Certification Guidelines

Details of the certification program provided below.  Here is a summary:

WHO?...         Primarily people without formal library training who are directing small Vermont public libraries. Other library staff, volunteers and trustees may also pursue certification as workshop space allows.  However it is unlikely that a trustee or volunteer would be able to finish all requirements in the five years allotted.

WHY?...        Improve library service to the whole community.

HOW?...         Attend workshops or take courses relating to public library service and receive credit for them. Successfully complete 150 credits for a "Certificate of Public Librarianship."

WHAT?...      Department of Libraries workshops of varying length and topics, and/or courses and workshops offered by other academic institutions and professional groups.

CREDIT?…     Corresponds to the number of hours spent in a workshop and recorded from attendance sheets. Credit will be given only if the attendee completes all requirements to the satisfaction of the instructor.




To encourage basic training in public librarianship, the Vermont Department of Libraries and Certification Board maintain a voluntary certification program for public librarians who do not have formal library training. The program, in its present form, has been in effect for about 25 years and was established to meet the needs of practicing public librarians, trustees, and volunteers.


People with a master's degree in library science should disregard the certification program; however, degreed individuals are encouraged to participate in continuing education opportunities, including DOL workshops.


One of the requirements for meeting Minimum Standards for Vermont Public Libraries is that the librarian "possesses a library science degree, a Vermont certificate of library training, or has actively worked toward one of these in the past twelve months." This standard refers specifically to the head librarian of a library.  Other members of a library's staff may have or may be working toward certification, but this has no effect on a library's eligibility to meet standards.



A "Certificate of Public Librarianship" is awarded upon successful completion of 150 credits accumulated by taking workshops offered by the DOL, or by taking approved courses relating to public library service provided by other organizations, institutions, or agencies.  Eligible candidates may substitute credits from an independent study or internship project for course work. 

Librarians other than public librarians may earn certification, but will only be certified as public librarian.


No other state automatically accepts Vermont's certification.  Since Vermont's acceptance of certification by other states is also not automatic, each case is reviewed on an individual basis. In some states, certification of public librarians is a part of state law, but this is not the case in Vermont.


At present, there are no requirements for re-certification; however, public librarians are encouraged to take workshops and courses after completion of an MLS or certification.


Individual certification records are maintained at the Department of Libraries.  Credits are recorded from workshop attendance sheets in consultation with the instructor.  Questions about the status of an individual's certification record should be directed to the Certification Board Chair.


School certification and public library certification are not equivalent or interchangeable.  Each case of a school librarian wishing to obtain public library certification will be considered individually.  However, usually proof of school certification plus workshops (or their equivalent) on collection development and public library administration will be required.


To be certified, a librarian must accumulate 150 hours of credit within 5 years.


Credits are generally based on the number of hours spent in a course or workshop.  Approval for credit for workshops or courses not given by the Department of Libraries must be requested from the Certification Board Chair.



Successful completion of the following four basic courses (or their equivalent) is required:  cataloging and organization of library materials, reference, public library administration and collection development.  The Department of Libraries offers these multi-day workshops on a rotating basis by location and year.  In addition, there is a fifth requirement of 10 credits of library information technology.


Department of Libraries one-day workshops are assigned 5 credits.  Multi-day workshop credits, however, are assigned according to continuity of attendance.  For example:


Three Day Workshops

Five Day Workshops

Days in Attendance


Days in Attendance






















 Credit will not ordinarily be given twice for the same workshop, even if taken several years apart.  Credit will not be given toward completion of a basic subject for less than 4 days attendance.

Credit for workshops will not be given simply for attendance.  Each attendee must participate actively and complete all assignments to the instructor's satisfaction, or no credit will be given.  In the event that no credit is awarded, a letter to this effect will go to the participant with a copy to his or her Board of Trustees.



Two credits are given for each Department of Libraries Materials Review Session attended.  A maximum of 15 of these credits may be applied toward certification.





The Department of Libraries offers a variety of workshops designed for the untrained, working librarian who needs skills immediately to provide responsive, effective public library service.  Two of the four basic subjects (cataloging and organization of materials, reference, public library administration, and collection development), are taught each year, and other specialized workshops such as storytelling, safety, public relations, young adult services, etc., are offered less frequently. 

Regional librarians can also teach mini-workshops on a variety of subjects such as customer service and Intellectual Freedom.  These workshops are not included in the annual list of workshops, but rather are scheduled as need arises.  Each mini-workshop is worth 2 credits. A listing of many of the topics can be found here.


