ASSOCIATES (2009, November, v. 16, no. 2)


Library Support Staff Certification Program

Kareen Turner
Lending Supervisor
University of Arkansas

The Library Support Staff Certification Program has gotten the green light. It’s official, American Library Association approved it in Chicago and a test pilot has been started. Have you been asked if you were a librarian just because you work in a library? Do you want recognition for the job that you have been doing without an MLS or MLIS? After many years and lots of discussion, paraprofessionals or support staff may now work for a national certification that will give you that recognition and acknowledgment for a job well done. The LSSC Program is the first national, voluntary certification program for library support staff and started a trial phase in October 2009 with five library organizations across the United States:

  1. State organization – Texas Library Association
  2. Community College – Highline Community College (WA)
  3. Regional Library System – Lincoln Trail Libraries System (IL)
  4. State Library – Louisiana State Library
  5. Division of ALA – Association of Library Collections and Technical Services (ALCTS)

The Library Support Staff Certification (LSSC) Program will accept candidates for certification in January 2010. The LSSC Program is sponsored by the American Library Association, the ALA-APA and the Western Council of State Libraries; and is managed by the American Library Association-Allied Professional Association (ALA-APA), a companion association to the American Library Association (ALA). It is funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The LSSC Program was approved by the American Library Association to be an official certification of ALA in July 2009.

“The LSSC is the first national, voluntary certification program for library support staff. Course providers may be organizations or individuals with the expertise, training, and resources to offer courses online or face-to-face. The ten competency sets for which courses are needed are in the areas of foundations of library services, technology, communication and teamwork, access services, adult readers advisory, cataloging and classification, collection management, reference, supervision and management, and youth services.” See the website at:

Four years ago, I was asked to get involved in the ALA-LSSIRT group as a paraprofessional. I was finishing my term as chair of our state library association’s paraprofessionals’ group, the Arkansas Library Paraprofessionals, or ALPS as we call ourselves, and had served on the executive council of that group in different capacities for three years. When I went to my first conference at the Midwinter Conference in Seattle in 2007, I walked into a room not knowing how involved I would get or how concerned I would become about support staff in libraries. I have worked in libraries, beginning as a library aide in high school, a work study student in college, and on into a career with academic and military base libraries. I wanted to get my MLS; I loved working in my libraries and thought I could make a contribution to that world. I liked the organization and classification of books. Instead I married a guy that would join the United States Air Force and never get stationed near an accredited MLS program. However, I managed to get jobs in the “local” military libraries in Omaha, Nebraska and Lakenheath AB, England, UK and failing that, local bookstores in Bossier City, Louisiana and Landstuhl, Germany. I can truthfully say my career has always centered on being surrounded by books. I still dream about getting my MLS degree, but for now I’m happy doing what I do and loving the detective work that Interlibrary Loan creates each day. I correspond with support staff members all over the world. Through LSSIRT, I’ve developed friendships with fellow staff members across the nation and have even met some great support staff from other countries. We were all interested in learning more about our jobs, getting the recognition we deserve and the respect and support from librarians that we work with and work for, keeping current in technology that will help us to do our job better and help our patrons find what they want and need.

Fifteen years after my husband has retired from the USAF and 12 years after restarting my career at the University of Arkansas’ University Libraries, I am very excited and proud to say I have been accepted into the Library Support Staff Certification program’s test pilot. I’ve signed up for an online course and am looking forward to creating a portfolio to be audited for certification.