West Virginia Public Librarian Certification Guide - 2022

AKA: Basic Certification, Intermediate Certification, Advanced Certification

Last Reviewed: August 23rd, 2022

Library staff members are required to complete at least the Basic Level of the Public Librarian Certification Program. The intent of certification is to ensure library workers have the necessary skills and knowledge to provide high-quality service and to improve the functioning of public libraries.

The responsibilities of public librarians are consistently growing and shifting. As a result, library staff needs to be equipped to navigate these changes. Public librarians are not only charged with helping library patrons find information; they are also required to work with complex technology, organize community programs, and maintain library collections.

Certification of public librarians is one way the West Virginia Library is able to maintain high standards of service at public libraries across the state. 

If you’re interested in becoming certified, this guide will tell you everything you need to know about the process.

Public Librarian Certification Process

There are three levels of librarian certification in West Virginia. Currently, only the Basic Level of certification is available. However, the West Virginia Library Commission is working on completing a Public Librarian Certification Program (PLCP). When complete, the curriculum will consist of three levels of certification: Basic Certification, Intermediate Certification, and Advanced Certification. 

Each level of certification will have its own accompanying education requirements.

After certification is obtained, there is no indication that it needs to be renewed. However, all library directors and supporting staff members are required to fulfill certain continuing education requirements.

Education Requirements

As previously mentioned, the West Virginia Library Commission is in the process of developing its own three-level Public Librarian Certification Program (PLCP). This curriculum contains online courses, archived webinars, workshops, and special institutes. 

If you are a library staff member who does not have any formal training in library science, you should start with the Basic Certification track. The course for Basic Certification must be completed in two years. This track consists of coursework in the following core areas:

  • Fundamentals of Librarianship
  • Collection Development
  • Organization of Materials
  • Management
  • Programming & Services
  • Technology

The Intermediate Certification coursework will build on top of the basic level curriculum. Candidates will be able to explore different topic areas in more depth through electives in a variety of subject areas. Intermediate certification requires an additional 16 courses over the Basic Level, and it needs to be completed in one year.

To obtain Advanced Certification, you must complete 16 additional courses over the Intermediate Level. You’ll have one additional year to complete the requirements for Advanced Certification. 

While the Basic Certification track is now available, the Intermediate and Advanced Certification tracks are still in the works. 

Courses are consistently updated with new information, and old information will be taken down if it is no longer timely. This ensures the certification tracks are always presenting the most relevant, accurate information. 

Continuing Education

In addition to the coursework for certification, continuing education is also required for library directors and library staff members by the West Virginia Administrative Rules. If you are a member of library support staff, you should work with your library director to make sure you meet the continuing education requirements. 

Specific information about continuing education requirements is available in the Continuing Education Guidance Statement.

All workshops, classes, and conferences listed on the Continuing Education Calendar have already been pre-approved for continuing education credit. You must submit proof of attendance to the Library Commission within 30 days of completing one of these classes.

If you’d like to take a course that has not been pre-approved by the library commission, complete the Continuing Education Request Form, and submit it at least two weeks prior to the event. After the event is approved and you’ve attended it, submit proof of your attendance to Library Development by calling 304-558-2041.

Experience Requirements

It is a reasonable expectation for library staff to have a certain amount of experience under their belt. Experience working in a library setting prepares public librarians for the complexities of their role, including working with complicated technology, assisting library patrons, and managing library staff.

While there is no experience requirement for Basic Certification, having a professional background in library work will make you a stronger candidate for employment in a public library. If you are in the process of working on your education requirements, it’s a great idea to apply for library internships, jobs, and volunteer opportunities. 

Testing Requirements

There is no testing obligation for public librarian certification beyond the regular course requirements. You may be tested throughout your online coursework in the Basic Certification track to check your understanding of the concepts you learn. However, there is no final exam or certification test.

Background Checks

For the safety of our communities, library patrons, and staff members, it is typical for public library personnel to undergo certain background checks. This ensures all public librarians are qualified to do their jobs and to provide excellent levels of service.

There is no specific background check information you need to be aware of to become a certified public librarian in West Virginia. However, you may be subject to the same background checks required of other government employees when you apply to work in a public library. 

Application Process

To start the Basic Certification process, you should first sign up for a WebJunction account if you do not already have one. 

Next, you will need to create a Niche Academy account if you don’t already have one. To do so, go to the West Virginia Library Staff Training and Certification site on Niche Academy. Then, click the “person” icon in the top right corner of your window. Finally, select “Create a free account,” and follow the proceeding directions.

After you’ve registered, enroll in the Public Librarian Certification Program – Basic Certification Pathway. To do so, click the “Begin” button at the top middle of the page. 

You will have two years to complete the requirements for Basic Certification after you click “Begin.” You may take the required courses in any order you choose.

Once you’ve finished all the coursework in the Basic Certification Pathway, there is one final course you will need to complete that will ask you to submit your coursework for review. By completing this final step, you will indicate to the West Virginia Library that you are ready to be considered for certification. 

If you have any questions regarding the certification process, please contact Heather Campbell-Shock at heather.s.campbell@wv.gov.