Maryland School Librarian Certification Guide - 2024

AKA: School Library Media Specialist

by Staff

Updated: May 7th, 2024

The school library is frequently the hub of student learning, particularly in schools that emphasize 21st-century, student-centered, hands-on learning. At all levels, the school library media specialist works with all teachers and off-site resources to support students through independent inquiry, guided understanding, and literary appreciation.

School library media specialists are concerned with student achievement and should be present in every school and grade level. On top of their teaching expertise, professional or certified school library media specialists get specifically trained to work with students and have substantial librarian-related knowledge, such as research, information literacy, book suggestions, and technology.

They collaborate with students and other educators to ensure that everyone has access to material in various media and that reading gets incorporated into all subjects.

Many first-time applicants into various careers are required to complete a certification or licensure process. The rationale for a state needing certification is that the individual pursuing certification will gain a foundation of knowledge and skills that are regarded as necessary for individuals to be effective and competent in their area of expertise.

Initial Librarian Certification Process:

“Library Media Specialist” refers to someone who has gained knowledge, understanding, and proficiency in a wide range of library media services, with a focus on those skills related to the creation and management of a comprehensive school library media program.

Education and Experience Requirements

Individuals seeking accreditation as a School Library Media Specialist must finish an ALA/CAEP certified program in that field, according to the Maryland Department of Education.

There are two options in terms of education requirements.

Option 1

The first option requires a master’s degree in library and information science from a Maryland-approved program that leads to accreditation as a librarian or library media specialist.

Field experiences, practical training, a theoretical and research-based basis in information studies, and supervisory support from colleges, universities, and cooperating media specialists are all part of Maryland-approved programs.

Candidates seeking a Library Media Specialist certification should examine each program to see which one is the best fit for their needs. While some programs offer a traditional classroom setting, others are entirely online, and yet others are a combination of the two. Here are some of the possible programs to take, all of which lead to Maryland Department of Education accreditation as a School Library Media Specialist: Maryland Library and Information Science schools.

The following are some of the topics these programs include:

  • Children’s and young adult literature
  • Education and library technology
  • Information literacy skills
  • Instructional collaboration
  • Selecting quality materials that suit the needs of various learners
  • School library administration
  • In-depth practicum experience

Option 2

For the second option, you must meet the following requirements:

  • A bachelor’s degree or higher is required.
  • A full-time school library media practicum, one year of full-time teaching experience, or full-time school library media-related experience are required.
  • Thirty-six semester hours of post-baccalaureate or graduate credits with 15 semester hours completed at one institution. Graduate credits in the course work indicated below must account for a minimum of 24 semester hours of the credits.
    • History and philosophy of education
    • Student developmental levels, learning theory, and strategies for identifying student information and learning needs.
    • Theory, principles, and methods of instructional design and delivery
    • Inclusion of special needs student populations.
    • Administration of library media programs, including an understanding of State and national library media standards and technology standards.
    • Materials for children in all formats, including concepts related to the teaching and learning of reading.
    • Materials for young adults in all formats, including concepts related to the teaching and learning of reading.
    • Selection, evaluation, and use of materials in all formats to meet student curriculum and instructional needs.
    • Access and delivery of information, including reference and bibliographic systems in all formats.
    • Organization of knowledge, including cataloging and classification, and information retrieval in all formats.
    • Principles of communication, including dissemination and use of information in all formats.
    • The design, creation, and implementation of library media in all formats for instructional use.

Find all library and information science degree programs in Maryland.

Furthermore, a candidate must finish a school library media practicum, one year of full-time teaching experience, or one year of full-time school library media-related experience satisfactorily. For workers who work with complicated technology and children, prior expertise is a suitable need.

Testing Requirements

Maryland’s certification requirements currently do not have an examination requirement for the library media specialist certification.

Background Checks

Provisions in the Federal Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act of 2014 protect the health and safety of children in child care. Many new requirements occurred with the re-authorization, one connected to criminal background checks, sex offender registry checks, and child protective services checks for those dealing with children in child care facilities.

Part of the certification process for school library media specialists includes a background check for felonies or other concerns that could be detrimental to children. To complete a background check, residents of Maryland can go to any location that offers fingerprinting services. An applicant must provide the reasoning for acquiring the background check. In this case, it would be to acquire a Library Media Specialist Certification. An applicant must also bring a valid form of government-issued photo identification, a completed Livescan Pre-registration Application, and a method of payment for the background check.

Anyone residing outside the state of Maryland must request a fingerprint card. An applicant can request a fingerprint card by mail to the Criminal Justice Information System addressed to P.O. Box 32708, Pikesville, Maryland 21282-2708. Alternatively, an applicant can call the Criminal Justice Information System in Baltimore City at 410-764-4501 or toll-free at 1-888-795-0011.

Once a fingerprint card is acquired, the fingerprint card and associated fee, which is $18.00 as of 2021 for a state background check, should be mailed to:

Criminal Justice Information System – Central Repository P.O. Box 32708 Pikesville Maryland 21282 – 2708

Application Process

Upon completing all requirements for the School Librarian Media Specialist certification, an applicant must send all documentation to the Maryland State Department of Education. Prior to submitting any documentation, Maryland requires applicants to create a Maryland Department of Education Certification Branch portal account. Any documents the Maryland State Department of Education received prior to the creation of a portal account will be discarded.

