Tennessee School Librarian Certification Guide - 2022

AKA: PreK-12 School Library Endorsement, School Library Specialist

Last Reviewed: November 18th, 2021

Licensor: TN DOE

The job of a school librarian has continued to evolve. Today, the school librarian is more open-minded, smart, and flexible in this critical role of helping pupils/students meet their ever-increasing varying needs for information, resources, and materials.

Working as a Tennessee school librarian gives you the opportunity to be part of the dream that residents, especially students of the state of Tennessee, can access quality information and resources from libraries. This, of course, feeds into the grand object of the American Library Association—the promotion of library service and librarianship, in furtherance of the mission to provide leadership for the development, promotion, and improvement of library and information services.

In this challenging but exciting job, you would be involved in the general business of ensuring the growth of the Tennessee school library, ranging from managing collection of books and media materials to supporting media specialists, and fostering collaboration amongst other library experts, school administrators, classroom teachers and educational innovators in Tennessee.

Just like every other field of practice, certifications serve very critical purposes. If you are passionate about it, you have to learn the ropes and earn the required certification. Scaling through training and certification is in itself a test of interest and capacity to succeed. Certifications and minimum standards are also in place to ensure best practices and professionalism across the state. 

Tennessee School Librarian Certification Guide

Navigating a career path as either a beginner or one in pursuit of a new interest requires a lot of research. This is to help understand the requirements and certifications. According to Every Library Institute, school librarians need a Bachelor’s degree in education and a Master’s in library science, and or any program certified by the American Library Association, ALA. The American Association of School Librarian website, AASL, Every Student Succeeds Act implementation, ESSA, and The National School Library Standards are some important sources of information you need to look at as you prepare yourself for a school librarian career in the state of Tennessee. There are also librarian courses available as Certificate Courses, Diploma Courses, Bachelor’s Degree Courses, and Advanced or Post Graduate Courses. 

Educational Requirements

Matching specific requirements/certifications for particular fields depends on your previous or ongoing qualifications or certifications.

A Tennessee librarian must possess quality education and character to handle students, cutting across Kindergarten up to the 12th grade. This requires a mix of pedagogical and analytical skills/training, especially from advanced education.

By the standards of the Tennessee Department of Education, a Teaching license is a key requirement. The Tennessee Department of Education has the responsibility of issuing a license to Tennessee educators as stipulated by the legislative codes and state board rules, regulations, and policies. The office of educator licensure and preparation within the state’s department of education must issue licenses to all Tennessee educators and approve educator preparation programs. To apply for a Tennessee license or renew your license, visit TNCompass and follow the steps. First, you need to be sure of the category of certification you need, depending on your current qualifications/certification. 

Option 1: You have none of the three key certifications. Therefore, you need an initial Tennessee Educator License, an American Library Association accredited Master’s degree in Information or Library Science, and a PreK-12 School Library Endorsement.

Option 2: You currently or have been previously licensed as a teacher and need the ALA-accredited Master’s in Information Science along with the PreK-12 School Library Endorsement. Please refer to our guide on Certificate Reciprocity if you were licensed by any other state.

Option 3: Already have an American Library Association accredited Master’s degree in Library or Information Science, but require the initial teaching license and PreK-12 School Library endorsement. 

Option 4: Currently a licensed Tennessee teacher and need to add only the PreK-12 School Library Endorsement to my license.

The PreK-12 School Library Endorsement, as recognized by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), is mostly available online. It endorses your ability to deliver on all aspects of a school library, especially resources and technology, to help students and teachers benefit maximally from the library. It is also described as the School Library Professional Certificate Program. At East Tennessee State University (ETSU), it is a 24 credit hour program of approved classes that meets the requirements for Tennessee endorsement as a School Library Specialist.

In Tennessee, a tiered licensure system is used. To be eligible for the initial practitioner license (the entry-level certificate in the tired structure), candidates must hold a bachelor’s degree in addition to a master’s degree from an accredited institution with a completed approved Tennessee teacher license to enroll for this endorsement. Alternatively, if you already have an approved Tennessee teacher preparation program, but do not have a bachelor’s or Master’s degree, you could consider Tennessee’s alternative teacher certification pathways as an option. 

According to the Tennessee state requirements, after completion of the course work/endorsement, candidates would take Praxis Test # 0311 “School Library Specialist” and select add-on status to their current teaching license.

Experience Requirement

There are no fixed requirements. However, demonstrable experiences gathered from internships, volunteering, previous part and full-time employment in the educational or related organization would always give an edge. You should acquire some experience in related roles.

Testing Requirements

In Tennessee, to earn initial certification, candidates must earn a minimum passing score of 146 on the Praxis II Library Media Content Test and Praxis II Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT) appropriate for the grade levels to be taught are required. You can figure out which is suited for the grades level you will work with from the Praxis platform

Background Checks

Most state education authorities, including the state of Tennessee, carefully look at the personal and professional track of candidates. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) offers the overall public and qualified organizations criminal background checks. TBI allows the overall public to get a Tennessee adult criminal history on a person. The process can also be completed online or by mail.

Background checks assure safety for the users of the school library, including the staff members and students. A background check is a part of the application process. At that early stage, the candidates are asked to supply their contact information and Social Security Number. This information will be used to conduct criminal background checks with the FBI, the Department of Tennessee State Police, or the Administrative Office of Courts. It is also important to ascertain the health status and wellbeing by looking at the applicant’s medical records.

Application Process

First-time users will register for an account. All licensure transactions must be submitted electronically through TNCompass. The department does not accept paper applications.

Certificate Renewal (upgrade based on experience)

In Tennessee, educators and allied staff are to renew their license on or before the due date. When a particular license is no longer used, it will be converted to new license types. You should see the licensure renewal application checklist. If you do not have a TNCompact Account, you need to create one. Then navigate to the ‘Apply to renew license’ bar. Log in to your profile and follow the steps. All questions on licensing or renewal should be sent to this email: Educator.Licensure@tn.gov

Out-of-State or Reciprocity in Tennessee

The Tennessee Education Department is happy to welcome interest in becoming Tennessee educators by persons from other states. You need to review the Tennessee Educator License types as hinted earlier. Then you also need to create a TNCompass account. The out-of-state licensing checklist would help.

Pathways to explore as an Out-of-State Licensing Candidate

Instructional Leader License (ILL) — Without Out-of-State Principal Experience