1 School Library Media Certification Frequently Asked Questions Professional Development Studies
2 This packet contains answers to the most frequently asked questions we receive from those considering NJ certification to work in a K-12 media center. The information in this packet reflects all changes to the New Jersey Administrative Code up through the most recent amendments that went into effect in May Please note that in this packet, ASLMS = Associate School Library Media Specialist and SLMS = School Library Media Specialist. General Information The Library Studies Requirements The Education Requirements Other Requirements Information for Teachers, Librarians, and Others Changing Careers to School Libraries Emergency Certification Process for Becoming Certified: CE/CEAS to Provisional Certification to Standard Certification Academic Programs for School Librarianship
3 General Information Navigating the road to certication can be a bit confusing. This packet contains basic information about NJ certification and how to apply for certification. On the School Library Media Activities Monthly site, you can also access information about school library certification for all 50 states - including contact information and details regarding reciprocity. Both sites will be extremely helpful as you navigate the road to certification. Who determines what s required for school library certification? The requirements are determined by the New Jersey Department of Education (DOE) and are listed in the New Jersey Administrative Code (N.J.A.C.), specifically in sections 6A: and 6A: Significant revisions to the Code for school library certifications were enacted in January 2004 and May If you would like to read the official language, go to the DOE website; the section about school library certifications appears on pages What certifications exist for work in school libraries? The N.J.A.C. specifies two levels of certification for work in a school library. To qualify for work as a School Library Media Specialist, (1) you must earn a master s degree and complete at least 36 graduate credits in library studies in specific areas as outlined in the Code; (2) in addition you must either be a certified teacher, have completed a teacher prep program with or without student teaching, or take a coherent sequence of education coursework as outlined in the Code. To qualify for work as an Associate School Library Media Specialist, (1) you must complete at least 18 graduate credits in library studies in specific areas as outlined in the Code; (2) in addition you must either be a certified teacher, have completed a teacher prep program with or without student teaching, or take a coherent sequence of education coursework as outlined in the Code. What s the difference between the two levels of certification? Each school district may determine which level of certification they want to require for a given job. According to the Code, a School Library Media Specialist (who holds a master s degree) can work independently whereas an Associate School Library Media Specialist must be supervised by a certified school administrator, principal, or supervisor. In general, elementary schools tend to require the associate level and high schools tend to require the master s level, but there are exceptions. If I become a certified Library Media Specialist or Associate School Library Media Specialist, am I also certified to be a classroom teacher? No, these two certifications are Educational Services certifications. Both certified teachers and people who are not certified as teachers may hold school library certifications. What will I really do as a school librarian? The American Association of School Librarians maintains a website with information about what school librarians do, job outlook, and other interesting information. Other relevant information is available on the website of the New Jersey Association of School Librarians.
4 The Library Studies Requirements What are the library science requirements if I want to be certified at the School Library Media Specialist level? A candidate must hold a master s degree from a regionally accredited college or university and complete one of the following: (1) A graduate program approved by the NJ DOE for this certification. There are about half a dozen such programs in the state; see the bottom of this page for a list. OR (2) A master s degree in library media studies from a regionally accredited college. Note that the DOE will review your program to make sure you covered all of the subject areas listed under (3) below. If you have a master s in library science but did not do a school library media concentration, you will be required to complete additional coursework to address the subject areas below that you have not previously covered. OR (3) A program of graduate studies consisting of at least 36 semester-hour credits in a coherent sequence of studies including the following: i. Organization and coordination of school library media programs, resources and instruction to provide a sequential course of study for students ; ii. Application of learning theory to reading, listening and viewing library media resources; iii. Access, evaluation, selection and utilization of library media resources; iv. Design and development of multi-media materials; v. Design, development and integration of information literacy skills and the library media program throughout the school curriculum; vi. Integration of educational resources and technology throughout the school curriculum; vii. Children s literature and young adult literature; viii. Development and implementation of policies and procedures for effective and efficient acquisition, cataloging, processing, circulation, and maintaining equipment and resources to ensure equitable access; ix. Development, implementation and evaluation of library media programs to meet educational goals including management of library personnel, resources and facilities; x. Utilization of current and emergent technologies in all phases of school library media programs; and xi. Field experience that includes instruction and management. This experience must be completed in a school library media center.
