Librarian Certification and Good Vibrations
by Rose Noel, Senior Assistant, INALJ Kentucky
I felt the vibrations as I entered the library. There was a new energy pulsing through the beautiful, but normally serene public library building. I wondered as I stuffed my purse into a spare employee locker whether I had forgotten a particularly grand event planned for the day and chided myself for not checking the online events calendar. Deftly avoiding human interaction, I made my way to the volunteer timesheet log and signed myself in. As usual, I had to glance at the display of a nearby workstation to secure the correct date and time.
Soon I learned the source of the mystery buzz about the library, several staff members had just returned from the KPLA (Kentucky Public Library Association) Spring Conference. I had been aware of the conference, but as it happened to fall on my birthday and I was not yet a certified librarian in Kentucky I dismissed the idea of going. I am still a student and I mistakenly thought the primary motivation for the trip would be the accumulation of CEUs (continuing education units). I had mentally regulated such events to the realm of the perfunctory. I didn’t get why everyone seemed so jazzed, but I was happy for them and made my way to a workstation to get started on my task for the shift.
I was indexing digital images and absent-mindedly listening to Tom Petty on my iPhone, when a bevy of professionals entered the workspace near me. The happy post-conference buzz was still evident and I began to reconsider my take on the continuing education element of conference-going. The contagious enthusiasm that had followed the staff home from Lexington didn’t come from the accumulation of CEUs; it came from experiencing a valuable and rejuvenating dip in the sparkling stream of the profession, where ideas are shared, connections are revitalized, and neglected passions are rekindled. I promised myself that I would ask to join the group excursion for the next KPLA conference; even if I wouldn’t yet need CEUs because I realized that what I really needed was the community, the sense of shared purpose, and total immersion in the professional culture.
I suppose that this is part of the reason that even in states where certification is not required. professionals still attend conferences, take professional development courses, host and attend webinars and seminars, keep up with the professional literature, participate in listservs and forums, and pursue countless other “continuing education” opportunities. The cynical view of plugging along for recertification credits misses the mark by forgetting the ethos of the profession. It would be impossible for a field dedicated to the development and support of lifelong learning, to not be populated by lifelong learners.
In the long slog towards the MLS, I almost forgot why I want it. I got bogged down by the many hoops of navigating grad school and let my weariness color my perception of life after school. The requirement to acquire Kentucky state certification and renew it every five years seemed to me like an extension of the various obstacles. It is a nice epiphany to realize that to continue doing the work I want to be doing, I must demonstrate the engagement I already have in the profession- which is less a chore and more of a mandate to pursue the interests that brought me here in the first place.
Do you know whether your state or prospective state of employment requires librarian certification? If not, make it a priority to find out. Certification costs range from $0 to $80 dollars in the 30+ states with librarian certification.
Rose Noel is a University of Kentucky graduate student in the School of Library and Information Science. She lives in Independence, KY with her husband and two young children. Rose’s professional interests are primarily in public libraries in the areas of outreach, technical services, digital preservation, and adult & children’s services. Rose is motivated by the positive interactions she has with library users, particularly when transferring technological skills to digital non-natives. She hopes to serve in a library that caters to a diverse population, strives to develop web & information literacy skills amongst users, and supports lifelong learning.