Tennessee School Librarian Certification Guide - 2024

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


by LibrarianCertification.com Staff

Updated: November 30th, 2023

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 the critical role of helping pupils/students meet their ever-increasing and varying needs for information, resources, and materials.

Working as a Tennessee school librarian gives you the opportunity to be part of the effort to help every student in Tennessee gain access to 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 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, certification serves a critical purpose. Certifications and minimum standards are in place to ensure best practices and professionalism across the state. 

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 may want to look at as you prepare yourself for a school librarian career in the state of Tennessee.

Tennessee School Librarian Certification Guide

In order to practice as a school librarian in Tennessee, you will need to acquire the teacher license endorsement of “Library Information Specialist pre-K-12 – code 473”.

Follow the steps below to learn how you can qualify for this endorsement.

Teaching License

The Tennessee Department of Education requires each school librarian applicant to possess an academic teaching license. 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 listed. First, you need to be sure of the category of certification you need, depending on your current qualifications/certification. 

Educational Requirements

School librarians are required to possess a Bachelor’s degree in education and a Master’s in library science, and/or any program certified by the American Library Association, ALA.

Here you can find all schools offering Masters programs in Library and Information Science in Tennessee.

A masters program in library and information science 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.

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 will always give you an edge job wise.

Testing Requirements

To earn an initial teaching 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.

To qualify for the school librarian endorsement, candidates will need to take the Praxis Test # 0311 “School Library Specialist” and select add-on status to their current teaching license.

Background Checks

Most state education authorities, including the state of Tennessee, carefully look at the personal and professional track records 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. 

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

  • Practitioner License—with Out-of-State Initial Level License
  • Professional License – with Out-of-State Professional Level License
  • Instructional Leadership License (ILL)—with Out-of-State Principal Experience

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

  • Practitioner License—with Out-of-State Educator Preparation Program Completion and Recommendation
  • Practitioner License— Enrolled in an Educator Preparation Program with Job-Embedded Clinical Practice through Out-of-State Partnership