5 What are the library science requirements if I want to be certified at the Associate School Library Media Specialist level? A candidate must complete one of the following: (1) A graduate program approved by the NJ DOE for this certification. There are about half a dozen such programs in the state; see the bottom of this page for a list. OR (2) A program of graduate studies consisting of at least 18 semester-hour credits in a coherent sequence of studies including the following: i. Access, evaluation, selection and utilization of library media resources; ii. Organization and coordination of school library media programs, resources and instruction to provide K-12 student with a sequential course of studies; iii. Children s literature and young adult literature; iv. Design, development and integration of information literacy skills throughout the school curriculum; v. Design and development of multi-media materials; vi. Utilization of current and emergent technologies in all phases of school library media programs; and vii. A field experience that includes instruction and management. This experience must be completed in a school library media center. I see that there are some programs for school librarianship in schools of education, and some in schools of library science. What s the difference? A school library focus within a master s of education program will give you library employment options within the K-12 school environment. Of the New Jersey colleges and universities that offer programs for school librarianship, seven are within schools of education. On the other hand, a school library focus within a master s of library and information science program qualifies you not only for school library positions but also for positions in public libraries, college libraries, and other environments should you want to move out of K-12 during your career. These other types of libraries do not accept either a master s in education or the Associate School Library Media certification for positions designated as librarian.
6 The Education Requirements What are the requirements for education coursework for School Library Media Specialists and Associate School Library Media Specialists? The New Jersey Administrative Code offers three possible avenues for meeting the education coursework requirements for both levels of certification: (1) Hold a standard New Jersey or out-of-state instructional certificate. A military science endorsement will not satisfy this requirement. If you meet this requirement you must be able to provide a copy of your instructional certificate to the DOE. OR (2) Complete a State-approved college teacher preparation program with or without student teaching. If you meet this requirement then either your transcript must specifically indicate that you completed the teacher preparation program, or you must get a letter from the head of your academic program stating that you have completed all the courses in the approved teacher preparation program (without the student teaching, if that is applicable). OR (3) Complete a coherent college program at a regionally accredited college or university that includes a minimum of nine semester-hour credits in educational theory, curriculum design and integration, teaching methodology, student/learning development, and behavior management. If you meet this requirement you must get a letter from the head of your academic program stating that you have completed such a sequence. Rutgers SC&I now offers a sequence of study to meet this requirement through the Professional Development Studies office. What if I have some credits in education that seem to cover the required areas? If you have already taken some education coursework and believe it would meet the third option above, you will have to ask the DOE to evaluate your credentials to determine if your background meets the requirements. It is unlikely that they will accept coursework taken at multiple institutions. The best alternative would be to have the head of the academic program where you took the coursework write a letter of support indicating that the courses you completed were a coherent program of study that included educational theory, curriculum design and integration, teaching methodology, student/learning development, and behavior management. Rutgers students can use our form to solicit such a letter.
7 Other Requirements What other course requirements are there? You must have a bachelor s degree. What about PRAXIS? New Jersey school librarians do not have to take a PRAXIS exam.
