New York State Library

Continuing Education

Studies show that one of the major predictors of success for public libraries is having an informed and knowledgeable librarian. Requiring professional development for certified public librarians benefits librarians, local libraries, library customers, and local communities. Keeping current about changing trends in library services enables public librarians to better meet the ever-changing information needs of the library’s customers.

Continuing Education Requirements

Public librarian professional certificates issued as of January 1, 2010, and thereafter shall only remain valid when 60 hours of professional development are completed every five-year period. Such periods will be defined as every five years from the initial certificate date (Commissioner's Regulation § 90.7).

Professional development activities are intended to help equip public librarians with the basic tools and information they need in order to deal with rapidly changing information technologies and environments. A wide range of options for professional development is available.

CR 90.7 requires professional development, but not necessarily in the formal sense of a college or graduate level course. E-courses, webinars, library system workshops, conference programs, and many other, less costly and time-intensive activities are acceptable.

Additionally, these 60 hours may include up to 12 hours accomplished through:

  • Supervised internship(s) for which no academic credit is awarded.
  • Instructional activities that include relevant content both created by and delivered by the public librarian professional certificate holder.
  • A supervised professional development project in a relevant content area for which no academic credit is awarded.

These activities must be documented by a letter of completion authorizing this qualifying credit. Certificates or transcripts showing successful completion of courses are acceptable forms of documentation, as are letters from a supervisor indicating completion of a program or project.

Maintaining Your Certificate

If a librarian fails to meet the professional development requirements, they may apply to the State Education Department for a temporary certificate for a fee of $5, for a one-year time period. Within this one-year time period the librarian must complete the hours missing from the previous five-year period as well as an additional hour per month. At the end of the year, when all requirements have been completed, or earlier if requirements are completed earlier, the professional certificate will be reinstated.

The professional development requirements apply only to those public librarians initially certified by the State Education Department on or after January 1, 2010. Librarians with professional public librarian certificates issued prior to that date are currently exempt. Those who received their certificates on or after January 1, 2010 who are working in a library or library system will have to accrue 60 hours of professional development every five years, whether they work full-time or part-time. Public librarians not employed in a library or library system must complete professional development every five years at a rate reduced by ten percent for every year not employed in a library or library system. (Note that this does not apply to certificate holders who received a certificate before January 1, 2010.)

The State Education Department does not require librarians working in public libraries that serve populations fewer than 7,500 to hold a professional certificate, although, if qualified, they are encouraged to apply for a professional certificate. If a professional certificate holder wishes to maintain an active certificate they must complete all continuing education requirements.

School Library Media Specialists

School Library Media Specialists are not included in the public librarian certification regulations because they are already required to take 175 hours of professional development credits every five years under the State Education Department’s Office of Teaching Initiatives. School Library Media Specialists who also hold a professional public librarian certificate may be able to apply their professional development credits required by the Office of Teaching Initiatives to their public librarian certification professional development.

Public Librarian Certificates from Other States

A public librarian certificate from another state cannot be transferred to New York State. You must apply for a New York State Public Librarian Professional Certificate through the New York State Education Department.

For more information about maintaining your NYS Public Librarian Certification, please browse the additional topics listed below.

Credit Hours

CR 90.7(3)(c) states that "Public librarian’s professional certificates issued as of January 1, 2010, and thereafter shall only remain valid when 60 hours of professional development is completed every five year period."

The State Education Department interprets the phrase "60 hours" to mean 60 clock hours. It is the responsibility of the professional development provider to determine the equivalent number of hours for each continuing education course that is provided.

The 60 contact hours must be completed within each five-year certification period. Up to 12 hours of the 60 hours can include instructional activities that contain relevant content both created by and delivered by the public librarian professional certificate holder.


As with other continuing education, the conference must cover an appropriate topic. You will receive continuing education hours only for the individual sessions/workshops that you attend, not for the entire duration of the conference. Please keep a record of the sessions/workshops you attended, their duration and their descriptions.

Formal Coursework

Formal coursework credits are accepted for professional development provided that they cover the suggested topics or other library-related topics. The school offering the course must make the determination as to how many contact hours the course would represent. Please ask them to provide that information to you in writing and keep the letter with your continuing education files.


Live webinars count if:

  • they cover an appropriate topic (see list below for a sample of eligible topics) and
  • you retain your registration confirmation information and a description of the class for your records.

Archived webinars count if:

  • they cover an appropriate topic and
  • you have, at a minimum, a copy of written documentation from a supervisor confirming that you participated.

When live webinar completion cannot be confirmed with a registration e-mail supervisory verification may be requested. In all cases a continuing education certificate is preferred if available. In all cases the New York State Education Department reserves the right to accept/deny credits.

Other Eligible Credit

Up to 12 hours of volunteer work may count if the time is spent completing a supervised professional development project in a relevant content area for which no academic credit is awarded. The supervisor must be a certified librarian. The details of the project must be documented in writing by the supervisor. Work meetings and professional organization meetings cannot be counted toward continuing education hours.

Keeping records

Continuing education certificates of completion are not required. If a certificate is offered please keep it for your records. If it is not offered please keep all other documentation related to the activity (description of activity, registration information and any other relevant documentation).

The Public Librarian Certificate holder is responsible for obtaining and keeping all records of continuing education hours. The State Education Department may request documentation at any time to verify completion of professional development requirements. The certificate holder should not send records of continuing education to the State Education Department unless they are requested to do so. The sample form is for personal record keeping only.