Most of the workshops are held at the regional libraries or at public libraries, and are generally scheduled between March and October.  The workshop schedule and registration information for the upcoming season is made available to public libraries in January or February at the Department of Libraries Continuing Education Website.  Pre-registration is required, and if participation is limited, preference is given to those working in a public library.  Often only one person per library can attend.


Pertinent courses, workshops, and seminars may apply toward certification.  Candidates for certification may receive credit for courses only if they have been taken in the last five years.  The maximum number of credits allowed for each academic course is 30. All library courses from:  1) any ALA accredited institution; 2) the University of Vermont;  or 3) the Vermont State College system will be automatically approved.  Approval for any other current course work must be obtained in advance from the Certification Board.



Upon satisfactory completion of a course, an individual should supply the Certification Board Chair with documentation such as a grade report, transcript, or a letter from the instructor.


Meetings that are skill-oriented and presented in a workshop-like format, such as pre-conferences of the Vermont Library Association, may be granted a maximum of two credits each. Organizations planning meetings should request a form from the Certification Board Chair for advance approval for certification credits.



Any person who is working toward certification may apply, but the applicant must have completed at least the four basic courses, as well as any basic course pertaining to the topic to be studied independently, if applicable.  For example, a person proposing to do an internship in Storytelling must have taken a course in Storytelling prior to his/her internship, as well as the four basics.


Internship is practical, on-the-job work experience in public librarianship (in a library other than the candidate's), with close supervision of an advisor/mentor (either a librarian or a person skilled in the area to be studied).

Independent Study is research in public librarianship or completion of a special library project supervised by an advisor/mentor, usually resulting in a written report.  Some suggested projects might be, but are not limited to, developing a long-range plan, or special programming and services for specific populations.

Certification credit is not given for attending a library reading/discussion program.  It may be given to an individual who coordinated such a series only if:

a)  an original project is conceived and implemented with the help of a mentor (this includes securing funding, selecting materials and personnel, conducting publicity and evaluating the project.); 

b)  prior approval for the project is secured from the Certification Board Chair.


Up to 25 credits may be granted for each internship or independent study program.  Credits will be determined by the Certification Board according to the number of hours spent on the job or in research; one working day (8 hours) will equal 5 credits; one week (40 hours) will equal 25 credits.


Applications outlining the proposed study/project objectives and name of advisor/mentor must be submitted to the Certification Board prior to starting the internship or independent study project.  Applicants will be notified in writing within 4 weeks after submitting their application to the Certification Board. 


The applicant is expected to initiate all the necessary arrangements for his/her program including the written consent of an advisor/mentor.  Any expenses incurred such as food, lodging, and travel must be assumed by the individual or his/her library.


An advisor/mentor is critical to a successful learning experience.  A signed application indicates a commitment by both parties to the project as stated.  No credits toward certification will be awarded to the advisor/mentor and a mutually agreeable arrangement for expenses incurred should be made with the applicant.  An evaluation of the project as outlined below must be submitted to the Certification Board.


When the project is completed, the individual and his/her advisor/mentor must submit evaluations of the project to the Certification Board on forms

  Credits toward certification will not be added to the individual's record until both evaluations are reviewed by the Certification Board.

A written research project for independent study may be submitted to the Certification Board in lieu of an evaluation. 


Application and evaluation forms are available from the Certification Board Chair. 




The five members of the Board are: the State Librarian; the Continuing Education Coordinator; the President of the Vermont Library Association or a representative appointed by him/her; and two members appointed by the State Librarian for three year terms to represent the public library and public library trustee sectors.


The Certification Board meets at least once annually to review the files of candidates for certification to determine their eligibility. Candidates who have completed all requirements by May 1 of a given year will be awarded a Certificate of Public Librarianship at that year’s annual Vermont Library Conference. Candidates eligible for certification may, at any time, request a letter from the Certification Board Chair stating that preliminary review of their records indicates that all requirements have been met, but the official certificate will not be awarded until the conference.

The Board is also empowered to enact any procedural changes in the program which seem appropriate.


The Certification Board welcomes questions about the guidelines or individual certification records or attendance.  Inquiries should be directed to:

Mara Siegel
Chair, Certification Board and Continuing Education Coordinator
Vermont Department of Libraries
109 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont 05609
Telephone: (802) 828-2727