Mississippi School Librarian Certification Guide - 2023
AKA: Library Media License
What's Here? - Table of Contents
The school library can be viewed as a mansion of treasures as it provides resources for pupils and students to go the extra mile in learning. It also gives a serene climate for anybody to exercise their minds by digging through books and making mental connections. The usefulness of a library lies in the expectation that it fosters a learning culture in a conducive environment. Truthfully, a large percentage of this expectation is met with the services of a school librarian.
A school librarian is a qualified and licensed staff member laden with the responsibility of ensuring that the library meets appropriate standards and runs smoothly, all year round. As a school librarian you will have to interact with pupils/students, and other staff members in the discharge of your duties, hence you are expected to have certain skills and competencies under your belt. Some of these skills include literacy, teaching, and leadership.
Over the years, cataloging techniques and record-keeping amongst other tasks that school librarians handle, have taken on a new look due to the introduction of new technology. You need to be open to learning, and be willing to adapt to these changes as you will be managing them to keep the library functioning at its best. To be certain that you will deliver as a school librarian, you are expected to be certified appropriately. The certification measures differ from state to state.
As education is an important ingredient in preparing young people for life and the labor market, it must be taken seriously. Hence, properly certified people must be employed in schools. Therefore, certification is also necessary for you as a school librarian. Certification is a process that marks one as competent in the required skillset for a profession. It serves as a filter to prevent people who are not qualified from getting jobs that should go to certified professionals.
To practice in Mississippi as a librarian, you must be certified as required. The certification requirements are set and differ based on the stage you are at in your career. The license obtained after meeting all the requirements is called a Library/Media License with the code “440”. The requirements include proof of education and/or experience in the specialty area and passing certain examinations. The certification is offered in Classes A, AA, AAA, and AAAA. It is renewed every five years. The requirements and method of renewal will be covered as we progress.
A school librarian is expected to be equipped with certain skills that help them discharge their responsibilities properly. It is expected that these skills will be learned through a course in the specialty area and/or a certain degree of exposure to practice (usually through internships). The certification requirements include academic credentials to prove that you have the basic understanding and skill required to be a school librarian.
If you have completed a master’s in library/media from a reputable institution, you have satisfied the preliminary educational requirements to be licensed. If you do not have any of the above degrees, all hope is not lost yet. In this case, you need to have completed an approved program in library/media from a reputable institution, in addition to holding a valid five-year educator license. People who have a valid educator license and a valid three-year license for alternate route internship are also qualified.
The above educational requirements count for people who will receive a Class A Library/Media License. For the Class AA, AAA, or AAAA, you must complete a master’s, doctorate, or specialist degree in an institution that is approved by Mississippi or any other regionally/nationally accredited institution of higher learning.
Internships help you put theoretical concepts you have learned to practice in the field while acquiring other skills that could not have been taught to you in class. Experience is a relevant requirement for settling into a new job easily and properly. This means that you are familiar with all the processes that you will need to handle. Hence, you will be able to deliver and make improvements as necessary.
School librarians need to be able to deal with children reasonably to help them make the best use of the library. The patience and skill required to help the children see that you are offering advice from an informed perspective can only be learned through experience. As a professional who will be required to use complex technology to make your work more organized and synchronous, you need experience in handling such and adapting to updates.
In addition to the academic and experiential requirements for the library/media license, there are certain tests that you are required to take. These tests will further prove that you are truly as educated and licensed as you say you are. They give an overview of how well you are in tune with the competencies that your education and experience are supposed to have earned you. The required tests are conducted by ETS® Praxis®.
School librarians in Mississippi are required to take the Praxis II (Library Media Specialist) test. You may also be required to take the Praxis II (Principles of Learning and Teaching) if you are applying for a five-year Library/Media 440 License, particularly if you only have a degree.
There are five different variants of the “Principles of Learning and Teaching” test, with codes 5621 -5625. Each of them is for specific school grades. They are 2-hour long papers which cost $156 each. The “Library Media Specialist” test (5311) lasts for 2 hours and costs $130. The required pass mark for licensing as a school librarian is 143 for both tests. For more information about Praxis tests, go here. For practice materials for the tests go here.
When a person comes into an environment newly, a background check must be run on them to know if they are who they say they are. Certain people will be considered unfit for the job of a school librarian due to some things they have done in the past. Some of these people should not be allowed to work with school-aged children, not out of discrimination but just so everybody is safe.
However, there is no information on whether the state of Mississippi requires a background check to be done on applicants for a Library/Media License. It is important to note that this might be required by schools that you apply to for a job.
All applicants are required to set up a profile with and apply for licensure via the Educator Licensure Management System (ELMS) platform which can be accessed through the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) website. According to the latest version of the Licensure Application which can be downloaded here, applications can be completed online or in paper format.
Online applications must be backed with necessary credentials as specified in the licensure application checklist (under the Specific Five-Year Educator License). Your application will be deemed incomplete if you do not include the credentials which include:
The bottom two are required to be sent by the institutions where you studied and the examining body (Praxis, in this case).
Paper applications must be completed and uploaded together with the requested credentials as a single whole packet to your correspondence page on ELMS. Supporting documents can also be mailed to this addressMS Department of Education Office of Educator License PO BOX 771 Jackson MS 39205-0771
It is important to note that qualifying tests are not presently a requirement for application till December 31, 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
There is no application fee for the licensure review, presently.
For more information about requirements and the application procedure, read pages 5-11, and 47 here.
The initial Library/Media License is valid for 5 years following its issuance, after which it must be renewed. The renewal process requires ten (10) continuing education units (CEUs) in an area related to your job or skills, or three (3) semester hours of relevant college course work and five (5) CEUs, six (6) semester hours of course content related to your work, or the completion of the national board certification process for school librarians.
School librarians must pay attention to professional development if they will continue to practice. Here is a list of approved organizations offering CEUs and coursework. Applications for license renewal are typically done online. The form can be downloaded here. The “Renewal/Reinstatement” box must be ticked in this case.
Applicants who possess valid licenses from other states can apply for a five or two-year reciprocity license as required. This holds as long as the state in question, is endorsed by Mississippi.
This application requires the following;