Again, all the training and education mentioned above has to have been completed at a recognized or approved post-secondary school or similar.

Submitting the necessary credentials must be done through the application process. Apply for the certification that best aligns with your credentials and experience, Initial Teaching License, or Regional Exchange License. You can start the application here.

A fee of $85.00 covers the cost of the Initial Teacher License. Plus the background check fee of $75.00 and a convenience fee of $3.00.

Becoming an Iowa school librarian is a chance to lead the next generation of citizens into the future. You can shape their understanding of the world while supporting the curriculum intended to turn them into lifelong readers, thinkers, and learners.