Kansas School Librarian Certification Guide - 2022

AKA: Initial School Specialist License, Provisional School Specialist License

Last Reviewed: August 23rd, 2022

You are probably excited to start your career as a Kansas School Librarian. You will plan classes for students. You will think of creative ways to engage students with technology. You will manage collections of books and media material. You will collaborate with other teaching professionals and staff to support and enforce the current curriculum.

Before you can start on this adventure you must be certified. That is the basis of this article. We will answer questions such as, what is certification, what are the requirements, and what is the process to become certified?

What is Certification?

Certifying professionals is a method of measuring them. Like a yardstick used by states, in this case, Kansas, to measure the preparedness of its teachers, librarians, and other staff members. It puts individuals with the same credentials on roughly the same footing. This ensures the same starting point for certified individuals.

Certification is the culmination of years of hard work. Every class, every hour of study, and practicum work leads to this. Your certification proves that you have what it takes to be a teacher or librarian. You have met the required standards. This sets you apart from others. It also prevents over-saturation of the job market and undo competition by setting the bar for entry high.

Successful certification shows you meet these requirements, you are worthy of working in Kansas schools. It’s like an award of excellence that marks your passage from a student of the craft to a new practitioner.

Initial School Librarian Certification

There are two certification paths to become a school librarian in Kansas. One is the “Initial School Specialist License” The other is the “Provisional School Specialist License”.

The Initial School Specialist License will have to be renewed in two years. – Expect to pay $60.00 for this. If you have been in a one-year mentoring program, you will have to submit a professional development plan regarding the mentoring ahead of time, you will use form 21. Click the highlighted text to find out more about it. In time you may upgrade your Initial License to a professional license. Use the online application for this.

If you already have a professional license, you will use form 3a. The link will take you to an informative graphic that will show how each license is upgraded and how to start the process. At the bottom of the page is the actual form.

The Provisional School Specialist License lasts for two years. This is an endorsement rather than a license. It allows you to teach in an area for which you are not fully qualified. This endorsement is given if you have not passed the necessary content test and have other requirements to meet. Go here for more information.

Go here to find more information about endorsements.

Expect a performance assessment during the two-year duration of the certification.

Though you can apply for a renewal of this endorsement it won’t be granted if all that remains to satisfy the requirements is passing the content test. Expect to pay $60.00 for this renewal unless you renew it with your license. If you renew both at the same time you pay one price.

For more details about this go to the Kansas State University webpage Licensing and Endorsement Assistance. Look for Provisional License Endorsement. There is a lot of helpful information here.

Educational Requirements

In Kansas you have to meet the following criteria to be a school librarian: you must have a teacher’s license and a master’s degree.

The base license or the starting point is teaching or a teacher’s license. You can obtain this then go on to specialize in library and media science. Fort Hays University, in Hays Kansas, describes the paths available for becoming a school librarian and meeting the certification requirements. It is a handy reference.

When it comes to searching for a school at which to study or get your degree you may have plenty of choices. It’s best to find a school in the state you would like to practice or in which you would like to be a librarian. Those schools are most likely to have programs that meet the requirements expected by the state. That said, many states expect school librarians to have a teacher’s license or certificate first. School librarians are expected to teach as well as organize, categorize, and classify reading and media material. Here is a starting point when looking for your school:

  • 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 only scratches the surface of how to find a school to start your learning and reach your potential as a school librarian. Here you will find Library and Information Sciences degree programs in Kansas.

Experience Requirements

All the experiences we have in life inform us and prepare us to meet and overcome future challenges. The same is true for our professional life or career. Any experience you can gain in being a librarian before you do it full time is helpful.

Working with new learners and introducing them to new ideas and technology takes patience. Observing how they learn and engaging their minds is best done in person. Understanding your role in supporting the curriculum and developing lesson plans with other school staff also is unique to each school.

Having had been involved in this way will help you convince a prospective employer you understand what the job entails and how to do it.

You can volunteer as a librarian. You can observe librarians at work or interview them about learning more.

There are no experience requirements for school librarians in Kansas.

Testing Requirements

To meet the testing requirements in Kansas you must pass the Praxis II Library Media Specialist Test (5311) with a minimum score of 153. The Praxis tests are administered by Educational Testing Services or ETS (ETS.org). The fee for the test $120.00. You can buy a practice test for $19.00. The practice test is a lot like the actual test. Using it will help you understand how the test is administered and delivered.

