Pennsylvania Public Librarian Certification Guide - 2024

AKA: Library Assistant, Provisional Librarian, Professional Librarian

by Staff

Updated: August 23rd, 2022

To become a public librarian in Pennsylvania, you must first undergo a certification process. The role of public librarians has shifted with the evolution of technology, and certification ensures that all public librarians adhere to certain standards as these changes continue to take place. 

All local libraries, library systems, and district library centers that receive state aid need to have their staff certified. Certification recognizes qualified professionals for the specific skills, background, and education they’re required to have to do their jobs well. It also allows for cooperation and arrangements with larger service areas.

Librarian certification helps library staff members to better serve patrons in the many roles they play, from organizing community programs to managing personnel. The steps to get certified vary among states, but this guide will tell you everything you need to know about becoming a certified public librarian in the state of Pennsylvania.

Whether you’re a new library staff member who hasn’t yet been certified or you’re someone looking to make a career change by becoming a librarian, this guide will help you find your way.

Pennsylvania Public Librarian Certification Guide

There are three different levels of public librarian certification in the state of Pennsylvania: library assistant, provisional librarian, and professional librarian. Each level has its own process for certification, but they all involve filling out an application, sitting for an exam, and completing specific certification requirements.

After you obtain certification, you’ll remain certified as long as you remain in the same category of position you held at the time you were certified. If you move into a new position in a different category, you’ll need to obtain a new certification.

Education Requirements

To become a certified public librarian in Pennsylvania, you must complete certain education requirements. These requirements vary depending on the type of certification you are seeking. 

To obtain certification as a library assistant, you must have completed at least 2 years of college education and 9 credit hours of a library science course. 

If your goal is to become certified as a provisional librarian, you must have a bachelor’s degree from a 4-year college or university, and you need to have completed at least 12 credit hours of a library science course.

Finally, if you want to become a certified professional librarian, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree from a 4-year college or university as well as a master’s degree in library science.

When it comes to searching for the right school or program, the American Library Association (ALA) accreditation is a great place to start. Search for all Library and Information Science degree program in Pennsylvania.

Experience Requirements

Because public librarians must work with complex technology, manage library staff, and help library patrons, candidates should have experience that has prepared them for such a role. 

While there is no specific experience required to become a certified public librarian in Pennsylvania, any relevant work experience will help make you a better candidate for the job. Some examples of work experience that would help bolster your application include:

  • Interning or volunteering at a library
  • Volunteering to read to the elderly or visually impaired
  • Any job that required you to provide excellent customer service
  • Management roles in which you oversaw other staff members

If you are making a drastic career change and would like to become a certified public librarian, it may be worthwhile to take the time to gain some experience and skills. 

Testing Requirements

The Pennsylvania Department of Education provides up-to-date testing information for all certifications. The test requirements and qualifying scores are subject to change. For certification in Library Science, you must take the Library Media Specialist Test. You can register for this test using the link in the spreadsheet.

Background Checks

Background checks are important for all Certified Public Librarians to complete for the safety and wellbeing of our community. 

During the application process, you will be asked some Background Questions. You must respond to every question on the page. After you’ve answered all questions, check the Affidavit to verify all statements are correct and true. 

If you answer No to all of the Background Questions, you do not need to submit any additional clearance documentation. However, if you answer Yes to any of the questions, you must mail additional documents along with your TIMS coversheet. You can find these additional required documents in the Department of Education’s Help and User Guide – Background section.

Application Process

To apply for certification, library directors and staff must submit an application to the Pennsylvania Department of Education. You must complete the application online through the Teacher Information Management System (TIMS).

If you’ve never used TIMS before, follow these steps:

  1. Go to
  2. Hover over ‘Educators’ in the top horizontal navigation bar.
  3. Click ‘Certification’ in the dropdown menu that appears.
  4. Click the large green ‘TIMS Educator Online Certification System’ box in the middle of the page.
  5. Indicate that you are a Personal User.
  6. You’ll then see two important links. One is the Login to TIMS link, while the other is a Help and User Guide section which provides more helpful information about the certification process. Select ‘Login to TIMS’ to proceed to the application portal.
  7. Next, you’ll be taken to a new screen that asks for your username and password. To register for a username and password, click the link that says, ‘Create Keystone Login Account.’ Important Note: This link only works when you access it from the ‘TIMS – For Personal Users’ page.
  8. After you’ve registered, return to the login page to enter your credentials, and then click ‘Login.’
  9. When you log into TIMS for the first time, you will need to complete your TIMS profile.

After you’ve completed your profile and have access to your TIMS dashboard, you’ll be able to apply for certification. To do so, click the button that reads, “New Credential Application” in the left-hand section titled “Applications in Progress.”

Next, select the Credential Type and Requested Subject Area for your application. If you’re unsure, please refer to the Certificates in PA.

You’ll then need to answer a few questions to categorize your application. For help answering these questions, refer to the Help and User Guide – New Credential Application section.

After you’ve completed all these preliminary details, you can proceed through the application. You’ll be asked to provide information for some Background Questions, Demographic Details, Education, Certification, and Work Experience.

Finally, you’ll be asked to submit your payment. The application fee is $200 and can be paid with a credit card or money order.

After you’ve submitted your application, you will receive an email that contains your TIMS coversheet. This will include instructions for submitting your documents to the Pennsylvania Department of Education. 

To upload your documents, click “Home” at the top of your TIMS page, and select your application from the “Applications in Progress” section. After you’ve located your application, look in the far right column. You will see a link that says “Upload Documents.” If the upload option is unavailable for a specific document you need to include, you can submit documents through the mail.

Near the “Upload Documents” link, you’ll also find a “Track Progress” link which allows you to check the status of your application. You can find the meanings of different application statuses in the accompanying Help and User Guide – Status section.