New Mexico School Librarian Certification Guide - 2022

AKA: School Media Specialist Endorsement, Library Media Endorsement

Last Reviewed: August 23rd, 2022

Licensor: NM PDE

Seeking a career as a librarian in the Land of Enchantment? New Mexico public school librarians manage and maintain repositories of information (books, databases, periodicals, and video/audio archives) for retrieval by students and instructors. They help library users find and organize data and enable library media devices.

In New Mexico, Librarians and School Media Specialists, serve students in K-12 public and private schools. They also assist teachers in curriculum development and source materials for classroom instruction.

While the BLS forecasts the employment of librarians and library media specialists to grow 7.7% from 2018 to 2028, note that New Mexico employs relatively few public school librarians. 

Across New Mexico, school districts have steadily reduced the number of librarians on staff. In 2018, The New Mexican found only five librarians serving the needs of 30 schools in Sante Fe’s public school district. The state has only 219 librarians to cover 800+ public schools.

Initial School Librarian Certification Process

Compared to most states, New Mexico has relatively lax certification standards for public school librarians. Indeed, state law “requires certification for the chief librarian of a public or state agency library only.” 

Essentially, New Mexico public school librarians must have three qualifications:

  • A Bachelor’s degree or a teaching license or National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) certification in library media
  • Pass the Content Knowledge Assessment (CKA) for the Library Media Specialist exam from Praxis 
  • 24-36 semester hours in library media coursework  

Education Requirements

As noted above, librarians meet the New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED) educational requirement by holding a Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited four-year college or university. Recently, NMPED added specific requirements for teacher licensure. 

In New Mexico, public school librarians are considered teachers with a Library Media endorsement. Thus, prospective school librarians must add a Library Media endorsement to their state teaching license. 

Teacher Certification Overview

Chapter 61 of the New Mexico Administrative Code (NMAC) establishes specific requirements for licensure of teachers in the following seven categories:

A public school teacher licensed in any of the above categories has a pathway to becoming a certified librarian in New Mexico’s public schools.

Beginning in Fall 2017, NMPED requires students first entering a regionally accredited college or university to complete the following curriculum to receive licensure for the Elementary, Middle Level, Secondary, Grades Pre K-12 and Special Education categories:

  • nine semester hours in communication
  • six semester hours in mathematics
  • eight semester hours in laboratory science
  • nine semester hours in social and behavioral science
  • nine semester hours in humanities and fine arts

Moreover, each category requires candidates to fulfill semester-hour credits specific to their competency. For example, Secondary Education, Grades 7-12 requires beginning candidates to have the following: 

  • 24-30 semester-hour credits in professional education in a secondary education program from a regionally accredited college or university.
  • 24-36 semester-hour credits in library media coursework, 12 hours of which must be in upper-division courses, as defined by the college or university.
  • a mandatory student teaching component.
  • pass all portions of the current NMPED-approved teacher test.
  • satisfy the requirements of “a highly qualified beginning secondary teacher.”

Per NMAC, “a highly qualified beginning secondary teacher” is “a teacher fully qualified to teach the core academic subjects in grades 7-12, new to the profession, and has pursued a standard route to licensure.” Additionally, this teacher must  

  • meet the requirements for secondary 7-12 licensure 
  • has no licensure requirements waived for any reason, including those on an emergency or temporary basis
  • pass all applicable teacher testing requirements for licensure

Experience Requirements

As noted above in subsection b), teachers (and librarians) must fulfill a mandatory student teaching component. Note that student teaching occurs while the candidate teacher or librarian completes baccalaureate degree requirements.

Testing Requirements

NMAC §6.60.5 addresses competency testing for the licensure of teachers and librarians. It applies to all candidates seeking teaching licensure or a library media endorsement or registered to take or have taken any portion of the New Mexico teacher assessments (NMTA). 

Two basic categories compose the NMTA —

  1. a basic skills and competency assessment and
  2. a content knowledge assessment (CKA).

1) Basic Skills and Competency Assessment — A passing score of 240 on both the assessment of basic teacher skills and  teacher competency for any of the seven categories cited in subsection b) above.

2) Content Knowledge Assessment — All initial teacher licensure applicants must pass a test in their content area based on the seven categories in subsection b). For example, those applying for licensure in Secondary Education 7-12 and seeking a library media endorsement must pass the NMPED CKA in library media before being issued a teaching license. Existing teachers qualify for the library media endorsement by either:

NMPED employs the Praxis Library Media Specialist (5311) CKA to test the competency of candidate librarians.

Background Checks

The NM School Personnel Act (§22-10A-5) requires all public school personnel to pass a background check. This rule applies to all applicants, including:

  • currently employed licensed individuals
  • applicants for initial teaching licensure
  • applicants for initial instructional support provider licensure 
  • applicants offered employment who have not completed a background check in over 24 months
  • new employment applicants 

NMPED defines “new employment applicants” as “applicants for new employment with a different school district, charter school, or regional education cooperative including applicants for positions” requiring a license issued by NMPED.

NMAC defines “background check” as “a criminal history report produced by the federal bureau of investigation (FBI) or the New Mexico Department of Public Safety (DPS).  Reports produced by DPS shall be valid only if created and produced after a check or review of FBI criminal history files.”

Applicants for initial licensure and currently employed personnel must be fingerprinted and provide two fingerprint cards or a digital equivalent to NMPED to access the applicant’s FBI file. All licensure applicants must include the following code on their fingerprint documents: ORI# NM920140Z and Reason Code: TEACHER LICENSURE.

Background checks cost $44; applicants pay online through Gemalto, the NMPED-approved fingerprint processing vendor. Out-of-state applicants submit fingerprint cards to Gemalto’s California DOJ office. Instructions for both types of submittals can be requested from NMPED’s Licensure Background Specialist at ethics@state.nm.us.

Note that §22-10A-5 does not define out-of-state or in-state applicants. Also, the FBI background check is valid for only 24 months from the date of FBI issuance.

Application Process

The NMPED Licensure Bureau offers a guide for online applications and payments. This .pdf guides the applicant step-by-step to complete user registration, application creation, document uploads, and payment. Start at https://licensureapp.ped.state.nm.us. Should questions arise, query NMPED’s Licensure Background Specialist at LicensureUnit@state.nm.us.

The fee for initial teacher Licensing is $125. The teacher application processing fee for continuing licensure is $95. The Library Media Specialist endorsement application fee is $95.

Certification Renewal Procedure

NMPED licenses and endorsements are valid for nine years except for a Level 1 license, valid for five years. All licenses may be renewed within six months of the expiration date. For more details, consult the “Renewals” section (p. 129) of the NMPED Licensure Guide

Certification Reciprocity Process

A copy of the applicant’s current standard license must be provided to NMPED. Verification of previous teaching experience under the out-of-state certificate must be provided from a letter with the out-of-state/country district’s letterhead. Also, applicants must provide test scores from any exams taken for their license(s) (or a notarized statement verifying that tests were not required for licensure) to NMPED. 

Note that reciprocity only applies if an applicant’s teaching license commensurates to one issued by NMPED. The applicant must meet New Mexico licensure requirements, as NMPED lacks statutory authority to reciprocate other licenses types. 

New Mexico School Librarian Jobs

Those interested in seeking a job as a New Mexico public school librarian can start by referring to the NMPED’s Licensure Guide and the Online Application and Payment System Quick Start Guide. Good luck!