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Certification of Librarians

Librarian Certification Application Process

All materials become the property of the Washington State Library and will not be returned. Portfolios are evaluated by a committee that meets monthly. Depending on when you submit your application and materials and how difficult it is to contact your university or references, it may therefore take as long as 12 weeks to receive final notification on the status of your application.

Please mail applications, fee, and any materials to:
The Washington State Library
Attn: Librarian Certification Program
PO Box 42460
Olympia, WA 98504

The certification process differs depending on which of the above groups you fall within:

Applicants with an ALA accredited library program degree

  • Submit the Application for Librarian's Certification Adobe Reader - Click to Download, along with a $20 check to cover administrative costs to the address given below. All applications must include an official transcript verifying your degree. The transcript must be sent directly from the issuing school to the State Library. Official transcripts sent to us by the applicants are not considered valid.
  • You can expect to receive your Librarian's Certificate or be contacted by us within 4 weeks from when we receive your application, or from your date of graduation, whichever is later. Recent graduates: timelines for verification are dictated largely by how long it takes for your University to release grades. Please refer to the FAQ for more information.

Applicants without an ALA accredited library program degree

State law dictates certain minimum requirements for an application (noted as ‘required’ below). To comply with state law, the portfolio must demonstrate that “the applicant has attainments and abilities equivalent to those of a graduate of a library school program accredited or otherwise officially recognized by the American Library Association (ALA).” (RCW 27.04.055) It is therefore recommended that you submit whatever materials in addition to those required that will best support your application.

  • RequiredApplication for Librarian's Certification Adobe Reader - Click to Download with a check for the $20 fee.
  • Required—Official transcripts reflecting completion of the minimum 36 quarter credits/24 semester credits of Master's level professional curriculum. These should be sent to us directly from your school. You are strongly encouraged to include a copy (unofficial is sufficient) with the portfolio materials you send to us as well with the relevant courses highlighted or otherwise marked. In the event that course names do not clearly indicate content, it may be necessary for you to provide course descriptions—it is strongly recommended that you include these in your original application to save time.
  • Required—Letters of reference from employers or instructors that indicate your ability to initiate and carry out effective programs of library service. Whenever possible, these letters should be sent directly to us from your references. Please submit a minimum of 3 letters of reference. Please include current contact information for each individual.
  • Required—Foreign applicants must provide translated copies of materials not in the English language, in addition to copies in the original language.
  • Professional resume, including any volunteer library work as well as participation in library associations.
  • Any other materials that may support your application, at your own discretion. State law provides some details regarding what the ALA accredited MLS equivalency should cover (WAC 300-12-020). Strong portfolios will address all of these requirements.


The necessity for certification of librarians in Washington is established in the Revised Code of Washington (RCW), Section 27.04.055 and further detailed in the Washington Administrative Code (WAC), Chapter 300-12.

State law requires that “no library serving a community having over four thousand population, nor any library operated by the state or under its authority, may have in its employ, in the position of librarian or in any other full-time professional library position, a person who does not hold a librarian's certificate issued by the state librarian.” (RCW 27.04.055). This law does not apply to the State Law Library or to county law libraries. The State Library has the authority to grant librarian certificates to:

  1. Graduates of library schools programs accredited or otherwise officially recognized by the American Library Association for general library training. ALA has a list of accredited degree programs on their website.


  2. Candidates who present “domestic or foreign college or university transcripts from accredited institutions showing successful completion of a minimum of thirty-six quarter credits or twenty-four semester credits in the professional curriculum. This curriculum shall be in library/information sciences or a closely related program—including, but not limited to, coursework in such areas as reference and bibliography, cataloging and classification, and administration—equivalent to master's degree level work. Applications must include favorable references from employers or instructors—must be library related—indicating the applicant's ability to initiate and carry out effective programs of library service.” (WAC 300-12-015) State law indicates that applicants meeting these minimum requirements are to be given an examination—“a formal written one equivalent to that routinely administered to graduating candidates for a master's degree in library and information sciences.” (WAC 300-12-015) As most universities now require graduating master's candidates to submit a portfolio of their professional work in lieu of a formal examination, the State Library has adopted this practice as well.


For additional information regarding the certification process not found in our FAQ, or to check on the status of your application, please contact:

Librarian Certification
Washington State Library
PO Box 42460
Olympia, WA 98504-2460
Jeremy Stroud
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