Kentucky Public Librarian Certification Guide - 2024

AKA: Paraprofessional Public Librarian Certification, Professional Public Librarian Certification

by Staff

Updated: December 12th, 2023

Licensor: KY DLA

In 1938, Kentucky passed its first public library certification legislation. KRS 171.250 requires public libraries only to employ librarians with the appropriate certification. Additionally, the legislators created the Kentucky State Board for the Certification of Librarians, consisting of five members appointed by the governor. The officers serve for four years.

Early on, the state’s leaders saw how important it was for the employees operating public libraries to meet certain educational standards. Additionally, the board felt certification would improve library service throughout the state and help librarians better serve the public. Over the years, the requirements have expanded to meet the industry’s growing diversity.

Library professionals complete yearly learning objectives to stay updated on technology and other subjects vital to their profession. Also, certification and continuing education requirements help board members make a more informed decision on selecting and retaining library personnel.

Public Librarian Certification Process in Kentucky

Certification for librarians in Kentucky depends on the level of education, experience, and position the person holds for the state. All employees must hold certification or temporary certification if they don’t meet all the qualifications. Paraprofessionals and professionals have five years to complete all requirements for public librarian certification. The law requires a minimum of $5 and a maximum of $20 fee.

An Overview of the Different Certification Levels

In 2021, the Kentucky State Board for the Certification of Librarians revised all educational requirements. The new certification levels and necessary education and experience include (download the certification manual from this webpage):

Paraprofessional I

The paraprofessional I requires a high school diploma or equivalent and 360 job-related educational contact hours. This entails 144 library science hours, 72 human resource hours, and 4,000 work hours in a library. Jobs available with a paraprofessional I certification include supervisory library staff, bookmobile, and branch management.

Paraprofessional II

The paraprofessional II requires a high school diploma or equivalent and 288 job-related educational contact hours. Additionally, you need at least 4,000 hours of library work experience. Individuals with a paraprofessional II certification are eligible for any full-time service position in a library.

Paraprofessional III

The paraprofessional III requires a high school diploma or equivalent and 144 job-related educational contact hours with 2,000 hours of work experience in a library. Similar to a paraprofessional II, this allows for most full-time positions in library services.

Professional I

The professional I certification requires a master’s degree in library science from an ALA-accredited university. Positions available with the professional I include library director for populations over 15,000.

Professional II

The professional II certification requirement is also a master’s degree in library science or a master’s degree with 15 graduate hours in library science. The position available with this certification includes library director for populations over 15,000.

Professional III

The professional III certification requires a bachelor’s degree with 21 graduate or undergraduate credit hours in library science. Additionally, requirements can be met with a master’s degree with 15 graduate or undergraduate credits or more in library science. Positions available with the professional I is also library director for populations over 15,000.

Professional IV

The professional IV is another certification that makes library director positions available. Another way to meet this requirement is with a bachelor’s degree with nine graduate or undergraduate hours in library science and six undergraduate college credit hours in a job-related field. However, a master’s degree in library science and three graduate or undergraduate college credit hours in library science with three graduate or undergraduate college credit hours in a job-related field can also earn you the certification.

How Do You Maintain Your Librarian Certification in Kentucky?

The requirements for maintaining a librarian certification in Kentucky have changed over the past few decades. In 1947, the state board held day-long examinations for library assistants without formal training. In 1949, lifetime certifications were issued after three years of satisfactory work performance. Exams were omitted from the certification process in 1972 in favor of continuing education.

Each level of certification has different requirements for achieving recertification. Professional level certificate holders need to complete 100 contact hours over a five-year period. A paraprofessional I needs to complete 75 contact hours in five years, and paraprofessionals levels II and III require 50 contact hours over a five-year timeframe.

What Types of Continuing Education Are Available for Librarians?

Several options are available for continuing education. From college-level courses and non-credit classes and training sessions to writing educational journal articles, the goal is to expand knowledge in all subject areas to help the public better.

Online College-Level Courses

Librarians can complete college-level courses. This step also allows paraprofessionals to move up to professional certification status to meet higher degree levels and gain more experience.

Online graduate programs in library science can be found here:

Online Classes

You don’t have to go to college to reach your continuing education goals. Most related coursework can be completed. For example, learning about new search techniques for databases to help students find necessary information for school projects could easily count, even if it’s a non-credit course. Many of these are self-paced, so you don’t have to worry about finding the time to complete them.

Examples of course topics include:

  • After Teen Services: Library Programming and Outreach for the New Adult
  • Beyond the Basics: Next Level Readers’ Advisory
  • Cataloging with RDA
  • Computers in Libraries 2021
  • Core Reference Skills
  • Authority Control: Creating and Maintaining Consistency
  • Doing Digital Preservation: Small Steps to Ensuring Access
  • Getting Started with Practical Cataloging

KYVL Training Sessions

The Kentucky Virtual Library offers hundreds of opportunities for learning through webinars, its YouTube Channel, and guided zoom sessions. The YouTube Channel has over a dozen videos ranging from 10 minutes to over an hour in length. Examples include:


The state offers several webinar types for free and a fee. Additionally, you can go through archives of previous web-based seminars to gain more knowledge in specific topics.

These are the basic requirements for earning and maintaining librarian certification in Kentucky. Keep in mind that the qualifications are changing as the position evolves. While you won’t need to go through a background check or drug screenings for the certification process, it may be required when applying for a position in a public library.