Public Librarian Certification Commission

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The NC Public Librarian Certification Commission was formed in 1936 to set minimum standards for public librarians to protect and maintain public library resources, to assure professional management and administration of library services, to meet the personnel requirements for State Aid administered by the State Library of NC, and to guarantee the best possible public library service to all North Carolinians.

The North Carolina General Statute 143B-68 states that the commission must be comprised of: the Chairman of the public libraries section of NCLA, two individuals named by the Governor upon nomination of the NCLA, the dean of a State or regionally accredited graduate school of librarianship in North Carolina appointed by the Governor, and one member at large appointed by the Governor. Commission members appointed by the Governor serve 4-year terms, all others serve 2-year terms.

Commission meetings are held quarterly to review applications and discuss Certification policies and procedures.

The commission's meeting dates for the 2023-2024 year are October 13, 2023, January 26, 2024, April 12, 2024, and July 19, 2024. All meetings are held at the State Library of NC beginning at 11:30 a.m. unless otherwise posted. Information about meetings can be found on the North Carolina Secretary of State's meeting calendar.

Have questions about certification? Contact us at

The application is available online. A confirmation email will be sent in response to online submissions. 

Note: Scanned and emailed transcripts from the applicant are not considered “official” for the purposes of NC Public Librarian Certification. Please have hardcopy or electronic transcripts sent directly from your university, or mail us an original, hardcopy version. Electronic transcripts are preferred and official transcripts must list the date your degree was conferred. Transcripts without the degree conferral date will not be accepted. 

Individuals who have served in the military and/or their spouses may wish to review General Statute 93B-15.1.

Submit completed application and official transcripts to:


Public Librarian Certification Commission 
c/o Library Development Section 
State Library of North Carolina 
4640 Mail Service Center 
Raleigh, NC 27699-4640



Public Librarian Certification Commission Members as specified in G.S 143B-68. 
Nomination to the Commission Commission Member Term Expires
 *(i) Chairman of the Public Library Section of the North Carolina Library Association Carrie Lee
Regional Library Manager, Wake County Public Libraries
 *(ii) Named by the Governor upon the nomination of the North Carolina Library Association Brian Hart
Assistant County Manager, Person County
 *(iii) Member at large appointed by Governor as member Wanda Kay Brown
Director of C.G. O'Kelly Library Services, Winston-Salem State University. 
 *(iv) Dean of a State or regionally accredited school of librarianship in NC - appointed by Governor Dr. Lisa O'Connor
LIS Department Head and Chair, University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
 *(v) Named by Governor upon the nomination of the North Carolina Library Association Nina Chaffin
Director, Union County Public Library.


07 NCAC 02J .0101 Purpose of the Commission

  1. The North Carolina Public Librarian Certification Commission sets minimum standards for certification for public librarians to accomplish the following purposes:
    1. Guarantee the best possible public library service for all North Carolinians;
    2. Protect and maintain public library resources;
    3. Assure professional management and administration of library programs; and
    4. Provide certified professionals to meet the Department of Cultural Resources' personnel requirements for State and other aid administered by the State Library of North Carolina.
  2. The Commission shall review applications and certify those librarians who meet the certification requirements enumerated in Rule .0102 of this Section.

07 NCAC 02J .0102 Full Certification

  1. The North Carolina Public Librarian Certification Commission shall issue public librarian certificates to applicants who have received graduate degrees in library and information science from programs accredited by the American Library Association or from regionally-accredited programs of higher education in North Carolina.
  2. Coursework must include the following core courses:
    1. cataloging,
    2. reference,
    3. collection development, and
    4. library management.
  3. Courses specifically designed for school, media center, academic, or special librarianship, must reflect general principles of librarianship.

07 NCAC 02J .0103 Application Procedure for Public Librarian Certification

Applicants shall send a completed application form for public librarian certification, accompanied by an official transcript which contains the date of conferral of the degree, to the Library Development Section of the State Library of North Carolina.

NCGS 93B-15.1b Additional Factors for Consideration in Application Process (for Military Service and Military Spouses)
Please provide:

-If you are Certified as a public librarian in another jurisdiction, we will need a photo copy of the certification.
-Employment information to determine whether you have worked in a public library for 2 of the last 5 years, including employer contact information.
-A copy of your US Uniformed Services Identification and Privilege Card as proof of your status as a military spouse.

Documents can be uploaded in the application

The following information illustrates the terminology and concepts associated with the four core courses (Cataloging, Reference, Collection Development, and Library Management) and guides the interpretation process for the commission in the review of applications for NCPL Certification.