8 Information for Teachers, Librarians, and Others Changing Careers to School Libraries What if I am a certified teacher and want to become certified for school libraries? If you are a certified teacher who wants to move to the school library, you must complete the library studies requirements for the certification. For information about becoming emergency certified as you complete your coursework, see below. What if I am a degreed librarian and want to become certified for school libraries? If you have a master s in library studies but did not do a school library media concentration, you are eligible for a Certificate of Eligibility and then provisional certification as a School Library Media Specialist in New Jersey and can begin work in a school library. When you apply for your CE through your county office of the DOE, the Department of Education will review your credentials to determine what additional coursework you need to meet state requirements for school librarianship. Once you receive a CE and a job offer, you file for provisional certification and can begin work in a school library under provisional certification. Either before or during your provisional year(s) of work you must complete any required additional library studies coursework, as well as the education coursework if needed. If you graduated from either the Rutgers or Rowan masters programs in library studies but without the school library specialization, you should contact your school for details about how to re-enroll to complete coursework within the approved school library program. Note that if you have a master s in library studies from a school besides Rutgers or Rowan, only the Department of Education can give you an official review of your credentials; however, Rutgers and other schools may be able to give you a general idea of what you will need. If you did your masters outside of New Jersey, there are a number of programs in the state that will allow you to enroll as a nondegree student to do this additional coursework. What if I have done some education or library coursework and want to become certified for school libraries? Only the Department of Education can tell you if your past coursework will be acceptable for certification. In general they will not look favorably on a background that includes coursework from multiple institutions. If I am a degreed librarian or have done some library credits, how do I get my credentials evaluated? The best avenue is to work through the DOE office in your county. There is a list of phone numbers on the DOE website. Whenever you submit credentials to the DOE as an individual, you should include a cover letter, your transcripts, and course descriptions and/or syllabi of off the classes listed on your transcripts that might be relevant to this certification. Note that this review may take several months. If you are interested in beginning coursework before you receive your offical evaluation, speak with an academic adviser at the colleges listed below who can probably identify where you clearly have gaps in your background and you can start with those courses.
9 Emergency Certification What exactly is emergency certification? Emergency certification allows a school district who is looking to hire a school librarian but cannot find an already-certified appropriate candidate to hire someone who has completed at least some of the coursework. The district then requests that the state issue the person emergency certification, which allows the district to hire him/her. The candidate can then complete required coursework while working on the job. The N.J.A.C. is ambiguous about who makes the request for emergency certification, in practice the DOE does not allow an individual to request it for him/herself; only a school district can request it on a candidate s behalf. How do I qualify for emergency certification? If the school district is hiring at the Associate School Library Media Specialist level, you must have a bachelor s degree and have completed at least 6 credits in school library media. If the school district is hiring at the School Library Media Specialist level, you must have a bachelor s degree and have completed at least 12 credits in school library media. Once you are emergency certified you must take at least 6 credits per year until all coursework for the certification is complete. Generally you have up to three years to complete your coursework. How do I apply for emergency certification? An individual candidate cannot apply for emergency certification for him/herself. A school district s board of education must apply to the county superintendent for it on behalf of the candidate. (See the N.J.A.C. - 6A:9-6.3 Emergency certificate, which is on page 71.) Note that the district has to show that they have been unable to hire a suitable certified candidate for the position in order to make this request. So that means if I have an MLIS I am eligible for emergency certification? If you have an MLIS you are eligible for a Certificate of Eligibility and you should file for that, rather than having a district apply for emergency certification for you. Will I have to complete the field experience requirement from my academic program if I work for a year or more with emergency certification? Yes, you will have to complete a field experience course even if you are working in a library under emergency certification. (Before 2004 this was not the case.) Note that most academic programs will work with you to integrate your work situation into the field experience. What happens after emergency certification? Once you finish your coursework you are eligible for a CE/CEAS and then provisional certification. The emergency certification does not make you eligible to skip the provisional period.
