Q: Which states would allow me to be a public librarian without a MLS? I have 16 years of teaching experience, the past two years as a Teacher-Librarian with a Library Endorsement. My graduate degree is in Bilingual and Multicultural Education. As a school librarian in AZ, my position may not exist next year. I see that New Mexico offers the option of public library certification by taking and passing their Class One or Class II (based on population) Certification tests. Are there any other states that offer this option?
TA: Educational requirements for public librarians can vary by state or even local community. According the Public Library Association’s Careers in Public Librarianship webpage:
Most public librarian positions require a Master of Library Science (MLS) or a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree, preferably from a school accredited by the American Library Association (ALA). There are many options regarding program style and size. Undergraduate degrees in almost any subject area are appropriate.”
And looking at the U.S. Government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, the MLS “is necessary for librarian positions in most public, academic, and special libraries.” However, the Handbook goes on to say:
States generally have certification requirements for librarians in public schools and local libraries, though there are wide variations among States…Most States also have developed certification standards for local public libraries, although in some States these guidelines are voluntary.”
With so much variability in educational requirements, it might be best to find a geographic area of interest and research local recruitment practices and requirements.