Oklahoma Public Librarian Certification Guide - 2022

Last Reviewed: November 18th, 2021

Licensor: Oklahoma Libraries

The State of Oklahoma has 214 public libraries branches across the state. The Oklahoma Library Association and Oklahoma Department of Libraries have worked together to appoint a group to oversee a series of certifications to ensure that library staff and administration meet the highest quality standards. This Certification Implementation Committee established and maintains the guidelines that drive the program. The goals of the certification program include:

  • Improving library service throughout the State of Oklahoma.
  • Motivating public librarians to develop their skills through continuing education.
  • Recognizing public librarians who consistently update their knowledge and skills.
  • Improving the public image of libraries and librarians.
  • Providing guidelines to public library boards on selecting and retaining personnel.
  • Aiding in structuring librarian education programs.

In addition to the certifications, the state also operates a robust librarian education program (Institute in Public Librarianship) that provides both basic and continuing education courses. 

Oklahoma Public Librarian Certification Guide

Obtaining the Oklahoma Public Librarian Certification is voluntary in most cases, but the Oklahoma Library Association and the Oklahoma Department of Libraries highly encourage library staff to participate in the certification program. Some local library boards may require certification for elevated positions such as directors or branch heads. 

The Public Librarian Certification has 7 levels. These levels do not have to be completed in sequential order and are not considered a career path. Individuals may choose to obtain additional training or education without seeking to advance their certification level. 

Level 1

To qualify for Level 1 certification, applicants must successfully complete the Institute in Public Librarianship coursework. 

Level 2

To qualify for Level 2 certification, applicants must meet ONE of the following criteria:

  • Certificate or Associate degree for library technical assistants.
  • Six semester hours from an accredited college or university.
  • Three years of library experience and completion of Institute of Public Librarianship coursework. 

Level 3

To qualify for Level 3 certification, applicants must meet ONE of the following criteria:

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university and completion of Institute of Public Librarianship coursework.
  • Five years of library experience and completion of Institute of Public Librarianship coursework.
  • Certificate or Associate degree for library technical assistants and have five years of library experience.
  • Completion of the American Library Association’s Library Support Staff Certification program. 

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Level 4

To qualify for Level 4 certification, applicants must meet ONE of the following criteria:

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university with a major in library/information science.
  • Non-ALA accredited master’s degree in library/information science from an accredited university.
  • Master’s degree in a subject field other than library/information science from an accredited university as long as the degree includes a minimum of 15 upper-division or graduate semester hours of library/information science coursework.

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Level 5

To qualify for Level 5 certification, applicants must obtain a master’s degree in library/ information science from an ALA-credited university program. 

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Level 6

To qualify for Level 6 certification, applicants must obtain a master’s degree in library/ information science from an ALA-credited university program and have three years of library experience.

Level 7

To qualify for Level 7 certification, applicants must meet ONE of the following criteria:

  • Master’s degree in library/ information science from an ALA-credited university program and have six years of library experience (three must be in administrative experience).
  • Master’s degree in library/ information science from an ALA-credited university program and a certificate of advanced study and have five years of library experience (three must be administrative experience). 

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Director or Administrator Requirements

There are certification requirements for high-level directors and administrators depending on the number of people in the community that they serve. For example, directors serving a population between 5,000 and 9,999 should at a minimum hold a Level 4 certification. Directors who serve a population between 100,000 and 149,000 should have a Level 5 certification. 

These guidelines are a minimum. Some libraries may have additional requirements for their staff. This decision is at the discretion of the local library leadership. 

Institute in Public Librarianship

The Institute in Public Librarianship is a series of classes that are offered by the Oklahoma Department of Libraries. The series includes basic and advanced level classes. Basic classes can be taken to qualify for Levels 1, 2, or 3. Advanced courses may be taken to earn continuing education credits (and with special approval to qualify for the higher-level certifications). Each class is three to six hours long and is held at various locations throughout the state.  

To complete the basic Institute of Public Librarianship coursework, participants must complete the following eight classes: Collection Development, Computers and Electronic Resources, Current Trends and Legislation Affecting Public Libraries, How to Think Like a Librarian, Interpersonal Skills, Public Library Administration, Services for Adults, and Services for Youth. 

Advanced classes include Library Management, Personal & Interpersonal Development, Technical Services, Technology, and Community Relations. 

Application Process

The application process includes filling out a paper form and sending it to the Oklahoma Department of Libraries for review and approval. Applicants should include official copies of their transcripts or diploma (photocopies are not acceptable), Institute of Public Librarianship completion, and employment records. The application fee is $20, and checks should be payable to the Oklahoma Library Association. 

The application itself is relatively short. Applicants must provide personal information (name, address, phone number), current position and library of employment, and which certification level they are requesting. 

Certification Renewal

All certifications are good for three years. There is no fee to renew your certification, however, you do have to fill out a renewal application. The renewal application is nearly identical to the original certification application. In addition to the renewal application, you have to provide the details of all completed continuing education credits. Certification renewal requires a minimum of 4 CEUs (which equates to 40 hours of continuing education) or three hours of approved college coursework. 

Find all Library and Information Science degree programs in Oklahoma.