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Certification for Librarians

Certification Program for Public Librarians


Certification for New Mexico public librarians is mandated by statute in the New Mexico Statutes Annotated (NMSA), Chapter 18, Articles 2-8 through 2-18. You can find the statute using the New Mexico Compilation Commission website.

Purpose of Certification

New Mexico Certification for Public Librarians is intended to:

  • Be administered to public library directors, but may be taken by anyone who works or is interested in working in a public library.
  • Improve library service in New Mexico by developing the skills of public library directors and staff.
  • Encourage public librarians to acquire and develop skills, through independent study and basic education.
  • Provide resources and tools that may be used for managing a library, in developing policies and plans for the library, and in working with boards and Friends of the Library groups.

To participate in the Public Librarian Certification Program, an application is required.

Why Become Certified

Professional and personal reasons for becoming certified:

  • Library director certification is required by NMSA 18-2-8 for librarians in communities over 3,000 as shown by the last federal decennial census and to receive public funds under the New Mexico Administrative Code (NMAC) 4.5.2.
  • To improve library service throughout the state.
  • Commitment to the profession of librarianship.
  • Personal fulfillment.
  • Career enhancement.

Types of Certification

  • Permanent Professional Certification is required for the chief librarian (director) in communities that have populations of more than 15,000, as shown by the last federal decennial census. An MLS or MLIS from a college or university accredited by the American Library Association is required. Certification will be issued without examination upon submission of an official college transcript.
  • Grade II Certification is required for the chief librarian (director) of communities having populations of 10,000 – 15,000, as shown by the last federal decennial census. Certification without examination is issued with either graduation from an accredited college or university with a minor in library science OR twenty-one (21) semester hours of library science courses beyond the requirements of Grade I Certification (30 hours).
  • Grade I Certification is required for the chief librarian (director) of a community having a population of 3,000 – 10,000, as shown by the last federal decennial census. Certification without examination is issued upon completion of two (2) years of undergraduate work plus nine (9) hours of library science courses from an accredited college or university.
  • Temporary Certification is issued for a one year period by the State Librarian in special cases upon written recommendation from a library board or the governing body of the community.

How to Become Certified Through Coursework

  1. Submit a completed application to the Development Bureau, with payment.
  2. For certification without examination, the fee is $5.00. 

How to Become Certified Through Exam

  1. Submit a completed application to the Development Bureau, with payment.
  2. Attend a Study Session.
  3. Take the exam with a proctor, and complete portfolio component if necessary (Grade II).
  4. Proctor submits exam.
  5. Development Bureau grades exam – if passing, Certification is recommended to State Librarian.
  6. State Librarian issues Certification.

Levels and Requirements

Grade I
Completion of certification exam with a passing grade of 70 or above.

Grade II
Completion of certification exam with a passing grade of 80 or above; and
Submission of portfolio within 4 weeks of taking the exam, receiving a passing grade.

Study Sessions





Santa Fe -- New Mexico State Library
9:00 am -4:00 pm

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Las Cruces – Thomas Branigan Memorial Library
9:00 am – 4:00 pm

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Central location (tentative)

Sign up after 12/1/2015

We strongly encourage all Certification applicants to participate in a study session. While the certification study guide covers many areas of librarianship and much of the material needed to begin working in a library, it does not fully paint a picture of the knowledge and background information needed to ready an individual to begin working in a New Mexico public library. Not all the material covered in the exam is explicitly covered in the study guide. The study session will best prepare the candidate for taking the exam. Study sessions will be 6 hours in length.

Other benefits of attending a live study session:

  • Peer networking
  • Dialog to enrich the learning experience
  • A chance to ask and answer questions
  • Learn about tools and resources that will support a successful career in librarianship

Study sessions will be given on a quarterly basis. All dates are tentative until 6 weeks prior to the date, at which time the date will be confirmed or modified and sign up will become available.

Exam – Grades I & II

Following attendance in a study session, the applicant can then proceed with taking the exam for certification. The following guidelines are for the exam only; the guidelines for Level II portfolio submissions follow in the next section. A person may take the exam at any time.

  • Location
    Completing the exam in a library setting is preferable, although the exam may be completed in an public space. On the application form, there is a place to indicate the approximate date and the specific location where the exam will be taken. Generally, exams are taken at a New Mexico public library that is convenient to the exam-taker's location.
  • Proctor
    The applicant must identify and contact a proctor for the exam. The proctor should contact Development Bureau for instructions on receiving the exam, proctoring, and submitting the exam.
  • Transmittal of Materials
    Ideally, the exam will be submitted in typed format, electronically. If necessary, an applicant may choose to handwrite the exam; please note, illegible submissions may not be graded and returned to the applicant to re-submit.
  • Time Limit
    The exam is designed to take the average applicant 2-4 hours. Exam time period should not exceed 6 hours.
  • Closed Book
    The exam is designed to be “Closed Book.” Outside sources or personal notes are not permitted into the testing area and may not be reviewed while the applicant is taking the exam.

Portfolio Component for Grade II Certification

Applicants of Grade II Certification are required to submit two (2) portfolio pieces along with taking the Certification exam. The portfolio pieces:

  • Must be submitted within 4 weeks of taking the Certification exam
  • Must receive a grade 3 or higher in order to pass
  • Will be graded according to the attached rubric

Applicants may choose any two (2) of the following options to submit for their portfolio:

  • Collection Development Policy
  • Community Assessment
  • Long-Range Plan
  • Technology Plan

Applicants are encouraged to use their nearest local public library as a model for writing their portfolio; however, applicants may choose another community in New Mexico.

Guidelines for Completing the Portfolio:

  • Must be typed.
  • May be “open book” and outside sources are encouraged to be referenced while completing the portfolio.
  • Does not need to be proctored.

Certification Exam Documents

  1. Librarian Certification Application
  2. Companion Guide for Library Directors and Staff (Version 0.5)
  3. Portfolio Grading Rubric
  4. Study Session Agenda
  5. FAQs about the Certification Exam
  6. Core Competencies for New Mexico Library Directors and Staff

For more information, contact: Library Development Bureau @1-800-340-3890 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

School Library Endorsement is available through the New Mexico Public Education Department.