Pennsylvania School Librarian Certification Guide - 2022

AKA: Library Science Certification

Last Reviewed: November 18th, 2021

Licensor: PA DOE

State school librarians are one of the many unsung heroes of the education department. More than just recommending books and keeping track of library materials, they are an invaluable participant in a child’s education journey. They must also be skilled in teaching, understand IT, be able to foster a nurturing environment, and provide leadership to students young and old.

Becoming a certified state school librarian in Pennsylvania requires a number of qualifications and a certain level of experience. Below, we’ve compiled a useful introduction to guide you through the process to become a qualified state school librarian in Pennsylvania.

Why is Certification Necessary?

To many, a school librarian does not seem like the kind of job that would require a great deal of qualification to perform. However, and especially today, it is in reality a multi-faceted task that requires applicants to have knowledge and expertise in a number of fields.

Librarian certification in Pennsylvania is granted along with all other teaching certifications via the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Certification serves a number of useful functions:

  • Ensuring a minimum standard of knowledge, expertise, and experience has been met. This includes completing specific education milestones such as achieving a relevant Masters degree, and undergoing at least a minimum amount of practical experience.
  • Protecting vulnerable children from persons who are unsafe to work with them through the use of police background checks. Criminal background checks are a part of certification and help to screen out undesirable candidates.
  • Protecting job security and wages by limiting the supply of librarians through a detailed certification process. By preventing just anyone from applying for a librarian position, it keeps the role limited to skilled, qualified individuals.

Librarians today are expected to perform services such as teaching, leadership, help with information technology, and computer literacy. On top of this, they also must know how to successfully run and organize a library, including not just its books but other education resources as well.

Ultimately, being a state school librarian in Pennsylvania is an involved task which requires a great deal of training to perform effectively.

Pennsylvania School Librarian Certification Process

Before applying to be certified, an applicant must have relevant qualifications and experience, and be able to prove such. Additionally an existing teaching license is required, as this is considered a teaching position. Certification as a public librarian does not qualify someone to work as a Pennsylvania school librarian.

A successful applicant for a Pennsylvania school librarian certification will receive the Library Science certification added to their teaching certification. 

This certification is valid for 5 years.

Education Requirements

Unlike many states, Pennsylvania does not require a Master’s degree in order to be a state school librarian. That said, a Master’s or post-baccalaureate program that includes an education component can be helpful in obtaining certification.

If your existing qualification doesn’t contain an education component, you must complete a preparation program that includes a student teaching component. The only two universities who currently provide complete certification programs for state school librarians are Kutztown University of Pennsylvania and the University of Pittsburgh.

Experience Requirements

Nothing can prepare you for running a school library quite like getting your hands dirty, so to speak. Practical experience is a crucial part of state school librarian certification, and is included in the certification preparation programs. Typically one will complete at least 3 hours of practicum experience as part of the course, although this can be more. The student education component also provides practical experience of working directly with children.

Testing Requirements

Not all states require testing for state school librarian certification. However, as Pennsylvania does not require a specific degree for application, such as a Master’s of Library Science, they do require at least two tests from librarian applicants:

Exact Praxis I tests will be determined by your existing education and qualifications. The Praxis II test costs $120.

Background Checks

Background checks are performed on all educators seeking certification in Pennsylvania. This is done to protect children from those who are deemed unfit to work with children due to criminal behavior in the past. 

The Pennsylvania Department of Education requires three background checks:

  • Department of Human Services Child Abuse History Clearance
  • Pennsylvania State Police Request for Criminal Records Check
  • Federal Criminal History Record Information (CHRI)

Fingerprint-based background checks are a multi-step process:

  1. Registration – The applicant must register prior to going to the fingerprint site. While walk-ins are available, pre-enrolment online or via phone is necessary. You can pre-enroll online here, or by phone at 1-844-321-2101 Monday through Friday, 8am to 6pm EST.
  2. Payment – A fee of $23.85 is charged for the fingerprint service. This fee also secures an unofficial copy of the Criminal History Record.
  3. Fingerprinting – Once registered, a complete list of fingerprint locations can be found here. Applicants need to attend one of these sites and follow the procedures for formal fingerprinting.
  4. Report Access – The applicant presents their UEID to the school or hiring entity. The UEID is used as it is not linked to any school, but rather the applicant’s number and so can be accessed by multiple entities.

Application Process

School educator certification, including for state school librarians, is conducted through the Teacher Information Management System, or TIMS.

You will need your social security number, a valid credit card, and documentation to prove your qualifications. The application fee is $200  – this is a non-refundable fee that does not guarantee certification.

  • Sign up to TIMS.
  • Find the Librarian Science certification.
  • Pay the application fee.
  • Submit the relevant documentation.

The application is considered complete once PDE has received all relevant documentation. The processing time can vary depending on volume of applications, but updates are available through TIMS. Applicants will be contacted whether they are approved or not.

Certification Renewal

Teachers in Pennsylvania must renew their license every 5 years. In order to maintain a valid teaching certificate, they must have:

  • Six credits of collegiate study;
  • Six in-service credits, as approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education; 
  • 180 hours of continuing education programs, through a PDE-approved provider;
  • A combination of the above options (each semester of college credit is worth 30 continuing education hours, while each quarter of college credit is worth 20 hours).

The librarian certification is renewed at the same time.

You can renew your certification through TIMS.

Reciprocity

Pennsylvania has reciprocity with all 50 states with the Interstate Agreement and National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification, or NASDTEC. 

Pennsylvania does not provide provisional certificates while applicants are under review. They must complete their application process before they can be certified as educators within Pennsylvania.

Out of state qualified teachers must still meet the same testing qualifications as if they were applying in-state. If an applicant has completed a test or qualification out of state with the same name and code as the corresponding in-state qualification, it does not need to be completed again. Otherwise, out of state applicants must complete all PDE-mandated testing to be certified.

Teachers with 2 or more years’ teaching experience can also waive some testing requirements.

For a full list of out of state application pathways, please review PDE’s up-to-date information webpage here.

Becoming a certified state school librarian is a richly rewarding achievement for the right candidate. Instilling in children a curiosity to learn and play, guiding them to explore new and wonderful literature that opens their horizons, and being a core component in their early education journey is a fulfilling career to aspire to.