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The Benefits of Support Staff Certification

by on April 3, 2013

The American Library Association (ALA) offers a program for non-degreed library workers called Library Support Staff Certification (LSSC).  “LSSC is designed to recognize the value and accomplishments of Library Support Staff. The Library Support Staff Certification Program is a national certification program sponsored by the American Library Association that allows library support staff to demonstrate their competencies and become a Certified Library Support Staff (CLSS). ”1

Grants from the Institute of Museum and Library Studies helped initially develop and fund the LSSC program, and the program began accepting applications for admission in January 0f 2010. Currently it is managed by the ALA-Allied Professional Association (ALA-APA), and inspired by the Western Council of State Libraries Library Practitioner Certificate Program which began in January 2007 and was discontinued as of April 1, 2009.  This was a similar program used to improve library services and to improve education for library directors and managers who did not have a graduate degree in library and information science.

In order to “graduate” and be certified, a student must complete six courses. Three are required and three are electives. Unfortunately the organization itself does not provide these courses, but instead partners with library programs throughout the country for course offerings. The courses and contact information can be found here.  In my opinion it would be better for the ALA-APA to offer their own online courses instead of outsourcing to different educational institutions. It seems a little unnecessarily laborious and clunky to contact the ALA site, and then look into colleges that will partner with them. It also is a drawback that potential students have to pay the college for the classes as well as the ALA for this certificate program.  Again, why wouldn’t the ALA just charge one price to its students and train people itself?

I think that the benefits can be immense for persons enrolled in this program. After all, any edge you may have in the workplace is a good thing. For example, if two part time circulation desk workers are vying for the same full-time position that just became available, the institution will likely consider this certificate as displaying commitment to the job and libraries in general. This program could also be a good stepping stone for someone who may be thinking about getting their MLS, and might not have the time or resources right now. They could work in a library, and perhaps further down the road join a Library Science Program.  This certificate will look good to future MLS programs  while weeding through potential candidates.

1.LSSC. ALA-APA. January 01, 2010. www.ala-apa.org (accessed March 13, 2013).