Montana School Librarian Certification Guide - 2022

AKA: Library Endorsement

Last Reviewed: August 23rd, 2022

Licensor: MT OPI

Over the years, newer technological advancements have found their way into academics. This comes as no shock as pupils and students are being prepared to be functional individuals in the society and their chosen careers as they move on in life. These advancements have also featured in how the library is run this is why school librarians must be conversant with these upgrades and be able to adapt adequately. School librarians in Montana must be certified to show that they can execute the tasks that will be expected of them. This is in keeping with the fact that the formative years of the “leaders of tomorrow” are at stake. This is why all members of staff in schools need to be professionals that are capable of doing their jobs well.

As a school librarian, you will be in contact with children from different backgrounds, with different personality types, hence you must be skilled in conversing with them. As a healthy reading culture is an important ingredient for building a productive mind, you will be required to employ tactics that make the pupils and students see studying as something they need and want to do. You will also be expected to manage books and media materials as is consistent with traditional librarian roles. Hence, certification is a necessity.

Initial Montana Librarian Certification Process

Certification is a way that state departments of education ensure that only qualified people are employed in schools. The librarian certification process in Montana is peculiar as it is heavily linked with having a teaching license. This is not surprising as a school librarian will be required to teach pupils and students how to take advantage of technology in studying and referencing. To be a school librarian in Montana, you must first obtain a teaching license, to which you will add a “Library” endorsement. The procedure for this will be covered later. The license that you must first obtain is a Class 2 Standard Teaching License. This license is valid for five (5) years.

Education Requirements

Since having a teaching license is a prerequisite for applying for the “Library” endorsement, you will likely already have completed the initial requirement of a bachelor’s degree and completion of an educator preparation program. Educator preparation programs that are accredited by MACTE, CAEP, NCATW, or any other ones approved by the state in a regionally accredited institution are also sufficient. You would also have satisfied the educational requirements for the educator license if you have completed a National Board Certification Program.

To satisfy the “Library” endorsement education requirement, you will need to complete a masters degree in Library and Information Science, or a similar type of program.

The licensing board also requires every applicant for a teaching license in Montana to have completed a compulsory online course, “An Introduction to Indian Education for All in Montana. The certificate of completion will be added to your Montana State Educator Information System (MSEIS) during your application. The course equips you with basic knowledge concerning American-Indian issues.

Experience Requirements

For the Teaching License

This is particularly important if the applicant does not have fundamental training in a teaching-related field. Teacher preparation programs usually have a provision for internships as part of the coursework and/or after completion of the courses. This helps bridge the gap between the education received and practice. If you did not partake in a traditional teaching program, you will be expected to have a minimum of five (5) years of teaching experience.

For applicants who have been through an educator preparation program, you are expected to have undergone supervised or student teaching to a reasonable extent during or around your program. Ensuring that licensed individuals have some level of exposure to what will be expected of them in practice protects the future of students. This also saves the Office of Public Instruction the trouble of having to deal with complaints of the incompetence of licensed educators.

For the “Library” Endorsement

The “Library” endorsement educational requirement of a masters in Library Science will typically involve a practicum as part of the curriculum that must be successfully completed.

Testing Requirements

Applicants for a library-endorsed educator license to practice in Montana must take a Praxis® test that aligns with their chosen field of education. You can check through the options here to find which is appropriate for you. Information about the qualifying scores and test codes can also be found there. You can also check for the test fees and the duration of the tests here.

In addition, you will also be required to take a Praxis® II – Library Media Specialist Test (Grades K-12). The test code is 5311 and you are expected to meet the pass mark of 15 points. This is a 120-question test that lasts for 2 hours. The test fee is $130. For information about how to pay for the test, go here. For practice materials for any Praxis® tests you are taking, go here.

Background Checks

The Office of Public Instruction (OPI) is responsible for certifying qualified educators who are expected to be of proper standing. As part of this process, they require that background checks be done on each applicant. This ensures that they can prevent individuals who have been identified with harmful tendencies that can lead to terrible incidents in the future. This is a thorough review of your past criminal, financial, and any other records that can be used to evaluate how much of a responsible citizen you have been.

The OPI will only accept fingerprint-based background results that are done solely to apply for teacher licensure. You need to go to a local law enforcement office or any other unit that offers fingerprinting services to get your prints captured properly. There, you will generate two fingerprint cards. Note that you might be required to pay a fee for the capture process. You will be required to fill in your details on the cards, as well as some others that can be found here.

You must then mail the completed cards to the Montana Department of Justice including a check payable to them for the processing fee of $30. The mail should be sent to the following address:

Montana Department of Justice
Criminal Records & Identification Services
PO Box 201403
Helena, MT 59620-1403

Application Process

Once you have met all the application requirements, you can now apply for a Class 2 Standard Educator License. This involves you setting up an account on the Montana State Educator Information System (MSEIS) webpage which you can access here. Next, you will need to fill an online or hardcopy application that will be reviewed by the OPI. However, certain supplemental forms must be signed and submitted before your application can be processed. These include:

  • Fingerprint Background Check Instructions and Supplement
  • Notary Page
  • University Recommendation Form
  • Out-of-State License History Form

You can find the links to these forms on this page under the second point of the application process.

Your official transcripts must also be uploaded to your MSEIS page, as well as confirmation that you have passed and completed the required Praxis® tests and the “Introduction to Indian Education for All in Montana” respectively. If you have a valid out-of-state license, you will also need to upload this to your MSEIS records.   

You can now upload your supplemental forms online. However, should you run into any difficulties while doing this, you can mail them to the address above.

Mailing your forms will slow down your application process. All forms must be completed and returned before your application can commence. Here is a link to a video of how to upload your documents.

Certification Renewal Procedure

The Class 2 Standard Educators License is valid for five years after which it must be renewed. To apply for a renewal, you must first accumulate a combination of college semester credits and OPI renewal credits.  The college credits must be obtained from a regionally accredited institution. You need 60 OPI renewal units or a combination of these units with college semester credits.

As a conversion metric, note that each college semester credit is equal to 15 OPI renewal units while a quarter credit is the same as 10 OPI renewal units. For more on renewal units, go here.

Licenses expire by June 30. However, renewal applications can be sent up to August 31. It is advisable to apply for renewal earlier, as you can start sending in applications from January 2 of the year that your license will expire. If you have missed a year of renewal, your application will be for a reinstatement instead. You can learn more about this here. For regular license renewal, go here. The application is usually done online. If you run into any issues with uploading your requirements, you can mail them with a completed form to the address mentioned above.

Reciprocity Process

The state of Montana is not part of any interstate reciprocity agreement. This means that if you are a teacher who has a valid license in another state, you cannot transfer the license from that state to Montana. Hence, you must go through the normal application process to get an initial Class 2 Standard Educators License. If you have been through a teacher training program that included some supervised or student teaching, and you met other requirements, you can apply for your license. You will be required to have a background check run on you and to fulfill all testing requirements. You will also be expected to pay the prescribed fees.