Maine Public Librarian Certification Guide - 2022
AKA: Voluntary Public Librarian Certification, Intermediate Public Librarian Certification, Advanced Public Librarian Certification
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Public libraries are one of Maine’s most treasured assets, as are the librarians that make them so special. However, over the last several years, the role of both public libraries and librarians has evolved to keep up with the needs and services that communities require.
Librarians often act as book advisors, technology experts, information detectives, and even children’s storytellers, among other roles. Even this list is likely to have changed (and potentially expanded) five years from now.
Public Librarian certification is required in many states—though not all—to help keep up with these evolving needs. It’s a way for librarians to prove that they have the experience required for the job—and a way for libraries to ensure that their library staff are qualified to meet the needs of the public. It also helps to standardize the role of a librarian across the state and gives librarians themselves more career stability and higher salaries due to the gatekeeping effect of certification.
The state of Maine offers a three-level voluntary certification program called the Voluntary Public Librarian Certification Program. The program begins with Basic Certification, which is what the state recommends for anyone who is entering the library field without prior experience. The basic level coursework, which consists of online courses and webinars, focuses on the following areas:
The next two levels, Intermediate and Advanced Certifications, focus on the same topic areas but provide more depth to help librarians build on their existing knowledge and skills. Certifications are renewed on an annual level, with librarians required to complete five classes, webinars, or workshops at their current level to maintain their certification status annually.
A tracking sheet is available on the right side of this page to help participants log their progress throughout the courses and certification levels.
Notably, library staff can also register to take the courses that comprise this certification without focusing on earning the certification itself. The courses are designed as a continuing education opportunity, and can be taken at random.
The program is free to participate in, although two of the learning platforms that offer specific classes do have costs associated (Skillsoft and Percipio).
Find this information and a general overview of the program here.
Because of the structure of Maine’s Librarian Certification process, no prior experience or education is necessary. The Basic Certification coursework will start at the beginning, assuming the participant has no prior knowledge, so there’s no requirement for prerequisites.
However, some degree programs will translate to automatic certifications in the state of Maine. Librarians who possess a Master of Library and Information Science (MLS) degree from any university will automatically receive an Advanced Level Certification. You can also search Library and Media Science degree programs in Maine.
For those who attend the library program at the University of Maine, Augusta, a UMA Certificate will transfer as Basic Certification, an Associates’ Degree will transfer as Intermediate Certification (after 8 electives from the MSL program have been completed), and a Bachelor’s Degree will transfer as Advanced Certification (after 16 electives from the MSL program have been completed).
To maintain these certifications over time, graduates of these programs will be held to the same standard of completing five classes, webinars, or workshops on an annual basis.
In summary, if you don’t have experience or education in the library and media science field and want a certification, you can begin with the certification right away. There’s no benefit to starting with outside education or experience before taking the certification courses. However, if you do have library education, you may be able to bypass one or all of the levels of coursework required for certification.
Find this information and other FAQs about the program here.
Each course in the certification programs will require a short test to be marked as complete. The state’s library website does not specify what score is needed to pass the test(s), which may indicate that each course has its own passing requirements depending on the platform it’s based on. The state of Maine offers courses through a variety of platforms, including the Library Skills Academy, WebJunction, and Skillsoft.
When the course tests are completed and passed, participants will be prompted to download a certification that they’ll submit as proof of completion. The form for submitting a completed course request is located here.
The same online form is also used to track the five annual “upkeep” courses or workshops to maintain a certification level.
Because Maine’s certification is voluntary, background checks are not required as part of the certification process. Background checks may be required by the libraries as part of the librarian’s hiring process, but the certification itself does not require any background checks.
To apply to join the Voluntary Public Librarian Certification Program, register at this link. You’ll need to enter your name, email, library name, and the certification level you desire. The level will be “Basic” unless you have the education experience detailed above or you’ve already completed the Basic Certification.
If you’re just taking courses for continued education purposes and don’t intend to receive a certification, register at the same link but leave the certification level field blank.
There is no fee to apply for the Voluntary Public Librarian Certification Program. Once you’ve registered, you’ll be prompted to create your account with Niche Academy. Other courses in the program may require accounts with other platforms. It’s up to participants to keep this login information organized to access each course’s information.
When you begin registration for the Basic Certification, you’ll have two years to complete the requirements. For Intermediate and Advanced Certifications, you’ll have one year each to complete the requirements.
The state of Maine maintains a database that tracks course completions and certification levels. Formal certificates are issued on a quarterly basis for those who have earned a new certification level.