10 Process for Becoming Certified: CE/CEAS to Provisional Certification to Standard Certification Once I complete the coursework, do I just file with the DOE to become certified? No. There is a three-step process for becoming certified as a School Library Media Specialist or Associate School Library Media Specialist. The process is now similar to the one for teaching certification. If you are new to K-12 certifications the process may seem counterintuitive because you actually must work at a job before you have the standard certificate. So, once you complete the coursework you are eligible to be hired in an initial job, and after some work experience you can be permanently certified; if you complete the coursework but are never employed as a school librarian you will not earn a standard (permanent) certificate. What is the first step after I do my coursework? The first step is for you to establish your eligibility for your initial employment. This is done by obtaining either a Certificate of Eligibility or a Certificate of Eligibility with Advanced Standing. - If you have completed the library science coursework requirements but not the education coursework requirements for the level of certification you desire, you are eligible for a Certificate of Eligibility (CE). - If you have completed both the library science coursework and the education coursework requirements for the level of certification you desire, you are eligible for a Certificate of Eligibility with Advanced Standing (CEAS). - If you have an MLS and still need some library studies courses as well as the education courses, you are eligible for a Certificate of Eligibility (CE). So... Certificate of Eligibility (CE) is a credential with lifetime validity that can be issued to you if you have completed the library studies requirements for your certification (either School Library Media Specialist or Associate School Library Media Specialist), or if you have an MLS but still need some additional library studies courses. Certificate of Eligibility with Advanced Standing (CEAS) is a credential with lifetime validity that can be issued to you if you have completed the library studies requirements for your certification (either School Library Media Specialist or Associate School Library Media Specialist) and have also fulfilled one of the options for the education coursework (i.e., are a certified teacher, completed a teacher prep program, or completed a sequence in education for school librarians, as outlined above).
11 What does a CE or CEAS allow me to do? Either of these credentials allows you to seek and accept employment in positions requiring certification. In other words, if a school district is seeking an Associate School Library Media Specialist, you can apply for the position if you have a CE or CEAS for Associate School Library Media Specialist, and the district can make you a job offer. Won t a school require that I be certified when I apply for the job? No, you can apply for a position requiring certification if you have a CE or CEAS. The CE/CEAS tells the school that you are eligible to be hired. How do I file for a CE or CEAS? If you ve done the coursework at a New Jersey approved program, the college or university will file for you when you finish your classes. If you have done the coursework out of state, OR at multiple institutions, OR you have an MLIS but not in the school library area, you should go to your local county DOE office to file for a CE/CEAS. You can file for this online on the DOE website. You will need a copy of your transcript(s) and course descriptions if you file for yourself. What is the next step? Once you have a job offer, the next step is to legalize your employment by becoming provisionally certified. When you have a CE or CEAS and receive a written job offer, you file for provisional certification and then can begin work. In order to file, the employing school must send a letter, on official school letterhead, to the Department of Education stating that you have been hired and including the effective date of hire. The Department of Education then issues the provisional certificate based on the information in that letter. Provisional Certificate is a two-year certificate issued to candidates who have met the requirements for initial employment (holder of a CE or CEAS), and are employed, and are enrolled as part of a state-approved residency leading to standard certification. What are the terms of working under provisional certification? First, if you have a CE you must complete the education courses during the provisional year. Note that if you obtained a CE because you have an MLS in a non-school area of specialization, you also need to complete the library science coursework during the provisional years. Second, during the provisional period you must work under the supervision of a certified school administrator, principal, or supervisor. You will have a state-approved written residency agreement with the school, and the supervisor should make sure that your year includes professional experiences in the delivery of instruction in information literacy skills and the development and coordination of school library media programs and resources. In addition the residency includes the delivery of instruction in the evaluation, selection, organization, distribution, creation and utilization of school library media. Where possible, the candidate shall be mentored by an experienced school library media specialist throughout the
