Certification and Licensure


While the American Library Association has a long history in accreditation, the Association has historically not been involved with the certification of individuals, either at the point of initial entry into the profession (receipt of MLS) or at any subsequent (post-MLS) point. The question of certification has surfaced periodically. In 1996, the Executive Boards of two ALA divisions, PLA and LAMA, approved a proposal to develop a “Certified Public Library Administrator” program; that proposal was also subsequently adopted by the ASCLA Executive Board. Adoption of such a proposal has brought the issue of certification forward.

Certification attests to the possession by an individual of a specified body of knowledge and/or skills. Certification can occur at entry level, as part of career development, or as recognition of career achievement.

Certification and licensure attest to an individual’s possession of a specified set of knowledge and skills. Both accreditation and certification are voluntary. Licensure is mandatory and governmental.

ALA-APA Certified Public Library Administrator Program

ALA-APA Certified Public Library Administrator Program (CPLA)is a voluntary post-MLS certification program for public librarians with three years or more of supervisory experience. CPLA certification will enable public library administrators to:

  • Further their professional education and development.
  • Move to a higher level of practical professional experience.
  • Improve career opportunities through professional expertise.
  • Demonstrate to colleagues, trustees and board of directors, patrons and the wider information community that the certified person has acquired a nationally and professionally recognized body of knowledge and expertise in public library administration.
  • Improve the quality of library service through the provision of practical knowledge and skills essential to successful library management.

Library Support Staff Certification (LSSC)

The Library Support Staff Certification (LSSC) Program is a national certification program sponsored by the American Library Association that allows library support staff (those who work in a library position that does not require a Master’s of Library and Information Science)to demonstrate their competencies and become a Certified Library Support Staff (CLSS).  Value and benefits of becoming a CLSS include:

  • Earning respect and recognition
  • Demonstration of  value to the library
  • An edge on a job or promotion
  • Increased self-confidence
  • Goes with you when change jobs or move; portable to other states
  • Provides proof of your achievements
  • Increases your understanding of total library operation
  • Helps you better serve library users.


Some states refer to their programs as certifications; others as licensure.

State and Regional Library Certification (mostly for Public Libraries)

School Library Education

50 States School Library Certification Requirements



last updated 2 September 2013