North Carolina School Librarian Certification Guide - 2024

AKA: Library Media Coordinator Certification, Initial Professional License, Continuing Professional License

by Staff

Updated: August 23rd, 2022

Licensor: NC DPI

School librarian certification is the process one must undergo in order to work as a school librarian in North Carolina. Certification signifies extensive librarian experience, including book recommendations, literacy knowledge, research, and technology as well as teaching experience.

The certification education requirements train individuals wanting to become a school librarian so that they are prepared with the foundation of knowledge necessary to do their job up to a high standard. They need these sets of skills and knowledge to be effective in their role, whether this is through working with technology or helping students better understand how to find information for themselves.

This qualification will help protect and maintain resources in libraries, ensuring professional administration and management of these services. Of course, the certification process will also include background checks to screen applicants’ histories for any problems that would make them unfit to work with children.

Initial School Librarian Certification Guide

The technical name for school librarians in North Carolina is library media coordinators. Therefore, they must attain the Library Media Coordinator Certification.

The library media coordinator’s initial license lasts 3 years. You would then need to renew or update a continuing license.

Education Requirements

North Carolina requires all media coordinator applicants complete an approved media coordinator or library science program at a master’s degree level. School librarians also usually hold a teaching license as well as a master’s degree.

It can often be overwhelming to pick a school or program since there are so many different options to choose from. There are certain things to consider such as location, the quality of the school, and the cost of the program. Explore all the schools offering library and information science degree programs in North Carolina.

You’ll also want to choose a program that is recognised by the American Library Association, commonly abbreviated to the ALA. ALA accredited programs meet the licensure requirements for the majority of library positions in the United States, including North Carolina.

North Carolina currently issues a media coordinator license as part of the K-12 section, providing support to school children. This first license is only issued at postgraduate level or above. An initial professional educator’s license is issued to those who have completed an EPP but not satisfied the North Carolina State Board of Education (SBE) test requirements. A continuing licence is issued to individuals who have completed both the EPP and satisfied the SBE requirements.

Experience Requirements

It’s common for school librarian employers to demand some work experience from their candidates. This is a reasonable request since these candidates need to be professionals when working with children and complex technology – they need to execute the role to a high standard and be up to the job of maintaining professional library services.

Additionally, library and information science degree programs in North Carolina will include an internship, or fieldwork, component as part of the curriculum and is a requirement for a Continuing Professional License for media coordinators (school librarians).

Testing Requirements

Candidates are required to pass specific tests to become professional school librarians. In North Carolina, candidates must take the Praxis II Library Media Content Test, passing with a minimum score of 148. Praxis II tests evaluate your expertise in a specific subject and the level you are working at, relating to teaching skills. These types of tests are usually required to obtain a state teaching certification. Library media content tests are put in place to make sure that candidates are fully prepared to work as a library media specialist in the schools they apply for. They include multiple sections, testing your skills in different areas such as learning and teaching, program administration, and collection development.

The examination costs $120 to take the Praxis Library Media Specialist Exam. There are Praxis study guides available to prepare for the exam to give yourself the best chance of passing.

To turn an initial professional educator’s license into a continuing license, candidates will need to carry out content exams and performance/pedagogy assessments. To learn more, visit the Educational Testing Service (ETS).

Background Checks

Background checks are not required for certification when becoming a school librarian in North Carolina. However, employing school districts will require a background check when applying for positions. Employers need to be sure you are suitable for the responsibilities in this role and need to be assured that you are responsible rather than a danger to children.

Additionally, many library science programs will include a practicum, or internship, as part of their program. And through this requirement, students of the program will be required to submit to a criminal background check.

Application Process

To apply for certification, the process is quite simple. After completing an approved preparation program, you need to obtain some official documents to upload into your online application form. These can include your degree transcripts, previous work experience request forms, and verification forms by your educating institution.

You can then register and log in to your account to apply for a license. This can easily be done online with the NCDPI Online License System. You then need to upload all of the requested forms in the online application. Finally, you need to pay all the licensure fees. Applying for a professional educator’s license usually ranges from between $30 to $100.

The State Library of North Carolina holds commission meetings quarterly to review these applications as well as discussing certification procedures and policies. Click here to start the North Carolina registration.

Alternative School Librarian Certification

The NCSBE provides additional certification options for schools and districts who are in greater need for educators. These options allow for applicants to receive certification to teach or fill other educator roles prior to completing all of the requirements for regular professional media coordinator or educator certification.

The names of these licenses are as follows:

  • Residency License (RL)
  • Emergency License
  • Permit to Teach

Residency License

For the Residency License, candidates will need to have been enrolled in a North Carolina approved educator preparation program as well as have employment in North Carolina public schools. Applications for a Residency License should be submitted online through the NCDPI Online Licensure System by a North Carolina employing school system. It is a one-year license type and can be renewed twice. The individual seeking a Residency License must have a bachelor’s degree and completed coursework or an exam with content relevant to the licensure area. To hold this license, the candidate must have met all requirements set by the State Board. This includes completing pre-service requirements before teaching.

Emergency License & Permit to Teach

The Emergency License and Permit to Teach also require employment in North Carolina schools. These types of applications can also be submitted online in the same way as the Residency License. Both the Emergency License and Permit to Teach can allow the candidate to qualify for a one-year Residency License within three years. To obtain an Emergency License, individuals need a baccalaureate degree and eighteen hours of coursework that is relevant to the licensure area. They won’t have completed an EPP. Permit to Teach is also issued to candidates with a baccalaureate degree.

So, getting a postgraduate degree might not be the only option. However, master’s degrees are recommended since they provide more job opportunities in this area and an easier pathway toward Continuing Professional License for Media Coordinators.

Certification Renewal Process

As mentioned above, the initial professional educator’s license of North Carolina expires after 3 years. An initial license is non-renewable – you must then apply for a continuing professional license (CPL). To renew or update this type of license, you should earn 8 Continuing Education Units within the most recent 5-year period.

So, how do you actually renew the license? Courses for this desired renewal are available with different institutions, including universities and community colleges that are related to school librarian licensure. See library and information science degree programs in North Carolina.

With the license needing to be renewed every 5 years, you need to pass the criteria of having 8 units of renewable credit required to renew an expired CPL, and this renewal credit needs to be earned by the license expiration date. You can take the first step in renewing your license here.

Certification Reciprocity Process

This type of certification pathway is through the combination of a group of individual states agreeing upon a set of educator standards. It promises to issue forms of authorization allowing a certificate holder in one state to be granted a similar certification in another state, provided that the issued license is acceptable under this agreement. In more simple terms, states could have agreements with each other about education and testing requirements being equivalent between the two.

This is important for a school librarian, or library media coordinator, certifications as it helps clarify if their licenses will transfer to other states and if they will need additional requirements or not. The majority of US states have signed this interstate agreement, with North Carolina being one of the participants.

Therefore, a license given to a candidate by North Carolina should be recognised by other states and vice versa. However, interstate reciprocity isn’t automatic, and individuals will still need to apply for a new license in the state they are moving to.

So, if you’re thinking about a career change into becoming a school librarian in North Carolina, this guide will give you a better idea of the certification process.

Certification is challenging by nature and is why extensive qualifications are needed for this role, including further study in a master’s degree to obtain advanced skills, specific tests to check your knowledge in particular areas, and required renewal of the continuing professional certification every 5 years.

But don’t let the process of certifying yourself as a school librarian put you off. The process of becoming educated and learning of the multitude of library technologies and working with children can be great fun too!