12 residency. The supervisor is responsible for making sure you have appropriate support and opportunities. So don t I have to be mentored during the provisional period? Note that the language quoted above says Where possible, the candidate shall be mentored by an experienced school library media specialist throughout the residency. In the best situation you should be mentored and supervised by an experienced, certified SLMS. But in some districts there is only one school librarian, and you are in that position, so there is no one to mentor you. This is why the DOE would not require mentoring. If you are in the situation where you are being supervised during your provisional period by a non-librarian and would like to arrange an informal mentor, please contact the New Jersey Association of School Librarians and they will make a contact for you. Do I have to work for two full years under provisional certification before I can receive standard certification? No. Your provisional certificate is good for two years, but if you complete one year satisfactorily and are done with all your coursework you can file for standard certification at the end of a year. Is it possible to renew the provisional certificate if I don t get all the coursework done in the two years? Yes, it s possible to get one renewal, for another two years. How do I move from provisional to standard certification? Assuming all your coursework is finished, your supervisor must formally evaluate your performance and recommend you for certification using a state-approved form. The supervisor is legally obliged to discuss the evaluation with you and both of you must sign it before it is submitted to the DOE. The evaluation includes an assessment of whether the supervisor feels that (a) you should be approved for standard certification, called approved; (b) you should be allowed to continue working under provisional certification, called insufficient; note that if you receive
13 a second insufficient at the end of the following provisional period you cannot continue the residency; or (c) you should not receive a standard certificate, called disapproved; if you are disapproved you cannot continue working under provisional certification. You can have the supervisor recommend you for standard certification at the end of the first year if you qualify, or any time thereafter that you qualify, within the two years of the certificate, or within the following two years if you renew the certificate. If my supervisor rates me as insufficient or disapproved and I don t agree with the assessment, is there any recourse? Yes, there is an appeal process outlined in the N.J.A.C. 6A: If my supervisor approves me, what s the last step? Once your supervisor approves your certification, the DOE will issue you a standard certificate. Standard Certificate is a permanent certificate issued to people who have met all certification requirements. Once I m certified, do I have to renew every few years? No, it is a lifetime certification.
14 Academic Programs for School Librarianship Programs available at Rutgers University MLIS Program: Rutgers offers a Master s in Library and Information Science (MLIS) program with a school library area of specialization that meets the library-related requirements for the School Library Media Specialist title. U.S. News & World Report has ranked the Rutgers MLIS sixth in the country, and the school library program within the MLIS to be #1! In addition, we offer the only American Library Association-accredited library studies program in the state of New Jersey. This accreditation becomes especially meaningful when you want to move outside of K-12 school libraries to a public, college, or corporate library. The school library media specialization is offered both on-campus in New Brunswick, NJ, and online. Post MLIS Certificate for School Library Media Specialist: If you have an MLIS degree and need to complete additional coursework to qualify for School Library Media Specialist, we offer the classes you will need through our Professional Development Studies program. Associate School Library Media Specialist Certificate Program: We offer a 21 credit nondegree program leading to Associate School Library Media Specialist certification. The courses are offered entirely online. They are not self-paced courses; you are in classes with 25 or fewer students, they are taught by qualified instructors, and there is a great deal of interaction and discussion in these courses. Education Courses for School Librarianship: These three courses are designed for those seeking certification as a School Library Media Specialist or Associate School Library Media Specialist who need to fulfill the education course requirements. Non-Rutgers School Library Programs We recognize that the Rutgers MLIS and Professional Development Studies programs may not meet everyone s needs for a graduate program in school librarianship. If you are interested in seeing what library science masters programs are offered around the country, both classroom-based and online, or what it s like to be a librarian, we recommend you visit: American Association of School Librarians - for career and education resources American Library Association - with lists of accredited programs New Jersey Association of School Librarians - with resources for prospective and current NJ school library media specialists
15 Other academic programs If you pursue an MLIS degree or nondegree library science coursework at a non-new Jersey institution but are hoping to be certified in NJ, be sure the coursework covers the competencies outlined in the New Jersey state code. An adviser at your college or university should be able to help you evaluate the academic program. Professional Development Studies School of Communication and Information Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey 4 Huntington Street New Brunswick, NJ mypds.rutgers.edu Connect with PDS:
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