Virginia Public Librarian Certification Guide - 2024

AKA: Professional Librarian's Certification

by Staff

Updated: August 23rd, 2022

Public librarian certification upholds the standards for public libraries across Virginia. Libraries offer the public an invaluable service. Because taxpayer dollars fund the operations of public libraries, it’s vital that librarians are well-equipped to carry out the roles and responsibilities required of them.

In Virginia, the State Library Board governs the qualifications and requirements for professional librarians in public libraries. Librarians who work in the following types of libraries are exempt from certification:

  • Law libraries of counties or cities
  • Libraries at colleges or universities
  • Libraries of institutions

It’s important to note that every state’s public librarian certification requirements are different. Some states require only certain members of library staff to become certified, while others do not require certification at all.

These differences among states can make the process of becoming certified seem overwhelming and confusing. To help demystify the goals and requirements of certification, this article details the process of becoming a certified public librarian in Virginia.

Public Librarian Certification Process

The public librarian certification in Virginia is formally known as the Professional Librarian’s Certificate. This certification is required for any full-time professional librarian employed at a public library operated by the Commonwealth of Virginia.

After becoming certified, your certification does not have to be renewed. However, it’s always a good idea to pursue continuing education while working as a public librarian. The responsibilities of librarians are shifting constantly with the evolution of technology and information exchange. Staying current on relevant topics will equip you to succeed and advance in your career.

To obtain a Professional Librarian’s Certificate in the Commonwealth of Virginia, you must meet the following requirements.

Education Requirements

To obtain a Professional Librarian’s Certificate, you must have a master’s degree in library or information science. Also, you must obtain your master’s degree from a program that is accredited by the American Library Association (ALA). If you’ve received a doctorate degree from such an institution, you are also eligible for certification.

You can obtain a provisional certificate if you have completed the required credits for a master’s degree in library or information science from an accredited institution. This provisional letter of certification grants a one-year period during which you must submit proof that you’ve received a master’s degree in library or information science.

To find an ALA-approved program, browse through the American Library Association’s Directory of Institutions Offering Accredited Master’s Programs in Library and Information Studies. Search for a local program, and try to find alumni reviews of the programs online.

Experience Requirements

As a certified public librarian, you’ll be required to work with complicated technology, provide expert assistance to library patrons, and work well alongside library staff. All of these duties require a certain level of skill and practice, so on-the-job experience is a reasonable prerequisite.

Although you are not required to have a certain type or amount of experience to become a certified public librarian, experience working at a library is preferred. You can achieve this experience by volunteering at a public library, seeking out library internships, or working at your school’s library while you are completing your education requirements.

As mentioned previously, if you are a certified public librarian in a different jurisdiction, your experience and certification may be transferable. The State Library Board will review your certificate requirements and evaluate how they compare to those in Virginia.

Testing Requirements

Aside from the regular testing associated with obtaining your degree, there are no required tests to obtain a Professional Librarian’s Certificate. You must receive adequate grades in your coursework, as determined by the State Library Board, to become certified.

Background Checks

During the application process, the State Library Board may conduct a background check to verify your work history and determine whether you have a criminal record. Background checks are standard and important for certified librarians because they uphold the standards set forth by the State Library Board.

There is no additional action you must take to comply with any background checks the Library Board may conduct.

Application Process

You can access the application for certification online, however you cannot submit the application electronically. Instead, print out the PDF application, fill and sign it, and mail it to the following address:

ATTN: Paranita Carpenter
Library Development & Networking Division
The Library of Virginia
800 East Broad Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219-8000

A $50 application fee is required, and your check should be issued to “The Library of Virginia.” If you want a duplicate certificate, an additional $10 fee is required.

Along with your application, you must also submit a copy of your graduate transcript (official or unofficial). Be sure this transcript includes your academic record (your grades), the type of degree you received, and the date your degree was conferred.

To summarize, here is a checklist of everything you need to submit:

  • Completed application
  • Check or money-order made payable to The Library of Virginia
  • Copy of your official or unofficial graduate transcript

A copy of your diploma, a DegreeVerify certificate, or a copy of a librarian’s certificate from another state will not be sufficient to complete your application unless accompanied by your graduate transcript.

If you have questions about the application process, call or email Paranita Carpenter at 804-692-3993 or