Background Checks

Background checks put our minds at ease about those with whom we work. Completing a background check will ease the minds of the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE). It will also make those you work with, teachers, staff members, and parents comfortable about you in the school. Parents don’t want criminals teaching their children.

The background check is the first step in the application process when being certified in Kansas. To get a fingerprint card you can go to the KSDE website and order one. At the time this article was written you can go to the fingerprint portion of the website and fill out a form at the bottom of the page to order a card.

Fill out the card. Don’t skip any lines or boxes. Fingerprint cards without all your contact and identifying information will be rejected. Don’t sign it yet.

Take the card to a local police office, sheriff’s office, or another facility where someone is trained to “roll” or take your fingerprints. You might want to call ahead to make an appointment. Some places may charge for this service. Bring an ID with you. After your prints are on the card, sign the card in front of the person taking your prints. Also, have the police officer, or other trained person, put your completed card in the envelope, along with the payment, and seal the envelope.

When submitting your fingerprint card enclose a $50.00 check or money order made out to KSDE. A packet received without payment will not be processed. You cannot combine the application fee and the background check fee. They must be separate payments. Put enough postage on the envelope to get it where it needs to go.

Mail the fingerprint card packet to:

Teacher Education and Licensure, KSDE

900 SW Jackson Street, Suite 106

Topeka, KS 66612-1212

You have six months within which to submit your full application packet if this is your first time getting a background check. If you have questions that are not answered here or need more information about fingerprint cards and the background check go to this FAQ.

The school through which you are receiving your degree may help you with this.

Application Process

After you submit your fingerprint card you can apply for your credentials.

The application process appears to be straightforward. There is an information page to visit before starting the online application. On this page, they wisely recommend you know the license requirements before applying. Scroll down to the bottom for forms and requirements. Review these to ensure you are applying for the correct certification. This graphic may also help clarify matters.

Now that you are sure which license you need, you should read through the application instructions. The highlighted text will take you to the “General Instructions Online Application Forms for Applicants.” The first few steps remind you to check the requirements for the license you want. We will assume that has been done.

These are general instructions. They tell you to create an account with a username and so on. Read them to get a general idea of how to navigate the online application. When you are ready go to the online application and make an account.

Be prepared before you start the application. Have your official transcripts scanned and ready to upload as electronic files. The Teacher Licensure and Accreditation (TLA) will evaluate these against the requirements for the certification for which you are applying.

See this link as an example of what you might expect. Understand this is a paper application, only for reference. Its intended use is for an out-of-state applicant. Again, use it only for reference as to what you will be expected to include in the application.

The application fee is $60.00 for an initial license and for endorsements. See this easy-to-read fee schedule for more information. Keep in mind that the background check fee and the application fee are separate.

Alternative Librarian Certification Process

The alternative track to teacher certification in Kansas is through the Restricted Teaching License Alternative Pathway. It is valid for the school year for which it is issued. It aims to recruit professionals with degrees who want to teach in their area of expertise.

Educational Requirements

To qualify you must have a bachelor’s or master’s degree from a regionally accredited school. The degree or coursework must be in the area you expect to teach. You are more likely to find a teaching position if the content area is one in which teachers are lacking or needed.

You can find a step-by-step guide to obtaining the Restricted License here. It spells out the requirements and has helpful links. Find more details and hints for applying here.

A list of approved places to prepare for teaching and certification can be found here.

Experience Requirements

As already mentioned, our experiences prepare us for the future. It’s the same for teaching or working in any career. The more we practice a skill the better we get at it and the easier it is to do. This shows in our performance of that skill or task.

This becomes an advantage when seeking employment in the skill we have practiced. We can sincerely convince an employer that we know what we’re doing. Our in-depth knowledge of the craft we mastered comes across.

Practicing teaching, making lesson plans, and engaging young minds are all necessary as a librarian. Having introduced complex technology, explained how to use reference materials and access library resources will make it easier too as a full-time school librarian.

The state of Kansas expects a candidate to complete a “supervised training experience.” This is essentially a practicum or field experience in a school. The school of higher education from which you will be receiving your teaching training must supervise the fieldwork.

Testing Requirements

To receive the certification for the Restricted License you must pass the Praxis II content test for the content area in which you will teach. In this case, it will be the Praxis II Library Media Specialist Test (5311) with a minimum score of 153.

There may be other Praxis tests that are required if you are going into teaching from another career field. Talk to your mentor or call the Restricted Licensure Consultant at 785-296-2280 for advice or more information.

