South Dakota School Librarian Certification Guide - 2024

AKA: Elementary Library Science Endorsement, Secondary Library Science Endorsement

by Staff

Updated: November 30th, 2023

Licensor: SD DOE

Want a job as a South Dakota public school librarian? Working in the library science field could be a smart career move. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects “employment in education, training, and library occupations to grow 6.6% from 2018 to 2028, faster than the average for all occupations.”

As of 2019, the BLS reported that “librarians and library media specialists held about 146,500 jobs” nationwide. Over a third worked in elementary and secondary schools (both public and private).

Since public school librarians are integral to student educational success, South Dakota requires applicants to be school library media specialists (SLMSs). They must demonstrate competency when working with students and teachers to ensure access to digital and non-digital information. SLMSs are also skilled in research, information literacy, and various technologies. Among other duties, they recommend books and integrate reading within school curricula.

Initial School Librarian Certification Guide

Education Requirements

South Dakota public school librarian applicants (South Dakota law defines “applicant” as an individual applying for an initial or renewed educator certificate”) have two options: Traditional Endorsement (“endorsement” is the content and subject areas in which the educator is certified”) or Library Science Educator Permit Only. 

Traditional Endorsement

Traditional Endorsement librarian applicants are educators (“persons employed by a school or school district in a position requiring a certificate”) seeking a School Library Science endorsement to add to their valid teaching certificate. Applicants can add an Elementary School Library or Secondary School Library endorsement through School Library content coursework from an accredited institution. 

To find the requirements and more information, search South Dakota DOE 411. Use the following search terms:

  • Elementary School Library
  • Secondary School Library

Traditional Endorsement librarian applicants can also receive a School Library Science endorsement by taking the Praxis II Library Media Content Test (5311). For details on this and other Praxis tests, refer below to the section on testing requirements. This exam is not required if one’s coursework has 18 credits approved by the South Dakota Department of Education (SDDE). 

Applicants seeking the Library Science Endorsement must be either an Early Childhood, Elementary, Secondary, K-12, Early Childhood Special Education, or K-12 Special Education teacher. 

Library Science Educator Permit Only

An educator permit (“a type of certificate that restricts the holder to the endorsement indicated on the certificate”) is an option available to applicants who lack a South Dakota teaching certificate but hold a Master’s Degree or higher in Library Science (MLS, MILS, etc.).

To receive a Library Science Educator Permit, applicants must complete an approved Suicide Awareness and Prevention training course and pass a South Dakota Indian Studies (SDIS) course approved by the SDDE. Applicants must also complete applicable Praxis tests; see the section on testing requirements below.

The Library Science Educator permit and endorsement costs $25 and is valid for five years.

As of 2021, no South Dakota college or university offered American Librarian Association (ALA)-accredited programs. ALA-accredited programs must comply with the Standards for Accreditation of Master’s Programs in Library and Information Studies, as established by the ALA’s Committee for Accreditation. Explore all Library and Information Science degree programs offered in South Dakota.

Experience Requirements

While entry-level public school librarians in South Dakota need no prior work experience, either in library science or a related field, many librarians begin their careers as classroom teachers. Naturally, a librarian should enjoy reading, instructing students in the basics of using a library and its resources, and training staff in tasks such as library database management systems (DBMS).

Testing Requirements

Depending upon one’s certification process, the applicant must pass applicable Praxis Principles of Learning (PLT) and content tests. These exams, administered by the Educational Testing Service (, gauge the competency of applicants to serve as librarians for K-12.

For example, the Praxis II Library Media Content Test (5311) consists of 120 questions and uses a “selected-response” format. Some questions are multiple-choice; other questions require the applicant to “fill-in-the-blank” with a typed response.

The 5311 exam tests applicants in five areas:

  • Learning and Teaching (28%): surveys comprehension of curriculum development and integration, literature, and instructional design.
  • Collection Development (21%): surveys knowledge of procuring, choosing, structuring, preserving, and circulating resources.
  • Information Access and Delivery (21%): surveys an applicant’s understanding of information resources and applications.
  • Program Administration (18%): surveys an applicant’s grasp of library media center (LMC) administration and evaluation, organization, management, and policies.
  • Professional Development, Leadership, and Advocacy (12%):
    • Professional Development — surveys an applicant’s awareness of groups linked to school library media, professional growth endeavors, and reflective processes.
    • Leadership and Advocacy — surveys a library media specialist’s expertise in cooperating with students, teachers, and the community at large while addressing the demands and attributes of adult learners. Additionally, it examines legislation and significant litigation regarding school library media and activism.

Applicants seeking a traditional Library Science endorsement must score at least 157 on the Praxis Grades 7-12 PLT (5624) exam to be certified as a librarian at the secondary level. Conversely, those with a secondary education degree must score at least 160 on the Praxis Grades K-6 PLT (5622) exam to be certified as a librarian at the elementary level.

Applicants seeking a Library Science Permit must score at least 160 on the Praxis Grades 5-9 PLT (5623) exam and 152 on the Praxis Content Library Media Specialist (5311) exam.

Praxis Exam Costs

Praxis Content Library Media Specialist (5311) $130
Praxis Grades K-6 PLT (5622) $156
Praxis Grades 5-9 PLT (5623) $156
Praxis Grades 7-12 PLT (5624) $156

Each exam lasts two hours. Note that “Special Service” fees may apply. For example, changing one’s test center or test date incurs a $40 fee.