Continuing Education Record

The Continuing Education Record form (Excel) may be used to document your continuing education activities. Please do not submit this form to the New York State Education Department unless requested to do so.

Continuing Education Topics and Providers

Be sure to look for upcoming and archived continuing education opportunities from the NYS Library and the New York Library Association. Check with your library system or professional organization for additional opportunities.

Suggested topics include:

  • Administration
  • Adult Services
  • Archives and Special Collections
  • Automation
  • Awareness and Advocacy
  • Budget/Finance
  • Cataloging
  • Children’s Services
  • Collection Development and Management
  • Copyright
  • Conservation/Preservation
  • Construction
  • Customer Service
  • Digital Libraries
  • Digitization
  • Diversity Training
  • Early Literacy
  • Education
  • Grantwriting
  • Human Resources
  • Information Commons
  • Intellectual Freedom/Censorship
  • Leadership
  • Library Design
  • Literacy
  • Management and Supervision
  • Marketing/Branding
  • Mentoring
  • Outreach
  • Planning and Evaluation
  • Program Planning
  • Project Management
  • Public Relations
  • Reader Advisory
  • Records Management
  • Reference Services
  • Resource Sharing
  • Social Networking and Collaboration
  • Special Client Populations
  • Subject Specialization
  • Technology
  • Trustee/Council Training
  • Working with Older Adults
  • Young Adult and Youth Services

Disclaimer: The providers and course opportunities sections in these pages are not inclusive, and there may be other topics relevant to individual libraries and situations. Contact your public library system or the New York State Library for further information.

Resources for Employers

These professional development requirements enhance the recruitment and retention of public librarians in New York State. Encouragement of ongoing professional development for library staff by library boards and directors creates a supportive work environment that will enhance the recruitment and retention of a highly skilled library workforce. The New York Library Association (NYLA) and the Board of Regents recommend that the public librarians of the future constantly stay abreast of new developments and trends in library management, library services and library technology. This commitment will help promote excellence in New York State’s library workforce and will provide multiple career options for public librarians.

Professional development requirements are already standard practice in school librarianship and the teaching profession as well as in the 52 other professions licensed by the New York State Education Department.

Public libraries serving populations under 7,500 in New York State are not required to hire a certified public librarian, so libraries serving small communities are not affected by the professional development requirement for public librarian certification. However, studies show that one of the major predictors of success for a public library is having informed and knowledgeable librarians. The New York Library Association (NYLA) and the New York State Education Department recommend that public library boards, regardless of the size of the library, make ongoing professional development for library staff and trustees a priority. A skilled and knowledgeable library staff that is trained to meet information needs benefits both the library users and the local community. A trained and knowledgeable library board realizes the critical link between a skilled staff and quality library services.

Requiring professional development for certified public librarians should not affect a local public library’s capacity to comply with any existing Education Laws or Commissioner’s Regulation. The education requirements for public library directors as outlined in Commissioner’s Regulations 90.2 and 90.8 will remain the same.

To verify a candidate’s certificate status, the State Education Department provides the names of approved holders of public librarian professional certificates on its web site. All privacy and security issues are handled in accordance with the New York State Education Department’s Internet Privacy and Security Policy.

Information for Library Trustees and Directors

First, library directors and trustees should familiarize themselves with the regulations and determine if the regulations will apply to any positions at their library. Public libraries serving populations under 7,500 are generally not affected, unless the library has professional librarian positions. Public libraries serving populations of 7,500 or more are at minimum required to employ a paid certified professional public librarian as director in order to meet minimum public library standards.

Second, if the regulations do apply, then the library director and trustees should think about what internal policies or controls the library might put in place to ensure that the public librarians they employ are successful in meeting the new requirements. Also think about how the library will handle the situation if an employee’s certification is suspended. A librarian without an active New York State certification may not be employed in a professional librarian position. This certification requirement has been in place since 1909 and it applies regardless of whether the librarian position is full time or part-time.

Third, the library director and trustees should think about what kinds of policies, structure, support and encouragement the library can provide to assist individuals in completing and documenting their professional development within required time frames. Will the library provide financial support for staff to attend classes or professional conferences? Allow time on the job for staff to complete online courses? Formally recognize staff for completion of professional development activities? Include documentation of professional development as part of the annual performance plan and evaluation process.

Role of the Public Library System

The major role of the library systems in assisting with successful implementation of the new requirements of CR 90.7 is to continue to provide and promote a wide range of high-quality professional development activities for librarians and staff. Systems should be prepared to respond to a possible increase in requests from participants for written documentation that such activities have been successfully completed.

Library systems and boards should consider the following questions:

  1. Is the library system able to indicate to the workshop participant the number of contact/clock hours that will be earned through each continuing education activity?
  2. What kind of written documentation will the library system provide to participants who request such documentation? Will the library system provide a formal certificate of completion indicating the name of the provider, the activity, the date, the number of contact/clock hours completed, complete with an original signature? Will this written documentation be in the form of a certificate or a letter? Who will sign such a document?
  3. Will the library system have a policy/procedure in place to track workshop participants in the event someone returns at a later date and requests such documentation? There is no requirement in CR90.7 that library systems must provide a tracking system. If it is the system’s intent not to track workshop participants, then this should be made known at each professional development event.
Last Updated: September 27, 2023