New York Public Librarian Certification Guide - 2024

by Staff

Updated: August 23rd, 2022

Licensor: NY State Library

There has been an ongoing change related to libraries, and the librarian’s role has become more complex than it used to be. As the changes continue, there have been updates on the requirements needed to pursue a career as a librarian across many states. Each state has set its own unique guidelines on how individuals can become certified public librarians with requirements ranging from a master’s degree, a basic set of courses, or a combination of both with experiential hours needed. A public librarian certification entails the necessary education and experience per state to determine one’s ability to expertly handle the complex and changing skills required to be a successful librarian.

While the thought of undergoing the process of certification may seem intimidating, this process will benefit librarians, local libraries, and library patrons in the long run. Certification requirements decrease the number of people able to apply for a job as a librarian, leading to increased career stability and higher salaries for individuals who are certified and provide a robust professional base for the libraries to flourish.

New York State Public Librarian Certification Process

To become a public librarian in New York, you must successfully meet all requirements and apply for a New York State Public Librarian Certificate, along with paying the required $5.00 application fee. The following guide will provide you with a breakdown of the certification process and requirements. Be sure to carefully review the following guide to determine your next steps toward becoming certified successfully.

Education Requirements

To actively pursue a New York State Public Librarian Certificate, there is a baseline of graduate education that you must hold. The most important thing to keep in mind while reviewing your current graduate education or looking for a graduate degree to become a librarian in New York is to ensure the school and degree are accredited by the American Library Association (ALA).

There are currently two ways that an individual can meet the educational requirements to receive a professional New York State Librarian Certificate:

  1. Hold an ALA-accredited Masters in Library and Information Science (MLIS) or a library degree from a library school located explicitly in New York.
  2. Have six graduate credit hours from an ALA-accredited school, hold a New York State Public Librarian conditional certificate, and have two years of satisfactory professional experience at a library located anywhere in the United States. For further information on qualifications needed to hold a New York State Public Librarian conditional certificate, please visit Westlaw website.

ALA-accredited schools across the country offer library science degrees in a range of names and acronyms. It can be a daunting task trying to find the perfect degree and school while ensuring they include the concepts needed to meet certificate requirements. However, an easily accessible and valuable resource online provides further information about ALA-accredited library degrees and schools to make finding your educational path easier. You can visit the ALA website for an up-to-date directory of ALA-accredited programs or contact schools offering Library and Information Science programs in New York here.

Keep in mind, if you meet all requirements and are granted a professional certificate, you will need to manage an ongoing professional development education to maintain your certification. You will be required to complete at least 60 hours of professional development every five years that you hold a New York State Public Librarian certification if you intend to maintain your credentialing. These 60 hours can comprise formal courses, lectures, seminars, conference programs, or other relevant programs. For further information related to professional development requirements, visit the New York State Education Department website.

Experience Requirements

Libraries function much the same way other businesses do, with the primary goal of being successful and well managed. For this reason, it is essential to have a knowledgeable and skilled librarian at the head. As far as experience requirements for certification, this is primarily based on whether you have the needed education. If you have a Master’s in Library and Information Science (MLIS) or an equivalent degree, then you will not be required to meet any additional experience requirements.

However, if you do not meet the educational requirement of holding a master’s degree, there is a need for experience. You will not only need to complete six credit hours at an ALA-accredited school and meets the designation to hold a conditional certificate, but you will also need to acquire two years of professional experience working at a library. This experience can be gained at any library in the United States; however, this professional experience must be certified by the library director from the library where you acquired the knowledge for it to qualify.

Testing Requirements

Due to the extensive education requirements, there is no additional testing required to complete the application process. Applicants are required to prove their successful completion of their Master’s in Library and Information Science or other qualifying education and experience, which negates the need for further testing.

Background Checks

You will not be required to meet a background check requirement to acquire a New York State Public Librarian certificate. However, it is important to note, it is possible, and even likely, your future or prospective employer may still request a background check as a term of employment.

Application Process

The application is a multiple-step process, with the central portion of the application having to be submitted through an online portal. You will be required to create an account to submit the application, which you can then later use to keep track of your certification if you are approved. Current certificate holders also use this online portal to complete the renewal process as well. Visit this webpage to create your account and start your application process.

After submitting your application through the online portal, you are required to submit your application fee of $5.00 and your transcripts for the review to be completed. Official transcripts with degree conferrals need to be mailed to the same address as the check application fee. The address listed below is where you will send your check for the application fee or official transcripts:

Public Librarian Certification
The State Education Department
Division of Library Development
Cultural Education Center, Room 10B41
Albany, NY 12230

The New York State Library does encourage applicants to request electronic copies of their transcripts be sent to if possible. Having an electronic copy of your transcripts emailed in will result in a quicker review and processing of your application. After the New York State Library has received your online application, application fee, and proof of your qualifying education, they will review all information and determine your eligibility. If you are deemed eligible, they will send your approved New York State Public Librarian Certificate to you via your provided email.

Suppose, for some reason, you have completed each required step and have yet to receive your certificate and need proof of approval for a prospective job. In that case, you may reach out to the New York State Library for assistance at the email address provided above.