FAQ on Wisconsin Public Library Director Certification

This is a link of Wisconsin public library director certification Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) and answers.

  1. Who should apply for certification?
  2. What determines the certification Grade level needed for each public library?
  3. What is needed to apply for a first regular public library director certification?
  4. What do I need to obtain a Grade II or Grade III Temporary Certification?
  5. What does “…official documentation or proof of required library courses” mean on the application form?
  6. A vendor asked, “What are the qualifications to issue CEUs to librarians who attend (free) on-line courses”?
  7. What is a continuing education (CE) activity?
  8. What is a Continuing Education Activity Report?
  9. Do you have an example of Continuing Education Activity Report?
  10. What do I send to the Division to renew my Regular Certification?
  11. Can I count any type of webinar as a continuing education learning opportunity?
  12. When can a webinar be considered a Category B activity?
  13. Is a particular learning activity Eligible or Not Eligible?
  14. What is the difference between CEUs, Contact Hours and Credits?

An “administrator” of a public library or public library system is, according to administrative rules, the head librarian or other person appointed by the board of the library or system to direct and administer the library or system. Having a properly certified library director also is one of the statutory membership requirements for belonging to a public library system.  Having a properly certified library director is one of the statutory membership requirements for belonging to a public library system.  In order for counties and public libraries to participate in, and receive the benefits of, the public library system state aid program, they must meet the membership requirements of the law. It is primarily the responsibility of the system to monitor membership and enforce compliance with statutory membership requirements. Public library systems, as well as public library directors, are notified of necessary certification or re-certification by the public library system office and the Division for Libraries' office.

Certification is not required by law for any other library staff.  Persons other than library directors may apply for any grade level and type of certification for which they are eligible.  However, there is a requirement that once you are certified, certification must be maintained on a continuing basis.  Individuals considering applying for voluntary certification are strongly encouraged to consult with the public library system continuing education validator for their area or the Division for Libraries and Technology before submitting an application to the Division.  To maintain certification an applicant must participate in 100 hours of continuing education every five (5) years.  Participation in learning activities can become prohibitively expensive if financial support is not extended to those persons who are not in director positions.

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The population reported by the U.S. Department of Commerce, bureau of the census in the last federal 10-year census determines the certification grade level required for each library director. In addition, Chapter PI 6 of the Wisconsin Administrative Code, with reference to Public Librarian Certification legally states the grade level required for library directors.

Grade 1 certification is required by a public library system director and administrator of libraries in a city, town, village or county public library with populations of 6,000 or more.
Grade II (2) certification is required for a library director of city, town, or village with populations of 3,000-5,999.
Grade III(3) certification level or greater is required for a library director within a city, town or village with a population of up to 2,999 persons.

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Items required for the first regular certification is determined by the Grade level of the library director. All library directors must complete an application for certification found at the first link on the certification page and a check for $50 processing fee sent to the Division for Libraries and Technology. Regular certification means that a person has the educational and specialized public library training to be the certified director for the next five (5) years according to the Wisconsin state statutes.

Grade I library directors must submit a copy of a Masters Degree from an accredited library school OR a copy of transcripts stating that a Masters in Library Science (MLS) was awarded by an ALA accredited library school.

Grades II library directors must provide copies of completion reports for all four (4) required library courses (12 semester credits) approved by the Division.
Educational requirements for Grade II -- bachelor's degree from a college or university approved by an accrediting association of more than statewide standing.

Grade III library directors must have taken at least 54 semester from a college or university approved by an accrediting association of more than statewide standing, half of which must be in the liberal arts and sciences; persons also must provide copies of completion reports for all four (4) required library courses (12 semester credits) approved by the Division.

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Both temporary grades must submit an application for certification and a check for $10 each year until temporary certification is fulfilled -- up to 4 years. In addition, the first temporary certification must include a list of the four (4) required online courses or the equivalent and the schedule for completing the courses.  Basic Public Library Administration must be taken in the first year of temporary certification.  At least one of the remaining 3 classes must be taken annually. Courses are:

  1. Basic public library administration (Taken in year one)
  2. Advanced public library administration*
  3. Organization and management of collections
  4. Public and community services

Grade 2 applicants with a bachelor’s degree and minor in library science, need complete only this course.*

Grade II library directors must provide a copy of a Bachelor's degree or a copy of an accredited college transcript.

Grade III library directors must provide a copy of transcripts stating at that at least 54 credits have been earned at an accredited college or university of more than statewide standing. At least half of the 54 credits must be in the liberal arts and sciences.

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The official documentation needed depends on the library position for which someone is applying.  For example:

First Regular OR Temporary Certification:
In addition to the completed application form and $50 or $10 check, the following items are needed.

Grade 1 Regular:  Copy of library degree or college transcripts.
Grade 2 Regular:  Copy of bachelor’s degree or transcript, copies of completion reports for four library courses.
Grade 3 Regular:  Copy of transcript recording at least 54 completed credits; half of the credits are liberal arts.

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Vendors of reference products have contacted the Division for Libraries requesting the “qualifications” to offer CEUS (continuing education units) to librarians. Vendors would like to encourage use of their product through a catalog of free courses that librarians could register for to enhance their understanding and use of a e-source, while obtaining educational credit at the same time.

The answer to the question is that no vendor is in a position to authorize credit for their product. The certification validator at the public library system determines whether an activity is worthy of credit. Library system validators should be cautious in allowing a vendor to attach value to their own instructional materials; a vendor’s “courses” primarily serve to increase use of the product which can then increase the value of the license.  A librarian would have to convince the system validator that use of this resource is somehow making them a more effective library director.  If a validator is uncertain of the course's merit, contact the Division for Libraries and Technology.

