New York School Librarian Certification Guide - 2022

AKA: Library Media Specialist Licensure

Last Reviewed: August 23rd, 2022

Licensor: NY SED

Eager to begin a career as a public school librarian in the Empire State? While some states consider library science an add-on to a teaching license, New York seeks highly qualified candidates who demonstrate advanced knowledge and competency in library science. 

Librarians are often mentors to classroom teachers in New York. According to the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), one-third of all school librarians train teachers on accessing and analyzing digital content.

As a custodian of information and knowledge, a public school librarian serves as a docent to students and teachers. A librarian must guide stakeholders in accessing and retrieving resources found within a school library. Moreover, librarians should be adaptive and socially innovative. They summon problem-solving, reading, and information technology skills when performing their duties.

New York school teachers can transition from the classroom to become a librarian. But many school librarians in New York undertake a library science undergraduate curriculum rather than pursue generic teacher licensure. 

Indeed, for permanent certification, the New York State Education Department (NYSED) requires librarians to hold a Master’s degree in Library Information Science. Note NYSED does not necessarily oblige public school librarians to possess a teaching certificate. Also, NYSED follows a two-step process when certifying public school librarians. Candidates must first secure a provisional license before becoming eligible for permanent certification.

For librarians wondering about job prospects in New York, the state is second to only California in the total number of employed librarians and annual mean wage. New York law stipulates all public schools, both elementary and secondary, to “establish and maintain” a library. However, neither charter schools nor public elementary schools are required to have a certified librarian.

Initial School Librarian Certification Process

First, “New York State teachers, administrators, and pupil personnel service providers are required to hold a New York State certificate for employment in the State’s public schools.” The rudiments of becoming a librarian are:

  • Fulfill certification requirements
  • Submit an application
  • Submit supporting documents
  • Pay the appropriate fee to NYSED

Those interested in becoming public school librarians will find multiple paths to certification. NYSED describes pathways to librarian certification for the following candidate profiles:

Source: NYSED; accessed August 27, 2021, Fair Use

NYSED offers an online “Search Certification Requirements” feature specifying requisites for “Library Media Specialists.” Use the site’s drop-down menus, populating the fields with the following information, to reveal the following pathways for public school librarian certification: 

  • Select an Area of Interest: CLASSROOM TEACHER
  • Select a Subject Area: LIBRARY SCIENCE
  • Select a Grade Level: PRE K-12 — ALL GRADES
  • Select a Title: LIBRARY MEDIA SPECIALIST
  • Select a Type of Certificate: (Options Include) 
    • CONDITIONAL INITIAL (1 Year)
      • Completion Of A Comparable Educator Program In Another U.S. State
    • EMERGENCY COVID-19
      • Individual Evaluation 
    • INITIAL CERTIFICATE 
      • Approved Teacher Preparation Program 05/01/2014
      • Approved Teacher Prep Program Trans B Certificate Progression
      • Approved Teacher Prep Program — Additional Certificate
      • Individual Evaluation
      • Additional Classroom Teaching Certificate (Must hold a valid certificate)
      • Endorsement of a Certificate
      • Completion Of a Comparable Educator Program In Another U.S. State
      • Institute of Higher Education (IHE) Professor Experience
      • Trans G Certificate Progression
      • National Board Certification
    • INITIAL REISSUANCE 
      • Individual Evaluation
    • INTERNSHIP CERTIFICATE
      • Approved Teacher Preparation Program 05/01/2014 
    • PROFESSIONAL CERTIFICATE
      • Approved Teacher Preparation Program 05/01/2014
      • Approved Teacher Prep Program — Certificate Progression
      • Approved Teacher Prep Program — Additional Certificate
      • Individual Evaluation
      • Additional Classroom Teaching Certificate (Must hold a valid certificate)
      • Certificate Progression
    • SUPPLEMENTARY CERTIFICATE 
      • Additional Classroom Teaching Certificate (must hold a valid certificate)
    • TRANSITIONAL B CERTIFICATE
      • Approved Teacher Preparation Program 05/01/2014 
    • TRANSITIONAL C CERTIFICATE 
      • Approved Teacher Preparation Program 05/01/2014
    • TRANSITIONAL G CERTIFICATE 
      • Individual Evaluation
    • TRANSITIONAL J CERTIFICATE
      • Individual Evaluation

Each pathway follows specific certification requirements; some pathways have more extensive criteria than others. The Emergency COVID-19 and the Transitional B Certificates, for instance, have pathways with relatively few provisions. Conversely, the Individual Evaluation pathway — a trajectory for the Initial and Professional certificate — has numerous provisions. 

