New Jersey Public Librarian Certification Guide - 2024

AKA: New Jersey State Professional Librarian Certificate

by Staff

Updated: May 11th, 2024

Licensor: NJ State Libraries

Librarians are civil servants at the heart of many communities. Beyond the roles we may most often associate them with, like book recommendations and library upkeep, they perform many services that can’t be found elsewhere in many towns and cities.

Today’s librarians are still book advisors, but they’re also technology experts, information detectives, children’s storytellers, event coordinators, and many other titles depending on what’s needed in the community at any given moment. Over the years, as the scope of services that libraries offer has evolved, so too have job descriptions for our country’s librarians.

Part of the challenge associated with this transition is that it can be difficult for librarians to demonstrate that they have the skills required for the job. It can also be difficult for libraries to find skilled librarians who have evolved and up-skilled along with the industry.

This pair of challenges is one of the main reasons for public librarian certifications, which many states have adopted to make it easier for libraries and librarians to align the right skills with the right job descriptions. The certification also helps to standardize the role of a librarian across a given state and gives librarians more career stability and higher salaries because there are fewer qualified applicants.

This guide exists as a walkthrough for New Jersey’s certification process to help candidates understand how to approach the process. We’ll start with an explanation of what the state’s certification is, followed by detailed descriptions of the requirements and the application process. Let’s get started!

New Jersey’s Librarian Certification Guide

New Jersey’s certification is called the New Jersey State Professional Librarian Certificate. It’s also commonly referred to as the New Jersey Professional Librarian License. Both titles refer to the same certification, which is granted by the State of New Jersey through Thomas Edison State University (formerly Thomas Edison State College).

The certification was previously granted by the New Jersey Department of Education up until April 24, 2004. Librarians in possession of the license from the Department of Education in 2004 or earlier are still in possession of valid licenses, and may have their licenses replaced by Thomas Edison State University if they’re lost or damaged.

While not required, all professional staff in New Jersey public libraries are encouraged to have a Professional Librarian License, including librarians themselves and anyone else in a professional capacity at the library. This requirement applies to both part-time and full-time staff members.

The official terms that New Jersey state libraries are held to can be found at here. Here is a brief excerpt of the requirements:

  1. “Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 45:8A-3 any municipality or group of municipalities having a population of 10,000 inhabitants or over shall require that any person employed in a public library in any professional office or position that requires, for adequate performance, the knowledge and techniques of library science as taught in accredited library schools to hold a Professional Librarian’s Certificate.”
  2. “Pursuant to N.J.A.C. 15:21-2.3 and 2.4, a library serving any municipality or group of municipalities having a population of 7,500 inhabitants or over, N.J.S.A. 45:8A-3 notwithstanding, will employ, in all professional librarian positions counted for State Library Aid purposes, librarians holding a New Jersey Professional Librarian’s Certificate.”

Education and Experience Requirements

The State of New Jersey also encourages applicants to possess a master’s degree in library and information studies from a program accredited by the American Library Association (MLA). The application requires submission of an official transcript that includes the date of degree conferment.

Applicants can find a list of accredited institutions offering Masters degree programs in Library and Information Science in New Jersey, here.

Many other states allow other education or equivalent work experience to replace some or all of the certification education requirement. The State of New Jersey is very clear that under no circumstances may the degree requirements for certification be waived, and alternative education and/or experience may not be substituted for degree requirements. 

The only potential alternative to the master’s degree in library and information studies is an equivalent degree from a foreign institution. For those that fall in this category, the application must include an official transcript that lists a master’s level program in library and information studies accredited or recognized by the appropriate national body of another country. This website provides options for foreign bodies that are equivalent to the ALA and may provide accreditation for library programs.

Testing Requirements

There are no testing requirements for the New Jersey State Professional Librarian Certificate other than those involved in the master’s degree in library and information studies. There is no test involved in the application process.

Background Checks

The State of New Jersey does not require a background check as part of the criteria to receive a New Jersey State Professional Librarian Certificate.

Application Process

The application form may be downloaded at here. The application also requires a nonrefundable certificate fee, payable by certified check/money order in the amount of $75. For duplicate certificates after the initial issue, the fee is $40. Checks should be payable to Thomas Edison State University.

A transcript is also required as part of the application, showing the master’s degree in library and information studies from an ALA accredited program with the date of degree issuance. Transcripts must be official and sealed to be valid as part of the application. Unsealed transcripts will be considered invalid and will require applicants to resubmit an application with another application fee.

The application and all relevant materials and attachments should be submitted to Thomas Edison State University in one complete packet. Submit all materials (application, transcripts, and certification fee) in one envelope and send to:

ATTN: New Jersey Professional Librarian Certification
Office of the Registrar
Thomas Edison State University
111 W. State St.
Trenton,NJ 08608

On behalf of the State Library, the Office of the Registrar at Thomas Edison State College will issue a Professional Librarian Certificate to librarians who wish to serve in public libraries based upon the requirements outlined above. Professional Librarian Certificates are permanent; once they have been granted, they do not need to be renewed.