What is a Graduate Certificate?
Graduate certificates are written certifications that students can get in a certain subject or field if they want to specialize in it. Getting a certification in library sciences indicates that an individual has met all the state-mandated criteria to practice library sciences in the area of their certification. Graduate certificates are meant to enhance employment opportunities and can replicate academic additives to a profession. The purpose of graduate certificate programs is to provide alternative academic avenues for students to advance their careers.
A graduate certificate in library science is an alternative educational path that students interested in library science or those with master’s degrees already can take. A graduate certificate in library science can provide a better chance of advancement in the profession or current area of study. Library science certificate programs are particularly useful to students who wish to pursue postgraduate studies and professionals wanting to secure more credibility in the field. The certificate is designed to provide an understanding of the means and methods of gathering, organizing, and disseminating information.
Students who want to learn more about the field of library and information science but can’t or don’t want to get a graduate degree can also benefit from a certificate in library science. This is true for both enrolled students and non-enrolled students who work as library paraprofessionals.
Why Consider a Graduate Certificate in Library Science?
Before applying to graduate school and after getting a bachelor’s degree, it’s important for students to look into all of their educational options. Many people want to continue their education but may not be aware of the options available to them. In exploring academic choices that best fit a student’s professional goals, some may take the traditional route after receiving a bachelor’s degree and go straight into a graduate program. Others may choose to gain experience in the field before considering going back to school.
Considering a graduate certificate in library science provides students the space to see if a career in library science is right for them. Those that are interested in a certificate in library science may want to highlight their resume and accomplishments with a graduate certificate when applying for jobs or promotions. Others may be interested in a career change and see pursuing a graduate certificate for a library specialization as the best fit for their goals. Or some may not be interested in the rigorous work that is involved in enrolling in a graduate master’s program.
Nonetheless, a certificate program provides a university-level form of specialized training. No matter what stage a student is in, they should think about getting a graduate certificate. Not only does it introduce interested students to a field, but it can also help them move up in their field. When thinking about a graduate certificate, it’s important to remember that a certificate in library science is easiest to get if you can commit to less than two years; a smaller class size means more individual attention and a higher chance of success; and a program costs between $12,000 and $15,000 on average. Overall, people who want to learn more and improve their skills in the information field should think about getting a certificate in library science.
Online Library Science Certificate Programs
Once obtaining a certificate in library science is confirmed, students must explore the various library science certificate programs available to them. Though there are numerous online graduate certificate programs in library science available, listed below are three states and their colleges that provide more than one online certificate program focused on library science and subjects related to information science.
City College of San Francisco—Online Program(s) Offered:
- Associate of Arts in Library Information Technology
Cuesta College – Online Program(s) Offered:
- Associate of Science in Library/Information Technology
- Certificate of Achievement in Library/Information Technology
- Library Services to Children Certificate of Specialization
- Searching and Researching Strategies Certificate of Specialization
- Web Page Coding Certificate of Specialization
Central Carolina Community College—Online Program(s) Offered:
- Associate in Library and information technology;
- Library and information technology diploma;
- Library cataloging certificate
- Library programs certificate
- Library public services certificate
- Library basics certificate;
- Certificate in library management
Central Washington University—Online Program(s) Offered:
- Type B Certificate in Library and Information Science
Spokane Falls Community College: Online Program(s) Available:
- Associate of Applied Science in Library and Information Services
- Library and Information Services Certificate
Prerequisites for a Graduate Certificate in Library Science
Once a student establishes they will be pursuing a graduate certificate in library science, it is important to look into the prerequisite requirements a program has and if all requirements are met before applying. Students who seek graduate certification as part of a degree program have to complete various academic courses before being admitted to the program. If a student is not seeking a degree within that program, then the student may be able to waive the program’s course prerequisites. Depending on the school and its requirements, they may differ from program to program, but below are listed a few of the main admission requirements a graduate certificate program may have.
Admission requirements may include:
- Hold an undergraduate degree from an accredited university or college
- Have an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or above or have a degree beyond a Bachelor’s degree
- Meet technology requirements
- Submit a personal statement that reflects relevant personal experience and academic background
- Submit a resume
- Complete the application form
- Pay an application fee
- Submit an official transcript from all universities attended
- GRE scores may be required. Students are responsible for arranging the GRE and having official scores sent to the institution of choice. Test scores for tests taken longer than five years ago may not be accepted.
