Nebraska Public Librarian Certification Guide - 2024

AKA: Level I, Level II, Level II-L, Level III, Level III-L, Level IV, Level IV-L, Level V

by Staff

Updated: August 23rd, 2022

While librarianship rarely sees as much talk or admiration as deserved, the job is vitally important within our communities; and doing it well relies on a wealth of skills and experience. Getting one’s certification can be a big help in achieving those ends.

A public librarian certification is an endorsement or licensure that proves a librarian, worker, staff member, or admin has taken coursework or has generally met a series of competency requirements outlined by their state government. Similar to licensure procedures for other careers, the expectations and specifics for librarians will vary from location to location. Nebraska’s requirements are on the slightly more stringent side, depending on the level of certification in question.

Public Librarian Certification Guide

One can achieve several levels, ranging from level I to level V, with six others somewhat confusingly in-between. Understanding these levels and the conditions needed to meet each one is vital for anybody who wants to become a public librarian in Nebraska. After all, the state of Nebraska regards certification as a necessity that improves library service quality, keeps librarians up-to-date on their knowledge and skills, and ensures they can continue growing and developing within their chosen path.

However, make no mistake – getting one’s public librarian certification is just as much a personal benefit as it is for our library system and state, aiding you in earning recognition, giving an edge for hiring or promotion, increasing career stability/prospects, and potentially even securing a higher salary. It may be a lengthy process but one that’s more than worth it.

Education Requirements

Education plays a big role in the level of certification that you can receive and how efficiently you’ll move through the process. Each level has varying conditions to be met, with level I as the most accessible. For this, the only thing needed educationally is a high school diploma or a GED and to complete basic skills courses. Every level after this steadily ramps up.

College credit is a must for level II and beyond. For example, level II calls for a minimum of 60 credit hours from an accredited university plus basic skills proficiency, and II-L requires an A.A. degree or professional certificate in library science. By level III, you must have completed your skills courses and hold a bachelor’s degree, and levels IV and V are achieved by holding a graduate degree. General education isn’t the only stat influencing the certification levels available, though. Type of degree plays a role, too, since non-library science degree holders are automatically restricted to the regular levels.

Meanwhile, those with a bachelor’s in library science have access to III-L. These same people can also freely apply for IV-L, as long as they also hold a graduate degree in conjunction with a bachelor’s, A.A. or professional certificate in library science. But for those pursuing a level V, only the highest education is allowed, the level restricting admittance to only those who have a graduate degree from an American Library Association accredited library or information science program.

Meeting these educational conditions is no small task, although the right school will go a long way in making it feel manageable. If you’re only now starting your education journey, be on the lookout for universities that have well-loved professors and dedicated tutoring, advising, and mentorship opportunities on top of rigorous, well-recommended programs. Support is crucial for any student, but especially one who already intends to go above and beyond with certification. Having helpful resources already at hand will improve your learning and guarantee there’s always aid close at hand should you stumble along the way.

After your university coursework, there’s still yet more education to be completed: 45 credits, in fact. Both certification applicants with and without a library science degree or equivalent must complete this amount of continued education every three years. Failing to do so will result in certification lapsing, which may require you to apply again to get back in good standing. To avoid this, always keep watch of your renewal period and recorded CE hours through the CE record review database.

Again, for reference, here are the certification levels broken down succinctly:

  • Level I: High School Degree or GED Certificate
  • Level II: High School Degree or GED Certificate and at least 60 semester hours or 90 quarter hours of college credit or Two -Year College Degree
  • Level II-L: At least 60 semester hours or 90 quarter hours of college credit,  with A.A. degree or Professional Certificate in Library Science
  • Level III: Bachelor’s Degree
  • Level III-L: Bachelor’s Degree, with B.A. or A.A. degree, or Professional Certificate in Library Science.
  • Level IV: Graduate Degree
  • Level IV-L: Graduate Degree, with B.A. or A.A. degree, or Professional Certificate in Library Science.
  • Level V: MLS (Master’s of Library and Information Science) Graduate Degree

Experience Requirements

In several states, education alone isn’t enough. Beyond having to meet specific educational criteria, public librarian certification hopefuls are also expected – and often required – some familiarity with and experience within a public library. Nebraska does not share the same requirement per se. Anybody here who desires a public librarian certification can receive one, provided they meet the educational requirements as discussed above.

But this does come at a price. The point of overt experience requirements is to ensure that those seeking certification actually have the skills and abilities necessary within real library work, rather than merely possessing them theoretically or on paper. Because Nebraska has passed on these, certification instead opts for a ‘basic skills’ requirement. Meeting these demonstrates that you have the abilities, knowledge, and know-how that you’ll use every day within a library.

For public librarian certification applicants who have their degree in library science, you’re already assumed to have these skills due to the fact they’re stressed within your chosen program. You then do not have to take any outside course and instead go straight into working on CE hours. For those applicants who do not have a library science degree, however, practical experience must be gained through a specialized course training you in the basic skills of librarianship.

Collection management, community care/relations, communication, customer service, intellectual freedom/core librarianship values, and cataloging are the basic skills taught within the course, rounded out by taking electives ranging from leadership to finance to outreach. The combination will teach everything you need to know to be successful within your chosen field, helping secure your certification and guaranteeing you’ll have the experience that’ll set a solid foundation for the years and further education to come.

Testing Requirements

Nebraska public librarian certification calls for extensive education and industry-specific skills. Yet, these are largely the only steps you need to take for licensure. The state currently has no testing requirements for certification – on paper, demonstratively, or otherwise. As long everything previously outlined has been met and you have fully filled out and submitted your application, you don’t have to do anything beyond wait for certification confirmation.

Background Checks

Similar to their approach to testing, Nebraska’s rules don’t require the review of personal records. No background checks are given or examined when applying for public librarian certification. Although, it is not uncommon for said checks to be conducted by your library or any future libraries in which you wish to work. Minor misdemeanors or other offenses will not necessarily be a significant issue, but those with violent felonies will almost certainly be restricted from filling these positions. This provides extra security for library heads and keeps fellow employees, and library-goers are safe and sound.

Application Process

As is needed for any other certification, getting your public library certification will involve submitting an application. An online application is available for your convenience, but a paper version may be requested by calling the library commission or contacting the continuing education coordinator here. But regardless of the form type chosen, the Nebraska Library Commission has made the process remarkably quick and straightforward. You’ll be prompted to submit basic information like name, email, address, phone number, and library info (if you’re currently working at one) and then will be asked to select your desired certification level. You can then send off your application for review.

This is entirely free of charge, and you can expect a response to be relatively swift. Once everything has been looked at and processed, you should receive a receipt for your records, and a certificate will be issued to the preferred address listed on your application. Following this, you’re essentially done. All that’s left is to keep up with your continued education and enjoy the fruits of your hard work!