New Mexico Public Librarian Certification Guide - 2024

AKA: Permanent Professional Librarian Certification, Grade I or II Librarian Certification, Temporary Librarian Certification

by Staff

Updated: November 4th, 2023

Licensor: NM State Library

Librarians across the US have had to adapt in recent years to keep up with technology trends and changing community needs. While many people assume that the role is all about book recommendations and library upkeep, today’s librarians also provide a variety of services including tech support, information sourcing, career guidance, and more.

The challenge with this evolving job description is that librarians may have no formal way to keep up with trends and stay sharp over time and libraries may have difficulty finding qualified applicants for professional roles. Plus, since public library branches exist in many areas across the state, standardizing the role between branches can be complicated.

A public librarian certification solves these problems in many cases, giving librarians an option for continued education and providing a clear signal of competence. This can help librarians find stable employment and increase salaries in the short- and long-term since the certification cuts down on qualified applicants.

While many states offer a public librarian certification, there’s no national standard and each state gets to make its own rules and requirements around the process. In some states, certification is mandatory for employment, while in others, it’s just an option that’s available.

This guide will walk you through what New Mexico offers as library certification, whether it’s required for employment, and how to meet the requirements and apply.

If you’d like to go straight to the source, New Mexico’s state website regarding librarian certification can be found here.

New Mexico’s Librarian Certification Guide

There are four different types of certification options in New Mexico. Certifications are only required for chief librarians, not for other librarians or professional staff members. Here are the four options along with a specific breakdown of the requirements. Population figures are decided by the last federal decennial census.

  • Permanent Professional Certification: Required for the chief librarian in communities having populations of more than 15,000.
  • Grade II Certification: Required for the chief librarian in communities having populations of 10,000 – 15,000.
  • Grade I Certification: Required for the chief librarian in communities having a population of 3,000 – 10,000.
  • Temporary Certification: Issued for a one-year period by the State Librarian in special cases.

Once certification at any level is achieved, it is permanent and does not need to be renewed.

Education and Experience Requirements

The Grade I and Grade II Certifications can both be acquired with or without examination. To meet the requirements without having to take an exam, the following education requirements must be met.

  • For Grade I Certification without exam, applicants need two years of undergraduate coursework plus nine hours of library science courses from an accredited college or university.
  • For Grade II Certification without exam, applicants need a degree from an accredited college of university with a minor in library science or 21 semester hours of library science coursework beyond what’s required for Grade I Certification.
  • For the Permanent Professional Certification, examination is not offered and applicants must have a master’s degree in library and information science (MLS/MLIS) from a college or university accredited by the American Library Association (ALA).

Find all library and information science degree programs in New Mexico.

Library staff members that meet the education requirements above may apply for certification even if they are not currently library directors.

Testing Requirements

The Grade I and Grade II Certifications offer an examination option that allows applicants to bypass the education requirements. Exams must be completed at the New Mexico State Library and may take up to five hours, although most applicants finish in two to four hours.

The exams don’t allow outside sources of any kind. As part of the exam, applicants will be given information about a portfolio submission and will have 30 days after the exam to submit a portfolio to the Development Bureau.

For a Grade I Certification, applicants need a grade of 70 or above and must submit one portfolio piece. For a Grade II Certification, applicants need a grade of 80 or above and must submit two portfolio pieces. Applicants may take the exam up to three times (with 30 days in between attempts) without submitting another application or application fee.

Exams can be taken in two periods throughout the year. The first option is January 1st through March 31st, and the deadline to apply for this exam is January 16th. The second option is April 1st through June 30, and the deadline to apply for this exam is April 17th. No exam options are available between July 1st and December 31st.

There are study sessions available each quarter to help applicants study for the exam. They are approximately six hours long and participation is strongly encouraged for anyone taking a test. The Library Foundations guide is a useful study material but should not be the only source of information studied for the exam. Seeking out other sources is highly recommended before taking the exam.

Note that only current library directors are eligible to take the certification exam as it is not designed as a replacement for training or continued education.

An FAQ for the certification exam can be found here.

Background Checks

There is no background check requirement for any of the New Mexico librarian certifications.

Application Process

Application are accepted in a two-week window each quarter. Once the application is submitted, the applicant has until the end of the quarter to take the examination (if required). Note that exams are not offered during all four quarters, so refer back to the timeline above in the examination section.

The application form may be downloaded at the bottom of the certification page here. The application fee breakdown is as follows:

  • Grade I, with exam: $20
  • Grade I, without exam: $10
  • Grade II, with exam: $20
  • Grade II, without exam: $10
  • Permanent Professional: $10
  • Temporary: $20

Checks or money orders should be made out to:

New Mexico State Library
Library Development Services
Attention: Certification
1209 Camino Carlos Rey
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87507

Official college transcripts are required along with the application for the Permanent Professional Certification (graduate degree only) and Grade I/II Certifications without exam. A written recommendation is required for the Temporary Certification.