What You Will Learn In A Library Science Certificate Program
Once enrolled in a certificate library science program, it is important to understand some of the skills and practices that are taught within the program. Library science certificate programs at different schools may have different learning outcomes, but most of them are designed to give students the knowledge and skills they’ll need to work with library users and manage library technology and systems. Some of the learning outcomes of a certificate program may have been:
- Demonstrate an understanding of the ethical and social frameworks in which information is used, organized, created, distributed, and contested
- Critically engage in the policies and practices of the field
- Conduct effective advisory that helps define user information needs
- Demonstrate understanding of general development and trends in library and information technology
- Effectively use library systems and databases
Students in a library science certificate program will learn a series of key skills that would be used in everyday tasks as library support staff. A library science certificate program prepares students for paraprofessional levels of library service. Paraprofessional tasks may include non-technical skills, such as customer service skills like listening, speaking, writing, attention to detail, and working as a team member. A few key technical skills a student may learn and be trained on are library functions, including collection management (selecting and acquiring materials), cataloging basics for Dewey and the Library of Congress, processing and repair of library materials, circulating and shelving materials, helping patrons with reference, resource sharing services, and managing a small library or media center.
Courses in a library science certificate program are designed for students with no library experience, for those returning to the workforce, or for those upgrading skills. Upon completion of a library science certificate program, students have fulfilled the proficiency requirements for the Library Support Staff Certification (LSSC). The LSSC Program is accredited by the American Library Association-Allied Professional Association (ALA-APA). Listed below are a few courses a library science certificate program may require.
- Information Literacy and Research Skills: A Course in Information Literacy and Research Skills is an introduction to research and library skills that include information about the production, organization, and dissemination of information within a societal context. This is beneficial when handling materials in a library and providing a reader’s advisory.
- Information Agencies: A Course in Information Agencies surveys the functions, personnel, organization, and history of information agencies and libraries in the U.S. This is beneficial when learning about the different library organizations that are available to have a career in and deciding which types of libraries best serve your professional interests.
- Reader’s Advisory: A course in reader’s advisory introduces students to genres of literature and techniques for patron interaction. Some topics may include library collection analysis, display creation, bibliographic tool development, and reading programs. This course is beneficial as the skills learned will be the skills required for most paraprofessional titles that hold a certificate-level education.
- Technical Information Services: A course in technical information services surveys all aspects of information agency and library technical services that include budget management, automation systems, government document management, resource description and access, serial management, and acquisitions.
- Collection Organization and Metadata: A course in collection organization and metadata introduces students to the classification and cataloging of information resources, including digital, audiovisual, and print formats. Students are introduced to the Library of Congress and Dewey Decimal classification schemes. Students use controlled vocabulary such as the Library of Congress Subject Headings for subject resources or analysis. They are introduced to ethical and professional standards of cataloging, with an emphasis on user access to information. This course is also essential for library science certificate-holding paraprofessionals because, within the career, organizing, searching, and collection management are required for the job.
- Indexing and Abstracting: A course in indexing and abstracting introduces students to indexing and abstracting practice and theory. Students learn about index quality, language control, and metadata standards. They practice back-of-the-book and information-object indexing. This skill is beneficial for paraprofessionals that will be tasked with cataloging materials for a library’s database. Understanding how a piece of library material is indexed and the language and access to that material are essential to the library science profession.
Career Options with a Graduate Certificate in Library Science
Graduate certificates are pursued by a variety of professionals for a variety of reasons. They enroll for continuing education and to develop a competitive advantage. It isn’t often that a graduate certificate is listed as a job requirement, but pursuing one is an excellent way for those seeking a job to stand out to recruiters as well as to expand on library science skill sets that can be helpful in the profession. A specialist certificate in library science empowers information professionals to update their skills and acquire expertise in other areas of the library profession.
Some specializations include archives administration, school media, youth services, digital libraries, academic librarianship, and reference services. Librarians with a specialization certificate can use their new skills to expand in their current job, transfer from the same employer to an advanced position, or seek a job with a new organization.
A certificate in library science is a never-ending benefit to those already in the profession and those just beginning their journey.
Title Options of a Certificate in Library Science
While searching for and pursuing a certificate in library science, it is helpful to know some of the alternative titles that the certificate may hold that provide the same or similar skill sets as someone who holds a certificate in library science.
Some similar certificate titles may be titled:
- Library Technical Assistant Certificate
- Certificate in Library and Information Services
- Certificate in Library Technology
- Searching and Researching Strategies Certificate of Specialization