After completing a portal account, you can mail all documentation in a single packet to:

Maryland State Department of Education
Certification Branch
200 W. Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201

Alternatively, you can submit documentation electronically by emailing it to

Alternative School Librarian Certification Process

The term “Alternative” with regard to career certification typically implies a pathway toward certification that poses fewer requirements than usual. The pathway is usually available due to shortages of professionals in the field. For school librarians in Maryland, the only two options are those stated above. However, if you are interested in becoming employed in the field of education as quickly as possible, you can follow the alternative methods toward teaching certification. This, in turn, will prepare you for a quick transition into school librarian certification.

The information below will help you understand the alternative pathway toward certification for a teacher.

Alternative teacher certification is available in Maryland for individuals with a bachelor’s degree but has not completed a teacher preparation program through the standard route to school library media license or certification. These pathways, which gear toward job changers with a bachelor’s degree, can help you get into the classroom without having to get a second bachelor’s degree.

Education and Experience Requirements

Candidates for alternative teacher certification in Maryland must have a bachelor’s degree. Candidates can take one of the numerous paths depending on their educational background and expertise. These alternative paths may allow you to teach while also completing certification requirements, perhaps cutting down on the time it takes to obtain a standard teaching certificate.

Testing Requirements

Furthermore, to become fully licensed to teach in Maryland, all educators must complete the same set of exams. Candidates must first pass a basic skills examination. The Praxis Core meets this prerequisite. Notably, exceptional SAT, ACT, or GRE scores may get used to waive the basic skills exam requirement.

Following that, candidates must complete the Praxis content area examinations for the library media area they seek endorsement. 

Background Checks

A background check for felonies or other concerns that could be harmful to children is part of the licensing procedure for school library media specialists. Furthermore, certification assists school librarians by preventing the general public from entering the profession, which would otherwise result in a more competitive job market. Ultimately, background checks in certification, especially for those taking alternate routes, helps to raise and maintain school librarian pay and benefits.

Application Process

Alternative teacher certification programs in Maryland often result in a master’s degree as well as license eligibility. Highly trained educators can also acquire certification by portfolio, albeit this is a rare option available in only a few states. On the other hand, most applicants will be obliged to undergo formal teacher preparation to obtain a teaching license and a library media specialist certification.

Applicants may opt to choose among the following certifications:

Resident Teacher Certificate (RTC)

Candidates with the Resident Teacher Certificate (RTC) can teach while enrolled in an alternative teacher preparation program. School districts and collaborating colleges and universities run RTC alternative preparation programs, resulting in a post-graduate credential award.

Conditional Certificate (COND)

At the request of a local school system, the Maryland State Department of Education will grant a Conditional Certificate to a candidate who is not already certified to teach. This certificate is normally only requested by the local school system if no certified instructors are available for an open job. This sort of certificate has a two-year expiration date.

The universities listed below offer programs that fulfill the Maryland Department of Education certification requirements for School Library Media Specialists.

Certification Renewal Procedure:

In additament to meeting the requirements of COMAR 13A.12.01.11B, a library media specialist or the holder of a valid certificate for an educational media associate (Level I), education media generalist (Level II), or an educational media specialist in a specific area (Level II) must complete the required reading course work outlined in COMAR 13A.12.01.11A(5)(b) to renew the certificate.

If you work for a Maryland public school system, a nonpublic special education facility, or a Maryland State Institution as a teacher, administrator, or specialist, please contact your employer to discuss your certification requirements. Keeping up with these requirements is crucial, as failure to meet your renewal requirements may negatively impact your employment status.

Certification Reciprocity Process

School librarian certification reciprocity is a slightly ambiguous concept since it gets frequently misunderstood to suggest that another state will unconditionally acknowledge a teaching license given in one state. Interstate reciprocity is not automatic, even though most states have reciprocity guidelines.

Suppose a school librarian wishes to teach in a state where they are not currently licensed. In that case, they must apply for a new license, and requests for teaching certificate reciprocity are normally reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the school librarian licensing body for that state.

In practice, teaching license reciprocity specifies which qualifications one state will accept from another state and which it will reject. The good news for educators is that while the process can be complicated, states with reciprocity agreements for teaching certifications often award educators who move from one state to another more time to complete the requirements while teaching on a temporary or provisional license.

The NASDTEC Interstate Agreement & Interstate Reciprocity

Simply put, while states may have agreements with other states that their education or testing standards are equal, as part of the interstate reciprocity agreement, a state may, and frequently does, impose its state-specific criteria.

The National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) is the most well-known agreement for teaching reciprocity between states. Allowing compact agencies to check a school librarian’s license status in other states, the NASDTEC Interstate Agreement makes the school librarian certification reciprocity procedure easier. This procedure means that certified school librarians aren’t always required to show extra verification of their credentials.

State-to-state NASDTEC agreements also specify which sorts of certification one state will accept from another. Maryland, for example, issues three different types of professional teaching credentials, whereas Virginia only issues two. Reciprocity between states is a concept that explains how these licenses will get transferred between the two states.

Furthermore, many jurisdictions only allow reciprocity for standard or professional teaching credentials, meaning that anyone teaching on a provisional or emergency certificate will not be able to transfer their certificate to another state. Educators who do not meet the requirements for reciprocal teaching certification can consider other certification choices.

Notably, Maryland is a NASDTEC participant. For certification reciprocity, Maryland requires the following:

  • Education/Experience Requirements: A bachelor’s degree from a regionally qualified institution and completion of a state-approved library and information science preparation program are required.
  • Testing Requirements: Passing scores on comparative curriculum tests conducted in another state are required.
  • Temporary Certificate Offered: If the candidate has a job offer from a Maryland school, they will receive a conditional certificate.
  • Other Notes: Before applying for reciprocal school librarian certification, the candidate must seek a credential evaluation.