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Continuing education activities (otherwise known as Learning activities) must be planned, coordinated, administered, and evaluated in terms of learning objectives to qualify for re-certification.  The activity must contribute to the education of an individual beyond the initial certification requirements. Continuing library education must have all of the following elements:

  • Learning objectives
  • Activities that are used to meet the objectives
  • A process for evaluation to determine whether the learning objectives were met
  • An instructor or learning consultant

Continuing education opportunities include both formal and informal learning situations and need not be limited to library subjects or the offerings of library education programs, but must be related to the present position or to career advancement in the library profession.

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A Continuing Education Activity Report (form PI-2453) is a form completed for each activity that a director has participated in throughout a five-year re-certification period. The report forms are submitted to the public library system validators annually for approval. The components of the activity report include the title of the program, a description of the program contents, and the relationship of the program to the present library position or library career advancement.  The form is a record for the library director and validator that a workshop session, webinar, conference, etc. was attended.  It is also intended to be a reflection of an activity’s usefulness to a director’s current or future library position; in other words, the information gained that will help provide better library service to that director's library.

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  • Title of Program: Technology Training Skills for 21st Century Library Staff    
  • Description of Program:
    You know that phrase in your job description: "other duties as required"? This often means helping patrons learn to use technology. Every tech question presents an opportunity for instruction, but it takes the right skills and knowledge to provide a true learning experience for library staff and patrons.  Trainers shared  the competencies for tech trainers and gave practical advice on how to use competencies to support training in the library.
  • Relationship of Program to Present Position or Career Advancement:
    Up until now I assisted library staff maintain their workstations by checking for windows updates and keeping virus protections up to date.  In addition, file management, basic word processing, and spreadsheet skills were part of their office training.  As a director of a small library with few staff,  I need to develop technology skills to assist patrons find the information that they need through computer use. Patrons require assistance on a couple of levels. There are unemployed persons in the community who come to the library and need assistance accessing the internet, completing forms and updating resumes.  In addition, a youth group would like to use the library to create a blog for young adults.  So, attending this session gave me presentation ideas that I can use to structure sessions and provide programs for those with different skill levels.
  • Technology if any AND Total
    Program content may be completely about technology, while others may focus only a portion of the time on technology.  Please complete both boxes to maintain a total for the ten (10) hour requirement of technology hours within 5 years.

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Webinar participation should be approved by a public library system continuing education validator before viewing the webinar.  To do this:

  • Print out the registration and content details
  • Provide a detailed explanation about how the information will be applicable to their library position responsibilities.

Independently watching live (or archived) webinars that are sponsored by other organizations can count toward re-certification under Category C, self-directed study.  The number of hours that can be claimed under Category C is limited to 30 out of 100 over the 5 year certification period.

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If a public library system sponsors or co-sponsors a webinar and participants are given the opportunity to chat/discuss/email with other webinar participants or with the instructor that is considered a Category B activity. There are many of both types of webinars.  The important element to remember about webinars is the "eligibility” of the CE activities:

  • Is  the activity designed to keep the director abreast of new knowledge and developments within the library field
  • Does the activity enhance job competence or lead to a specialization in a new area of librarianship   

B category-related webinars are often Synchronous;
Synchronous learning refers to a group of people learning the same things at the same time in the same place.

Asynchronous learning is online learning, part of which is done when an individual has time and part involves live chat, email or some other form of communication with the instructor and/or the other students. An example of a category B webinar MAY be found on the University of Wisconsin-Madison Library School Continuing Education website.

Recording the questions and answers without the opportunity for interaction of any kind is a category C webinar.

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Q.  A director has presented a program to a library-related group as part of book club discussion.  The preparation, meeting, reading reviews and maintaining the minutes took many hours.  Is this an eligible CE activity?
A.  This is not an eligible CE activity because it is considered part of the director’s job.  It may be a voluntary part of a director’s job to do programming.  However, CE is considered an opportunity to learn new skills to improve as a director through course work or some other structured learning activity.

Q.  The manual states that an eligible self-directed CE activity is:
"Reviews of books in the field of library science or related to librarianship authored and published in the library/media-related field and read primarily by those in the profession." A director identified a book related to the library profession; the question was whether the time spent reading and reflecting upon the book was considered a learning activity towards re-certification.
A.   This bulleted learning activity is intended for persons who have reviewed books for the library profession.  Credit for reading books is not awarded unless you review manuscripts for a professional journal or give a presentation based on the information.

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  • CEUs are nationally recognized units for professional continuing education. One CEU is approximately equal to 10 contact hours. CEUs do not transfer to graduate credit. Graduate credits can only be earned by enrolling in graduate level courses.
  • A Contact Hour is 60 minutes of continuous participation in a learning activity.
  • Credit – Applicants for initial certification must have the educational requirements for the applicable grade level of library for which they are applying. (i.e. Masters degree, bachelor’s degree or 54 credits, etc.)  

Q. Are the 3 CEUs earned for completing a WI Public Library Certification course (i.e. Organization and Management of Collections) equivalent to 3 semester credits?
A.  Semester courses are longer than public library certification courses; 16 weeks/semester and 12 weeks/certification course. Semester courses (for academic credit) are worth more contact hours than the noncredit certification courses.  Each CEU is worth 10 hours.  3 CEUs are worth 30 hours.  Three (3) semester credits are worth 45 hours.

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For questions about this information, contact Terrie Howe (608) 266-2413