North Carolina Public Librarian Certification Guide - 2024

by Staff

Updated: August 23rd, 2022

Licensor: SLNC

The State of North Carolina has approximately 400 public libraries. To better serve its residents, the state created a commission to oversee the operation and standards of the library system. The intention was to guarantee that all citizens of North Carolina had access to a high-quality public library. They would do this by ensuring the protection and maintenance of public library resources and employing qualified professionals and administration. 

The Commission ensures top-quality librarians by administering a certification process. This program helps drive consistency across the talent employed by the various library branches across North Carolina. The process to become a librarian in the State of North Carolina is relatively straightforward as long as you meet the specific requirements and criteria before you apply. 

North Carolina Public Librarian Certification Guide

The Public Librarian Certification identifies individuals who have met the criteria to work in professional-level positions within the State Library of North Carolina system. There is only one certification level available, so it will be valid for any position that requires certification. Once an applicant has been awarded the certification, there is no expiration date or need to maintain the certification through additional continuing education. 

Education Requirements

In order to apply for the Public Librarian Certification, you must obtain a graduate-level degree in library and information science from a program that is accredited by the American Library Association. Some regionally accredited programs of higher education in North Carolina are also eligible. 

As a part of your degree, you must have completed coursework in the following four areas — Cataloging, Reference, Collection Development, and Library Management.

  • Cataloging – An introduction to the principles of organizing bibliographies, library catalogs, and collections. Relevant courses include Organizing Information, Creating Information Infrastructures, Information Structures, and Introduction to Knowledge Organization. 
  • Reference – Fundamental knowledge and skills to help connect users with information through understanding the history of reference services, search strategies, and the use of information resources. Relevant courses include Information Sources and Services, Information Access, Serving Information Needs, and Reference and User Services. 
  • Collection Development – Teaches students how to identify, evaluate, and select both printed and digital materials for access. Relevant courses include Collection Development and Management, Developing Library Collections, and Management of Information Collections. 
  • Library Management – Coursework covers the basics of library operations and management including administration principles, budgeting, planning, leadership, and resource management. Relevant courses include Library Management, Administration of Libraries, and Organizational Management. 

Find all Library and Information Science degree programs in North Carolina.

Experience Requirements

Applying for the Public Librarian Certification does not require any prior work experience. However, individual jobs within the North Carolina public library system may have experience requirements to apply. According to the North Carolina public library job page, most jobs fall into two categories — professional and paraprofessional. Professional-level positions require a master’s degree in Library Science (MLS) which makes you eligible for the Public Librarian Certification. Paraprofessional positions do not require a Public Librarian Certification. 

You do not have to obtain your Public Librarian Certification prior to applying for library jobs. The only requirement is that you meet the minimum requirements in order to apply and obtain the certification upon employment. 

Testing Requirements

There is no test associated with North Carolina’s Public Librarian Certification. However, you will need to complete any test or exam that is associated with the university program that you select to complete your education requirements. 

Background Checks

Depending on the position, the Library of North Carolina may require background checks for employees. Where applicable, the library will cover the cost associated with a pre-employment background check. 

Application Process

The North Carolina Public Library uses a web-based form to accept applications for the Public Librarian Certification. There are no fees associated with the application. The application is broken into a few different sections. 

  • Personal Information – Applicants must provide their name, address, phone number, and email address. 
  • Graduate Education Information – This section is where applicants provide the name of the educational institution, degree program, and date awarded. 
  • Military Background – This is an optional section where applicants can identify themselves as having served in the military or being a military spouse. There are special exceptions granted to military personnel and spouses that allow them to transfer a library certification from another jurisdiction.  
  • Competencies – Applicants use this section to list out the title and number of the courses that satisfy the core competencies requirement. There is also space to add any other relevant coursework. 
  • Attachments – Applicants can also attach documents such as syllabi, military documentation, or resumes to the application. NOTE: Official transcripts should not be attached to the application. They must be sent directly to the Commission from the educational institution. Electronic transcripts are preferred to be received by email but mailed hard copies are also acceptable. The Commission will not accept photocopies of transcripts. 

Application Review and Approval

The Commission is required to hold monthly meetings to discuss policies and procedures regarding the administration of the Public Librarian Certification. During these meetings, all applications received prior to the meeting are reviewed. Once approved, the applicant will be notified that their certification has been awarded.