Education Requirements

As noted in the Introduction, NYSED requires certified librarians to hold a Master’s degree in Library Science. However, many pathways allow lesser-credentialed candidates to begin the certification process. 

For example, the Individual Evaluation pathway for the Initial Certificate and the Professional Certificate stipulates a Bachelor’s degree with a minimum 2.5 undergraduate GPA. Coursework must include 30 semester hours in one of the following Liberal Arts and Science core curriculum:

  • Artistic Expression
  • Communication
  • Information Retrieval
  • Humanities
  • Language other than English (including American Sign Language)
  • Written Analysis and Expression
  • Concepts in Historical and Social Sciences
  • Scientific Processes
  • Mathematical Processes

Additionally, NYSED requires 30 semester hours of graduate coursework in Library Science. For a pedagogical core, a candidate must take 21 semester hours among the following categories:

  • Human Development and Learning
  • Enhancing the Learning of Students with Disabilities
  • Increasing the Literacy Skills of All Students (6 semester hours)
  • Planning and delivering school library and media services.
  • Foundations of Education

Other educational requirements for the Individual Evaluation pathway in these two certificates call for a college-supervised practicum of 20 days for elementary and secondary library media specialists.

Experience Requirements

Most pathways leading to the Professional Certificate require three years of full-time classroom teaching. These pathways are:

  • Approved Teacher Prep Program — Additional Certificate
  • Approved Teacher Prep Program — Certificate Progression
  • Individual Evaluation
  • Additional Classroom Teaching Certificate (must hold a valid certificate) 
  • Certification Progression

The App Prep Program Trans C Cert Prog (completed on or after 5/1/2014) and the Approved Teacher Preparation Program 05/01/2014 pathways to the Professional Certificate require three years of full-time classroom teaching as a library media specialist.

Additionally, the Professional Certificate prescribes mentored experience for the following pathways:

  • Approved Teacher Preparation Program 05/01/2014,
  • App Prep Program Trans C Cert Prog (completed on or after 5/1/2014) Approved Teacher Prep Program — Additional Certificate
  • Approved Teacher Prep Program — Certificate Progression
  • Individual Evaluation; one year
  • Additional Classroom Teaching Certificate (must hold a valid certificate); one year
  • Certificate Progression; one year

The Initial Certificate has two pathways requiring experience:

  • IHE Professor Experience; two years of paid, post-secondary experience teaching library science
  • Trans G Certificate Progression; two years teaching experience under a valid Transitional G Certificate

The Transitional G Certificate requires two years of paid, post-secondary teaching experience.

The Initial Reissuance Certificate specifies less than three years of full-time classroom teaching. This certificate stipulates the completion of 50 hours of “acceptable professional learning” and/or the Continuing Teacher and Leader Education (CTLE) test within one year of the application date. Also, applicants must retake and pass relevant CST(s) within one year of the application date.

Testing Requirements

Testing requirements vary according to certificate and pathway. 

Many pathways (viz., Trans G Certificate Progression, IHE Professor Experience, Completion of a Comparable Educator Program in Another U.S. State, Individual Evaluation, Approved Teacher Prep Program Trans B Certificate Progression, and Approved Teacher Preparation Program 05/01/2014) require candidates to pass the Educating All Students (EAS) test. This assessment is part of the New York State Teacher Certification Examinations.

Most pathways appoint the candidate to pass a Content Specialty Test (CST) for library media specialists. Exceptions are Endorsement of a Certificate, IHE Professor Experience, Trans G Certificate Progression, and National Board Certification pathways.

Another test requirement of many pathways (viz., Approved Teacher Preparation Program 05/01/2014, Approved Teacher Prep Program Trans B Certificate Progression, Individual Evaluation, App Prep Program Trans C Cert Prog [completed on or after 5/1/2014], and Completion of a Comparable Educator Program in Another U.S. State) is to score at least 38 on the library media specialist edTPA.

Additionally, the Initial Reissuance certificate stipulates the completion of 50 hours of “acceptable professional learning” and/or the Continuing Teacher and Leader Education (CTLE) test within one year of the application date. 

Background Checks

All pathways to all certificate types impose fingerprint clearance, including the Initial Reissuance Certificate. MorphoTrust/IDEMIA is the only vendor NYSED uses to capture fingerprints. When scheduling an appointment with MorphoTrust/IDEMIA for fingerprinting, applicants must use the service code “14ZGQT”.

Applicants schedule their fingerprinting appointment by either going online or calling MorphoTrust/IDEMIA at 877-472-6915. Applicants must bring valid (unexpired) identification when fingerprinted. All fingerprints are digitally scanned. Also, international applicants cannot have their fingerprints transmitted from outside the U.S to New York state.

