Montana Public Librarian Certification Guide - 2022

AKA: Montana Certification Program for Library Directors, Staff, and Trustees

Last Reviewed: November 18th, 2021

Today, public librarians have many more roles and responsibilities than they used to. Being a public librarian in the state of Montana requires certain specialized skills and training to ensure public librarians are prepared to handle their wide range of responsibilities.

As a public librarian, you must use technology comfortably, coordinate community programs, manage personnel, and review and research materials, among other responsibilities. For this reason, certification is important, as it assesses the many competencies required to succeed. It also helps to prepare candidates for the types of skills that are required on the job.

To become a public librarian in the state of Montana, one must complete the Montana Certification Program for Library Directors, Staff and Trustees. 

This article provides a simple outline of the process of becoming a certified public librarian in the state of Montana. It will give you a better understanding of the certification process so you can feel more confident in your journey toward starting this fulfilling career.

Public Librarian Certification Process

The technical name of the public librarian certification in Montana is the Montana Certification Program for Library Directors, Staff, and Trustees. The program includes three different Certification Tracks:

  1. Library Administrator Track (required for all public library directors)
  2. Library Staff Track
  3. Trustee Track

In addition, there are also certification specializations available for candidates who desire continuing education in a particular category. These include specializations in Collection Management and Technical Services, Library Services to the Public, and/or Technology. You can earn a specialization by accumulating a minimum of 20 credits (10 credits for trustees) in that category.

Certificates must be renewed every 4 years.

Education Requirements

To become a certified public librarian, you must meet certain continuing education requirements. These requirements vary depending on the track you select. You must complete all of the education requirements within 4 years.

  1. Library Administrator Track:

    Requires 60 continuing education credits including:

    • At least 20 credits in the Library Administration category
    • At least 10 credits in each of the other three continuing education categories (Library Services to the Public, Collection Management and Technical Services, and Technology)
    • The remaining credits are for electives
  2. Library Staff Track:

    Requires 60 continuing education credits including:

    • At least 10 credits in each of the 4 continuing education categories (Library Administration, Library Services to the Public, Collection Management and Technical Services, and Technology)
    • The remaining credits are for electives
  3. Trustee Track:

    Requires 15 continuing education credits including:

    • At least 10 credits in the Library Administration continuing education category
    • The remaining credits are for electives in any continuing education category

When looking for schools, it’s preferable to look for institutions that are accredited by the American Library Association (ALA). You can find more information about selecting the right school for you in the American Library Association’s database of ALA-accredited programs or search through all Library and Media Science programs offered in Montana.

If you’re serious about your career as a public librarian, you may choose to obtain a master’s degree in library science from an ALA-accredited program. This will make you a more competitive candidate and will afford you more career flexibility down the road. You can find out how a graduate degree qualifies for library certification here.

If you are already a member of the library staff, an administrator, or a trustee, keep track of all your continuing education credits on your CE tracking form which will be provided by your supervisor. You can find continuing education activities sponsored by MLA or MSL on the Certification Continuing Education List. This list includes all of the information you need to track your CE credits for each event.

For all other continuing education events approved by your supervisor, be sure to keep track of the following information:

  • Event/Sponsor
  • Date
  • Workshop/Training Title
  • Trainer/Presenter
  • Number of Credits (ask your supervisor)
  • CE Category (ask your supervisor or contact the State Library for help)

Experience Requirements

When you become a public librarian, you’re expected to work well with complex technology, library patrons, and library staff. Such a wide range of duties requires candidates to have background experience that has prepared them with a diverse set of skills.

You should have experience in roles that enable you to gain technological and interpersonal skills. Many libraries offer internships and part-time positions that offer valuable work experience. Working in a library will not only provide you with more experience, but it will also help you get a feel for the daily responsibilities involved in being a librarian.

If you aren’t able to get a part-time job in a library, try volunteering. Most libraries offer opportunities for people to volunteer, whether it means reading to patrons, preparing library programs, shelving books, or assisting with computer classes.

Testing Requirements

There is no specific test required to become a public librarian in the state of Montana. Candidates must apply for certification after meeting the necessary education requirements.

You can use ASPeN (Access to Services, Programs, and eNetworks) to keep track of your continuing education credits and apply for certification when you are ready.

Background Checks

Public librarians must undergo background checks in order to become certified. Professional and criminal background checks are important for maintaining the high standards required of public librarians as well as the safety of our communities.

Application Process

After you have met all the requirements for certification under the track you’ve selected (Administrator, Staff, or Trustee), you must submit your CE Certification Form online. This form will ask you for the following:

  • Identification information
  • Certification track you’ve selected
  • Specializations achieved
  • Signature of applicant
  • Signature of supervisor verifying continuing education credits
    • The Staff supervisor is the department head or director
    • The Director supervisor is the Board chair or an administrator who is responsible for the library
    • The Trustee supervisor is the Board chair
  • Indication of preferred recognition level
  • Completed tracking form of all training you’ve successfully completed including:
    • Event/Sponsor
    • Date
    • Workshop/Training Title
    • Trainer/Presenter
    • Number of Credits
    • Continuing Education Category

If you attended any events such as library conferences that offer multiple workshops, you should list each session you attended separately on the tracking form. 

Applications for public librarian certification can only be submitted online via the MT Library Directory. Printed copies are available online for informational purposes only, so do NOT mail your forms.