Volume 25, Number 2, 2003


Iowa Rethinks Public Librarian Recertification

by Sandy Dixon, State Library of Iowa

When the staff at the State Library of Iowa began working on revamping its certification requirements for public librarians, we wanted to model effective professional development and encourage library staff members to implement what they learn, without raising requirements beyond the capacity of the many small libraries in Iowa. Using Wisconsin’s structure and adding our own adaptations, we came up with creative solutions to widen opportunities, accommodate new technology, and recognize many more ways that librarians learn.

A small committee of librarians, consisting of two Library Service Area staff and three public library directors identified “guiding principles” against which to compare recommendations:

  • Maintain the concept of “improving library service in Iowa"
  • Maintain excellence in service to all Iowans
  • Some kind of authorization, oversight
  • Beneficial and do-able for libraries of all sizes
  • Recognize implementation of new things learned
  • Flexible enough to take advantage of alternative delivery methods
  • Consistent across the state
  • Buy-in from LSAs and people affected by the program

We defined continuing education as “that beyond the initial certification requirements.” To renew their Iowa certificate, librarians must acquire forty-five contact hours of approved continuing education during the three-year certification period. Learning activities must be:

  • Be planned, coordinated, administered, and evaluated in terms of learning objectives
  • Be designed to keep librarians abreast of new knowledge and developments within their field
  • Update their basic library-oriented education
  • Enhance their job competence
  • Lead to new specialization in a new area of librarianship
Eligible activities are grouped into three categories. Activities may be offered face-to-face, via the Internet or the Iowa Communication Network (ICN), or by correspondence.

Category A: Continuing Education Activities

This category includes activities for which no academic credit is awarded and which are preplanned CE activities on specific topics. Examples are workshops, seminars, institutes, conferences, and lectures offered by the State Library, regional library organizations, and library associations.

Extra Contact Hours for Learning Assignments.

The sponsoring organizations may award additional contact hours for the completion of specific learning assignments (i.e., practice, follow-up, or implementation activities) following a program. When the participant submits the completed learning assignment to the sponsor, the sponsor may award up to twice the original contact hours. For example, if the two-hour workshop is on database searching, the sponsor might provide a practice assignment to be completed later by the participant, and may award up to 4 additional contact hours.

Teleconferences and Videotapes.

If the CE is offered using the interactive capabilities of the ICN, the participant will be awarded the actual number of contact hours. For participation in a national teleconference or watching a videotape with library-related content, the individual must complete a Learning Activity Written Summary; no more than 10 of the 45 contact hours required for recertification may be earned in this way.

Individualized Continuing Education Plan (ICEP).

To receive credit for individualized learning, an individual must develop a written ICEP in consultation with a learning consultant (from the State Library or regional Library Service Area) and must have a learning objective(s), description of activities to be used to meet the objectives, and measurable or observable results. When the plan is complete, the librarian submits the plan, evaluation, and certificate of completion signed by the learning consultant. There is a limit of 10 hours which may be earned in this fashion.

Learning activities which could be part of an ICEP:

  • Reading a book or journal article
  • Accessing information on a website
  • Listening and/or viewing an audiotape or videotape of a workshop presentation or conference program
  • Learning in another library for a specified period (exchange-of-positions)
  • Receiving one-on-one consultation or instruction
  • Working with a mentor
  • Keeping a learning journal

Examples of measurable or observable results:

  • First time creation of internal manual or guides or other documents
  • Report to the board
  • Observation by the learning consultant that the project has been implemented

Category B: Academic Credit

Librarians may earn credit by completing courses offered by accredited colleges or universities, as long as they meet the definition of continuing education above.

Category C: Self-Directed Learning

This category includes CE activities for which no academic credit are awarded and which are not preplanned CE activities that fit in Category A. The learning activities must still be planned, coordinated, administered, and evaluated in terms of learning objectives. They must be developed in consultation with and pre-approved by the State Library CE Consultant. Examples of activities included in this category:

Serving as an instructor for a course, workshop, seminar, presentation, or conference.

Credit is given for two times the contact hours. Librarians can receive the credit once, regardless of how many times they offer the same content and may receive a maximum of ten hours per offering.

Professional library association activities.

Participating in activities “of a significant nature and at a leadership level” qualifies a librarian to receive up to ten hours of credit.

Writing a publication.

Authoring a publication (a book or chapter of a book, a paper, or an article) published in a refereed journal in the library/media field and read primarily by those in the profession may earn ten recertification hours.

Activities not likely to meet the criteria for CE recertification credit are participating in regular staff meetings, orientation, training on regular library operations or procedures, updating existing manual or other internal documents, fulfilling routine professional association responsibilities, reading professional journals (when they are not part of an ICEP), or attending training on topics not related to library work (such as retirement planning).

For more information about Iowa, visit our web site, or contact Sandy Dixon, Continuing Education Consultant at the State Library of Iowa.