MorphoTrust/IDEMIA accepts only coupons/voucher codes from NYSED’s No Charge Authorization Code (NCAC) account when the applicant schedules an appointment for fingerprinting. Should the applicant pay the fee when fingerprinted, MorphoTrust/IDEMIA accepts credit/debit cards, checks (payable to IDEMIA, or the NCAC account coupon/voucher code. Currently, the total fingerprinting fee is $102.

Application Process

Librarian applicants start the application process by first creating an NY.gov TEACH account. Applicants with an NY.gov account from another state agency use a separate portal. For assistance using TEACH, see this webpage.

Documents submitted to the Office of Teaching Initiatives (OTI; an NYSED agency) include:

  • College transcripts
  • college credit by exam score report (e.g., CLEP, etc.)
  • diplomas
  • foreign credentials for education completed outside the U.S.
  • certification exam scores
  • mentoring requirements
  • workshops (see Section VI below)
  • verification of teaching, educational leadership, and pupil personnel service experience
  • educator certificates from other U.S. states or U.S. territories
  • National Board Teaching certificate 
  • name change documents

“Acceptable” documents include:

Applicants should direct questions regarding their transcripts and scores to tcert@nysed.gov. Address documents sent by the U.S. Postal Service to:

New York State Education Department
Office of Teaching Initiatives
89 Washington Ave, 5N EB
Albany, NY  12234

Note that the OTI does not accept visitors. Applicants may submit documents at a drop box located at the security desk. However, they will not be processed more quickly than documents submitted digitally through TEACH. Official transcripts from institutions of higher education must be in sealed envelopes.

Certification Renewal Procedure

Starting May 20, 2020, the Initial Certificate and the Initial Reissuance Certificate are valid for five years. If an applicant on a pathway to the Professional Certificate has not satisfied program requirements within this interval, he or she — depending upon circumstances — may apply for a one-time three-year time extension. The extension starts the day following the certification expiration date — not when the extension is proffered.  

Applicants must meet specific and narrow conditions during the validity of the expired or about-to-expire certificate to qualify for a time extension. 

The Professional Certificate is continuously valid, subject to the completion of the mandatory CTLE during the five-year duration of the certificate. The five-year duration starts once the certificate holder becomes “registered.” After July 1, 2016, certificants are automatically registered for their initial five-year registration period. This period starts the first day of the month the certification is issued and expires at the end of the month before the certificant’s birth month in the fifth year.

Certification Reciprocity Process

NYSED does not pre-approve completed educator prep programs from other U.S. states or territories. Librarians who fulfilled a “comparable” educator prep program at a regionally accredited college or university outside New York and hold a valid, comparable library media specialist certification from another U.S. state or territory must apply for the Conditional Initial Certificate, valid for one year.

The OTI determines certification eligibility only after the submission and review of an application. After the expiry of the Conditional Initial Certification, librarians must pursue certification following one of the Initial Certificate pathways.  

Licensing Fees

Refer to the following table for NYSED fees:

Application Fees

Fee Amount

Application Type

$50 per certificate title

Professional, Initial, Transitional B & C Certificate or Extension based on completion of a State registered, approved preparation program and college recommendation 

$100 per certificate title

Professional, Initial, Initial Reissuance, Transitional G & J Certificate or Extension based on Individual Evaluation

$50

Time Extension of a Provisional, Initial, or Transitional Certificate (non-refundable) 

Source: NYPED

Miscellany

Additionally, depending upon pathway and certificate, applicants may be required to participate in various workshops. 

  1. The Conditional (1 Year) Certificate, the Emergency COVID-19 Certificate, the Initial Reissuance Certificate, and the Transitional J Certificate require completion of Child Abuse Identification, School Violence and Prevention, and Dignity for All Students Act workshops.
  • All Initial Certificate pathways require completion of the Dignity for All Students Act workshop. Additionally, the Individual Evaluation, Additional Classroom Teaching Certificate (must hold a valid certificate), Endorsement of A Certificate, Completion Of A Comparable Educator Program In Another U.S. State, IHE Professor Experience, Trans G Certificate Progression, and National Board Certification pathways require Child Abuse Prevention and School Violence Intervention and Prevention workshops.
  • The Internship Certificate, the Supplementary Certificate, and the Transitional B, C, and G Certificates all require the Dignity for All Students Act workshop.
  • All Professional Certificate pathways require completion of the Dignity for All Students Act workshop. Additionally, the Individual Evaluation, Additional Classroom Teaching Certificate (must hold a valid certificate), and Certificate Progression pathways require the School Violence Intervention and Prevention and the Child Abuse Identification workshops.

Finally, all applicants must be U.S. citizens or hold permanent INS residency status. Some pathways may require school district recommendations.