ETS, who administers the test charges $120.00. A practice test is also available for $19.00.

Background Check

Every individual applying for certification in Kansas, and most other states, must undergo a background check. This ensures the people we are working with have been vetted. Their criminal records have been searched for issues or events that would make them a danger to their coworkers or the children they teach.

The background check is the first step in the application process. Once you have sent the necessary documents for it you can start the rest of the process.

Use this link to find fingerprint information and order a fingerprint card. Go to the bottom of the webpage. Fill out the form there to order the fingerprint card. Don’t forget your mailing address.

Note the directions for getting fingerprinted and filling out the card. If any information is missing the card will be rejected and you will have to start again.

The fingerprint and background check fee is $50.00. It has to be paid by check or money order made out to KSDE. This cannot be combined with the application fee.

Application Process

Completing the application requires the cooperation of the individual seeking the license, the school district hiring that person, and the institution of higher learning providing the educational component. This is necessary because there are sections of the application that must be completed by each of these entities.

When applying for the license start here. Read the instructions and check the requirements at the bottom of the page.

Stop here for general instructions about the application. After this page began to prepare for the application itself. Make sure you have all the documents you need before you start filling out boxes. Do you have electronic copies of official transcripts? Do you have contact information from previous schools and the current school you are working with? Do you have names, addresses, and phone numbers of employers, if necessary? Know what parts of the application will require information from whom.

Contact someone at the Kansas Teacher Licensure & Accreditation or the post-secondary school with whom you are working if you have questions.

When you are ready to start the online application go to the Kansas Licensure Application System.

The application fee is $60.00.

Certification Renewal

The Restricted License is good only for the year it is issued. It can be reissued for additional school years; these must be consecutive. It will only be reissued if the progress reports indicate that the candidate is improving sufficiently.

The individual possessing a Restricted License must apply each year they need to have their Restricted License reissued. They do not need to resubmit the fingerprint card.

The application fee is $65.00.

Renew the Initial School Specialist License as if you were applying for the license for the first time. Use the online application. Go here for renewal information. Notice there are requirements to fulfill. You may have to pass content tests or have completed eight semester hours of recent credits for your license endorsement. Read through the list and be ready to show you have met the requirements.

The fee is $60.00.

The same is true for the Provisional School Specialist License. Visit the same webpage to view the requirements and prepare for the application. Use the online form to apply.

The fee is $60.00.

Certification Reciprocity

Teaching and school librarian candidates wishing to come from another state and work in Kansas must go through the out-of-state qualification and certification process. Applying for teaching credentials when coming from another state is like the process for an in-state individual. There is a paper application, however.

Kansas has signed and recognizes the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) agreement. This compact allows certified teachers in one state to earn certification in another state. This does not mean Kansas will automatically give you a certification. You have to meet certain requirements.

Start the certification process by requesting a fingerprint card. This is for the background check. Go to the bottom of the webpage. Fill out the form there to order the fingerprint card. Don’t forget your mailing address.

Note the directions for getting fingerprinted and filling out the card. If any information is missing the card will be rejected and you will have to start again.

The fingerprint and background check fee is $50.00. It has to be paid by check or money order made out to KSDE. This cannot be combined with the application fee.

After the background check has begun you have six months to complete the certification application.

If you have a teacher certification and at least one year of teaching experience you will apply for an Initial License.

You can apply for a professional license if you have at least three years of teaching experience. This page has the full breakdown of information.

Go to the KSDE webpage listing information about the out-of-state application. Here there is information about all the documents needed to support your application. A detailed graph of the requirements can be found here. It’s a PDF You can download for easy reference.

The paper application is available here. Download the application to help you prepare to complete it. Make sure you have the official transcripts.

Once the application packet is complete, mail it to:

Teacher Licensure and Accreditation

Kansas State Department of Education

Landon State Office Building

900 S.W. Jackson Street, Suite 106

Topeka, KS 66612-121

The Out-of-State application fee is $70.00.

You are now ready to take the first steps toward assuming the mantel of Kansas school librarian. It is a big responsibility. You will be teaching students about reading and finding information. They will learn about reference material and media. It is necessary to show young learners how to use this information responsibly. You will show them how to stay organized using technology. With your interest in media, new technology, and information you will lead Kansas students into the future. Prepare them to be readers and life-long learners, maybe even the leaders of tomorrow.