Sunday, January 13, 2008

Proposal of National Library Support Staff Certification

The American Library Association and the Western Counsil of State Libraries have received a grant to evaluate and develop a national certification for library support staff workers.

The reasons for developing a national certification:
  1. Standardize expectations for library support staff
  2. Master job competencies
  3. Provide educators with guidance in developing curriculums
  4. Help employers articulate job requirements.
The basic eligibility for the certification is that you are a high school graduate, have worked in a public library one year out of five years and wishes to obtain or validate a specific level of library support competencies.

As usual I have questions. Questions like:

Is my learning obsolete? Will I have to return to class if the certification ask for knowledge that was not part of my curriculum at the time I got my PCC library certification?

Will this certification program be used as a weeding out process for those current library support staff that can't pass the new certification?

Will the certification actually mean anything? For example, there is a basic level certification test known as the A+ for computer repair. In the past this certification was easy to obtain.

You could buy a book with a CD simulation of the test and cram for it without having to perform the actual skills. So you have a lot of folks that passed the A+ certification but couldn't really fix your computer. They had no real training. The test has since been redesigned.

Is this a way to control how much or how little information a library support person should have to perform their jobs? Maybe certain libraries don't want library support staff to have Ready-Reference skills. Or you want staff to have better customer service skills as opposed to knowing how to find information from LC or Dewey.

Is this a way to reduce the role of Librarians? Many cities and school districts are not hiring as many librarians as they should. If library paraprofessionals are acting in place of a librarian what does that person really need to know?

If you would like more information on the proposed national certification program please visit the ALA - Allied Professional Association at

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