Traditionally known as cataloging, or the organization of (library) collections/materials.  Such a course introduces the principles of organizing bibliographies, library catalogs, and collections, and the systems of organization. It covers the content of bibliographic/information records in printed and electronic form, choice and form of access points, authority control, descriptive and classified systems of subject access, and the impact of new technologies in organizing information content and material culture.  When there were fewer media, technologies and systems of organization, the course used to be the starting point in preparing students interested in becoming catalogers, but now they should take more specialized courses in Cataloging and Classification, Metadata Management, Introduction to Bibliographic Metadata, etc.  Most core courses now have the objective to enable students to understand and use catalogs, bibliographies and other organizing systems.

  • Course titles associated with this core course include: (Basic/Beginning) Cataloging and Classification; Organization of Information/Knowledge; Creating Information Infrastructures; Information Organization and Access; Cataloging; Information Representation and Access; Information Structures; Introduction to Knowledge Organization; and Bibliographic Organization and Resource Development.


Such a course is an introduction to reference and information services and resources, providing fundamental knowledge and skills enabling information professionals to link users with information.  It may include the history and varieties of reference services, structure of literature in different fields, information-seeking behavior of user groups, instruction, information literacy, ethics, access issues, the reference interview, search strategies, evaluation of services, and the organization, selection, evaluation, and use of major information resources in various media.

  • Course titles associated with this core course include: Information Sources and Services; Information Access; Reference and Information Services; Serving Information Needs; Information Sources and Retrieval; User and Access Services; Information Access and Resources; and Reference and User Services.

Collection Development

This course introduces students to the knowledge required to identify, evaluate, and select print and non-print materials for on-site and off-site access.  Due to the evolving nature of electronic publishing and its distribution, more specialized knowledge in interpretation of legal contracts, consortium buying and purchasing of access packages to e-resources are needed in the collection development process, with fewer librarians involved in the process and needing to apply such skills.  It is for this reason that fewer programs are requiring collection development as a core course.

  • Course titles associated with this core course include: Collection Development (and Management); Collection(s) Management; Collection Development and Acquisition of Library Materials; Developing Library Collections; and Management of Information Collections.

Library Management

This course introduces students to the theory and practice of management of different types of libraries and information organizations.  It may include administration principles, and management techniques and procedures addressing authority, communications, decision making, delegation, leadership, personnel, planning, budgeting, motivation, human resources, evaluation, facilities and resources management, and project management. 

  • Course titles associated with this core course include: Library Management; Managing/Management of Information Organizations; Leadership and Administration of Information Organizations; Management of Libraries & Information Centers; Administration & Management of Libraries and Information Centers; Organizational Management (and Strategy); Administration of Libraries; Management; Administration of Information Agencies; Administration and Management; Achieving Organizational Excellence; Leadership and Management Principles for Library and Information Services; Information Agency Management; and Principles of Management for Librarians and Information Professionals.

April 12, 2024

January 26, 2024

October 13, 2023

June 9, 2023

What forms do I need to submit to apply for certification?

Submit the online application form, as well as your official transcript which states the date of conferral of degree. Official transcripts must be mailed or emailed directly to the State Library from the institution. Original, hard-copy transcripts may also be submitted, but copies of original transcripts cannot be accepted. Electronic transcripts are preferred.

Send all electronic transcripts to Transcripts should be mailed from degree-granting institutions to the State Library at:

Public Librarian Certification Commission
c/o Library Development Section
State Library of North Carolina
4640 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-4640

When can I expect to receive my paper certificate?

NC Public Librarian certificates are printed after each quarterly meeting, and certificates can take at least a month to obtain the required signatures and to be received in the mail. If you need proof of certification before your paper certificate arrives, email with your request and a proof of certification letter can be provided.

How do I find out if my school's MLS program is accredited by the American library Association?

The American Librarian Association has a searchable database of accredited programs where you can find out if your school is currently accredited. 

I went to library school 20 years ago - am I still eligible for certification?

Yes, as long as you have taken courses within the required competency areas, you will be eligible to apply regardless of when you received your degree.

I took a certification course, attended continuing education seminar, or did field experience related to one of the course competencies - will those be considered for certification?

At this time certificate courses, continuing education seminars, and field experiences will not be considered in lieu of graduate courses for certification.

Do undergraduate courses in library science count toward certification?

At this time, undergraduate courses in library science are not considered for certification.