Applicants can register online and pay for the exam with a credit/debit card or PayPal. Testing is administered during assigned windows throughout the year and at various sites worldwide. Applicants must print their admission tickets for admission to the test site. Applicants must also show a valid ID. No personal items (viz., books, calculators, smartphones, refreshments, etc.) are allowed.  

ETS and other providers offer online study guides to prepare applicants for Praxis exams.

Background Checks

All local school districts in South Dakota must conduct thorough criminal background checks of teachers (including librarians). According to the South Dakota Statute for Association of School Boards (§13-10-12):

Each person over eighteen years of age hired by a school district shall submit to a criminal background investigation using fingerprint checks by the Division of Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The school district shall submit completed fingerprint cards to the Division of Criminal Investigation before the prospective new employee enters into service. If no disqualifying record is identified at the state level, the fingerprints shall be forwarded by the Division of Criminal Investigation to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for a national criminal history record check.

The employing school district “may pay” the costs of criminal background checks or fingerprinting of prospective librarians subject to the requirements cited in §13-10-12.

Application Process

Prospective public school librarians who have completed an educator preparation program from a South Dakota university should apply using the Educator Permit Only Initial Application. Follow the steps outlined below.

  1. See how to create an account with the online certification system by exploring information about the new certification system.
  2. Create an account and log into the application system.
  3. Select the Educator Permit Only Initial Application by clicking on the “Apply” button.
  4. Complete all sections of the application. Applicants must scroll down to the bottom of each page and select “Save and continue.”

Note that applications can be submitted before uploading the required documents. An applicant enters his or her name as it is to appear on the certificate. As mentioned above, Educator Permit Only (i.e., a Library Science permit) certificates are valid for five years. 

Applicants who completed an educator preparation program from a state other than South Dakota should apply using the Out-of-State Initial Educator Application. Follow the steps outlined above for the Educator Permit Only Initial Application. 

Applicants who completed an educator preparation program in another country must complete the Out-of-Country Initial Application. These applicants must provide either a J1 or H1B visa and an educator certificate from another country with a transcript evaluation from the Association of International Credential Evaluators (AICE) or the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES). If the applicant plans to be repatriated within 5 years, he or she should select the “Educator Permit International Exchange” certificate type in the application. This certificate type cannot be renewed.

Applicants with educator certification from another state or country can request a one-year provisional certificate. This certificate allows state school districts to employ the applicant while he or she completes the required SDIS course and Suicide Awareness and Prevention Training. Applicants who complete this curricula must submit official transcripts. 

Out-of-state and out-of-country provisional certificates and certificate renewals cost $35.

Applicants can pay online using a credit/debit card or mail a check/money order to the following address:

Office of Educator Certification
800 Governors Drive
Pierre, SD 57501

Confirmation of application submission and payment is provided via email. Applicants who do not pay with a credit/debit card when submitting their application online cannot pay with this option later.

Certification Renewal Procedure

Applicants renewing a five-year Educator (e.g., Librarian) Permit Only must complete three library science-related credits with any combination of transcripted credits, specialized learning experience hours, or continuing education contact (clock) hours. Fifteen contact hours comprise one renewal credit. Applicants must also complete approved Suicide Awareness and Prevention Training and the SDIS course.

If an educator has not met all renewal requirements by October 1 of the expiry year, the certificate becomes invalid. Librarians who have an invalid certificate may receive a one-year temporary certificate to complete the required extension.

While the SDDE does not typically offer additional extensions beyond one year, it does grant two exceptions. If a librarian with a valid certificate is called to active military duty, the certificate may be re-issued with extended dates at no additional fees. To receive this extension, “soldier-librarians” must provide a copy of their military orders verifying the start and end dates of the active-duty period. 

Also, if a librarian can demonstrate good cause for a “hardship” extension, his or her certificate may be extended without penalty for one year. The applicant must show “satisfactory” evidence of a good faith effort to meet the renewal requirements. Examples of good causes are loss of income, serious illness, or a family member’s death or incapacitation.

For certificate renewal, applicants must submit a contact hour certificate and/or official transcripts. To submit contact hours (or any other document) online, applicants must upload documents in .pdf files to their application and email their submission to Applicants must also send a copy of their contact hour certificate via the U.S. Postal Service.

Applicants can mail official/original transcripts to the Office of Educator Certification in Pierre. Electronic transcripts may be submitted directly to the SDDE but not be uploaded as a .pdf doc or attached to an email.

Certification Reciprocity Process

The SDDE defines educator reciprocity as “the process by which the Secretary recognizes an educator certificate issued by another state and issues an equivalent South Dakota certificate.” While South Dakota participates in the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) Interstate Teacher Reciprocity Agreement, reciprocity is not automatic. 

The SDDE bases educator reciprocity on the completion of an approved education program. However, licensed out-of-state applicants are subject to the same prerequisites for in-state applicants, viz.:

  • A Bachelor’s degree or higher from a regionally accredited school and teacher preparation program.
  • Passing the Praxis II Library Media Content Test (5311).
  • Applicants may receive a one-year provisional certificate if they require additional coursework or need to fulfill testing requirements (such as completing the SDIS course and Suicide Awareness and Prevention Training).

Also, the previous licensing state must verify to the SDDE that the applicant has no past or pending disciplinary actions for actual or alleged ethics violations. 

Additional Information

Those who have questions or seek additional information may refer to the SDDE website’s Certification FAQ section.