Ohio Public Librarian Certification Guide - 2022

AKA: Ohio Public Librarian Certification, Ohio Public Library Staff Certification

Last Reviewed: August 23rd, 2022

The State of Ohio is home to 251 public library systems comprised of 481 individual branches. These library branches employ over 9,000 workers. For people looking to start or enhance their library career, an official certification can be obtained to validate that they meet all the necessary requirements to become a librarian. 

Certifications are provided by the Ohio Library Council (OLC), a statewide professional association dedicated to overseeing the regulations, policies, and procedures for library operations across the state. The Ohio Library Council is governed by a board of directors that includes a combination of library employees, library trustees, and OLC members. 

The Council has four main objectives:

  1. Ensure that Ohio public libraries received adequate funding. 
  2. Develop high-quality public library administration and staff. 
  3. Position the Ohio Library Council as the leading authority on library services in Ohio.
  4. Maintain a structure that is flexible to meet the needs of the community and also ensure the organization’s success. 

To meet their second goal, the OLC has created a process by which qualified candidates can apply and receive a certification validating their education and professional backgrounds. If you are interested in pursuing a career as a librarian or working in library administration, you will need to secure one of the certifications offered by the Ohio Library Council.  

Ohio Public Librarian Certification Guide

The Ohio Library Council offers two different certifications — the Ohio Public Librarian Certification and the Ohio Public Library Staff Certification. The certification that a candidate selects will depend on their career goals, educational background, and job history. 

The Ohio Public Library Staff Certification is geared more toward entry-level or early-career positions. The Ohio Public Librarian Certification is for more experienced professionals. 

In either case, the certification is good for 5 years and must be renewed to remain active. 

Education Requirements

The biggest difference between the two certifications is the education requirements. The Ohio Public Librarian Certification requires applicants to have obtained a master’s degree in Library Information Studies from a program accredited by the American Library Association. The Ohio Public Library Staff Certification only requires a high school diploma (or equivalent) plus 10 hours of approved continuing education experience within the last two years. 

Find all Library and Information Science degree programs in Ohio.

Experience Requirements

For both certifications, the applicant must have at least two years of experience working in a library. Some entry-level positions within the library system do not require certification such as internships. This is a great place to start for someone who is fresh out of college. 

Testing Requirements

The Ohio Library Council does not have a testing requirement for either of their certifications. However, candidates will need to pass any exams that are required as a part of their degree program to meet the education requirements. 

Background Checks

The Ohio public library may or may not require background checks for employment candidates. A law signed into effect by Governor John Kasich in 2015 (HB 56) prohibits state agencies and political subdivisions from including questions regarding criminal background on employment applications. However, this law does not prohibit the requirement of background checks once the applicant has moved forward in the process. The OLC legal counsel confirmed this by stating that libraries reserve the right to complete background checks on any selected candidate. 

OLC Membership

Library employees interested in getting access to education resources and an extensive network of library professionals can become a member of the Ohio Library Council. The organization attempts to make membership attainable for everyone by offering membership dues that are tied to the member’s income. 

The membership dues range from $25 (for students, retirees, and people making under $10,000) to $150 (for people making over $90,000). You can also opt to pay $1,000 to gain a lifetime membership. 

One of the perks of joining the OLC is discounted rates for certifications and certification renewals. 

Application Process

The application for either certification is a paper form that applicants must print, fill out, and mail to the Ohio Library Council. At the top of the form, you can select whether you are applying for a new certification or a renewal. The form consists of two main sections — personal information and payment information. 

  • Applicant Information – In this section, applicants provide their name, OLC membership number, current title, library name where they work, email address, and phone number.
  • Payment Information – Applicants have the option to pay with a check or by providing their credit card information on the form. For existing library employees, there is an option for the application fee to be billed directly to the library branch. 

Application Fees

  • Ohio Public Librarian Certification – Application fee of $25 ($50 for non-OLC members)
  • Ohio Public Library Staff Certification – Application Fee of $15 ($30 for non-OLC members)

Any supporting documentation such as transcripts or information related to professional background should be submitted with the application and payment. All submitted applications are reviewed and approved by the Professional Development Committee (PDC) that is appointed by the OLC board of directors. 

Certification Renewal

After five years, you will need to renew your certification to keep it valid. The renewal process uses the same form as the original application. Simply check the box at the top of the form indicating that it is a renewal application. 

Continuing Education Credits & Fees

In addition to the form, you will need to submit a log of all of the continuing education activities that you have completed over the prior five years. The OLC provides a template log at the end of the application. There is a minimum number of continuing education credits that you need to complete depending on the certification that you are planning to renew.

  • Ohio Public Librarian Certification – Renewal applicants must complete 75 continuing education hours within 5 years. The renewal fee is $25 ($35 for non-OLC members).
  • Ohio Public Library Staff Certification – Renewal applicants must complete 50 continuing education hours within 5 years. The renewal fee is $15 ($25 for non-OLC members)

Tip – To help keep you organized, you should print out the continuing education log when you first get your certification and regularly keep the log up to date. This will help you avoid having to try and remember all of the coursework and seminars that you attended over the 5-year period.