About The Montana Certification Program For Library Directors, Staff, and Trustees

The Montana State Library Commission established the Montana Library Certification Program in 1990 as a completely voluntary program. The goals of the original certification program were to:

  • Improve library services throughout the state
  • Motivate librarians, staff and trustees to acquire, maintain and develop their skills through continuing education
  • Recognize individuals who update their knowledge and skills on a continuing basis in order to provide better library services to their patrons
  • Improve the public image of librarians and libraries
  • Provide guidelines for governing boards to use to select and retain personnel

The certification program was updated in 1997 and certification became a requirement for directors of the state's smaller public libraries. The certification requirements remained unchanged from the original 1990 program.

The certification program reflects continual changes in the skills and knowledge needed by librarians to serve their communities, so regular reviews of the original program are done. Beginning in 2006, Montana State Library staff participated in the development of a regional certification program with the Western Council of State Libraries. Initially, it was planned that the Western Council certification would replace the state program, but when the new program officially launched in 2008, the requirements and costs were prohibitive for many Montanans. As a result, the State Library decided to update the Montana Library Certification Program rather than replace it with the Western Council program.

To this end, the Montana program underwent an update in 2009. State Library staff and an 11-member Focus Group of volunteer librarians, library support staff, and trustees worked together on the update.

The Focus Group met in February 2009 to develop initial update requirements for certification. These recommendations were announced and librarians, staff, and board members provided input through an online survey, at the annual library conference, and on the statewide listserv. The data received was compiled and considered by the Focus Group in June and changes were made to the certification requirements in response to this input.

The Focus Group's revised recommendations were presented and discussed at the State Library Commission's August 2009 meeting. Following the meeting, the recommendations were posted on the statewide library listserv so that additional comments could be received and shared with the Commission. The revised recommendations were approved by the Commission in October 2009. The updated program was launched in January 2010. The title was changed to the Montana Certification Program for Library Directors, Staff and Trustees to clarify that the program certifies not the library, but the people who work for the library and serve the community.