Thursday, May 2, 2013

Buying an MLS, Part II

How Broke Would You Be with Library Certification?

People argue every year about the MLS, that it doesn't teach what it should, or that it costs too much, or that it's unfair to people who don't have time to get it or are too lazy to get it or are too stupid to get it or are too drunk to get it, or that it doesn't stand for Major League Soccer.

So as a reference, I took a brief look at what it takes to become a certified Library Media Specialist in the state of New York.

First, there is all this shit:
Requirements for Permanent Certificate, School Media Specialist (Library)
Following are all possible pathways available to receive the certificate specified above. The specific requirements to satisfy each pathway are also listed. 
 Pathway: Certificate Progression
 Hold a Valid Provisional Certificate - School Media Specialist (Library)
 Additional Education - Masters Degree
 Paid, full-time Classroom Teaching experience - 2 Yrs
 Workshop - Child Abuse Identification
 Workshop - School Violence Intervention and Prevention
 Fingerprint Clearance
 Citizenship Status - INS Permanent Residence or U.S. Citizenship
Well, I don't remember exactly what it took to get my MLS, but I don't remember any 2 yrs of paid library experience or Library Violence Intervention workshops or even getting fingerprinted. I just showed up at the back door of the library and two weeks later, I picked up a check.

And after all that, there's this:
If you are employed in a New York State public school…
You must complete 175 hours of professional development every five years. This maintains the validity of the Professional certificate and allows you to continue to teach. The first professional development period begins on July 1 following the effective date of the certificate.
175 hours? That's longer than it took for James Franco to drink his own pee and saw off his arm. So that extra 48 hours might have me also sawing off my own foot.

And then there's testing, the New York State Teacher Certification Examinations. The one for Media Specialist will certify that you (0001-0005 and others omitted)
0006 Understand types and characteristics of print, nonprint, and electronic resources.
0007 Understand types and characteristics of literature for children and young adults.
0008 Understand issues and procedures related to collection development.
0011 Understand how to locate and access resources and how to teach these skills to students.
Now I'll stop here. Because 0011 would kill me. Because, yes, although I understand how to locate and access resources, I have not a fucking clue on how to teach these skills to library patrons who don't have more than 15 seconds of free time and who don't listen to what I say and who are probably hallucinating that I'm some talking moose there to steal his gold.

I can't imagine all the shit a public librarian would need to know for certification:
0001 Understand types and characteristics of library patrons, including loonies, crazies, smellies, normals, babies, seniors and tweens.
0014 Understand types and characteristics of portable reading devices such as Kindles, iPads, iPhones and Androids and Chinese knockoffs of all of the above.
So when you complain about the expense or relevance of the MLS, think about what it might be like to work in a career with continual professional requirements.


  1. Just to share, it's equally involved her in California. To get a certificate you have to have a valid teaching credential to even begin the library certification process. Getting the teaching credential (through a real teaching program instead of a certificate mill) is just as expensive as an MLIS and requires student teaching, which is unpaid full-time teaching. So unless you have a night job at 7-11 you can pretty much kiss any career or job you already have goodbye. You will also be required to take out loans since you no longer have a job that will pay your rent or for groceries. My thoughts were, why not just get the MLIS? It's less expensive and you come out with a real, recognizable degree instead of a credential that will limit you professionally.

  2. In Indiana, public librarians do have to do continuing education. It's between 50-100 hours every five years to maintain our certification depending on our job classification.