Ohio Public Librarian Certification Guide - 2023
AKA: Ohio Public Librarian Certification, Ohio Public Library Staff Certification
What's Here? - Table of Contents
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.