Wisconsin School Librarian Certification Guide - 2022

AKA: School Library Information Specialist (SLIS), School Library Media Services

Last Reviewed: August 23rd, 2022

Licensor: WI DPI

School library information specialists (SLIS) are usually licensed teachers who also hold additional certification in school library media services, although recently educators have been allowed to attain stand-alone certification as an Instructional Library Media Specialist. All Wisconsin students in grades 7-12 must receive services from a certified library media specialist, while students in grades K-6 must receive services from a certified library media specialist or someone under the direction of one. The job of a school library information specialist is ultimately that of an educator.

In addition to providing the basic services of a school librarian such as: basic reference assistance, circulation, location, and technology assistance, school library information specialists have specific skills they are required to demonstrate. These skills are laid out in the Wisconsin Library Media Specialist Licensure Program Content Guidelines. They must be able to develop instruction and programs that are responsive to diverse learning styles, cultural influence, and cognitive development of all learners. They are expected to use a wide variety of instructional practices and diverse resources to foster information and technology literacy. 

A school library information specialist can create developmentally appropriate collections that take into account individual learners’ strengths, interests, and needs, enabling students to advance their own learning. Above all, a school library information specialist must be able to coordinate with several entities and individuals, such as learners, colleagues, other professionals, families, and communities to facilitate access to and use of information to create new knowledge. 

Initial Librarian Certification Process

Licensures such as Instructional Library Media Specialist all under the prevue of Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction, which approves and supervises the college programs offering preparation for licensure. Like most educators, Licenses have three tiers, beginning with the Provisional Educator License, Tier II. After six semesters of experience and completion of any additional statutory requirements, this license is upgraded to a Lifetime Educator License, Tier III. 

Education Requirements

The easiest way to begin the licensure process is through a Wisconsin college that offers programs to obtain the School Library Media Specialist Certification, WI DPI License #1902.

Find all schools offering Library and Information Science degree programs in Wisconsin.

Applicants who already have a bachelor’s degree can earn a Master of Library & Information Science degree. These programs often include the training needed to obtain certification. If you are not seeking the master’s degree, you can complete the competencies needed for an Instructional Library Media Specialist certification through a stand-alone certificate program, which consists of the prerequisite undergraduate library and education courses.

Experience Requirements

While teaching experience in another area used to be a requirement to obtain licensure as an Instructional Library Media Specialist, this is no longer the case. Whether a licensed teacher in another subject area, a non-teacher with a bachelor’s degree, or a high school graduate pursuing a bachelor’s degree stand-alone certification as an Instructional Library Media Specialist, there is a pathway to certification for you. 

Testing Requirements

All certification programs require the applicant to demonstrate subject area competency. Applicants are expected to have a GPA of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale in their content area and achieve passing scores on relevant Praxis II exams. Certain programs may also require a portfolio. 

Background Checks

The Department of Public Instruction is required by law to conduct a background check on all Wisconsin educator license applicants. Applicants are required to:

Background checks are conducted by the DPI using the following resources: the Crime Information Bureau (CIB), Consolidated Court Automation Programs (CCAP), an FBI Fingerprint Check, the Wisconsin Sex Offender Registry, the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Registry, and the Wisconsin Caregiver Misconduct Registry.

Application Process

When the appropriate preparatory program has been completed, the applicant is ready to apply to the Department of Public Instruction for their initial certification. This process is done online (except for fingerprint acquisition) by following the prompts on the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s Educator Licensing Online portal here.

Once the application is completed and the applicant has reviewed the summary and made any necessary edits, the applicant can press the “SUBMIT” button to submit the application. The applicant then waits for a confirmation email, completes the rest of the application according to the instructions given, and pays the $125 fee on the ELO website.

Certification Renewal Procedure

All applications for educator licensure are completed on the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s website at http://dpi.wi.gov/licensing/apply-educator-license. Their website notes that when a complete and accurate renewal application is completed before June 30th in the year the license expires, the existing license does not expire until the Department of Public Instruction completes the processing of the renewal application.

Once an educator has successfully completed six semesters of experience in Wisconsin under their Provisional educator license and have completed all statutory requirements, they can apply for their lifetime license. To apply for this license, an applicant must first determine if fingerprints are required using this fingerprint decision tree. After fingerprints are obtained if necessary, an applicant would gather their documentation (listed on this webpage), and apply on the ELO website here.

Certification Reciprocity Process

Occasionally an applicant is seeking certification as an Instructional Library Media Specialist in Wisconsin after holding a similar certification in a different state. Applicants can apply for a License Based on Reciprocity if they have an equivalent license from another state and have at least one year of regular employment working in a school under that license. To apply for this license, an applicant must first determine if fingerprints are required using this fingerprint decision tree. After fingerprints are obtained if necessary, an applicant would gather their documentation (listed on this webpage), which includes a form requesting information on any alleged misconduct, documentation of at least one year teaching experience in another state, and a copy of a valid teaching license in good standing from another state. 

Once the documents have been gathered, the applicant can apply on the ELO website here. This involves answering the three onboarding questions, selecting the “Out of State Program [1025]” application under “Apply for a new license” on the Quick Start Menu and clicking “Go.” Once the application is completed and the applicant has reviewed the summary and made any necessary edits, the applicant can press the “SUBMIT” button to submit the application. The applicant then waits for a confirmation email, completes the rest of the application according to the instructions given, and pays the $125 fee on the ELO website.

The Department of Public Instruction’s website notes that they will determine for which licenses the applicant is eligible. If they determine the applicant is not eligible for the license requested, a similar license will be issued for which they are eligible. If no such license exists, the application will be denied. The review process takes approximately 12-16 weeks, but will be fastest if all required documents are provided with the completed application.