By Diana Reese, Institutional Library Development, Colorado State Library

The news is out! The Executive Board of ALA approved the establishment of the Library Support Staff Certification Program (LSSC) at the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago. Endorsed by six of ALA’s eleven divisions (including ASCLA) and the Library Support Staff Interest Round Table, the program will accept applicants beginning January 2010. Based on the results of a 2004 survey conducted by the Library Support Staff Interests Round Table (LSSIRT), participation could be very high. Survey results showed that more than two-thirds of those working in libraries are support staff, and an overwhelming majority of respondents support a national certification program for these workers.

The LSSC program is based on 10 competency sets. Certification candidates must demonstrate achievement of six of the 10 competency sets in order to qualify for certification. Candidates can demonstrate achievement by taking an approved course or by submitting an electronic portfolio.

How can ASCLA and its members support the program and contribute to participants’ success? The initial need is for at least one approved course in each of the 10 competency sets. Any education provider may apply to have a course approved. Examples of potential providers include ALA divisions, state associations, multi-type library networks, consortia, state library agencies, colleges, as well as individuals. Approved courses must address all competencies within a set, and a small fee is assessed for course approval.

There will be an ongoing need for portfolio evaluators.  In addition to completing an approved course, candidates may demonstrate achievement through submissions to the program’s online portfolio system. This portfolio assessment method may be crucial to the success of the program, since many survey respondents indicated a certification program should have a way to recognize prior learning. The program will seek volunteers to be portfolio evaluators and will provide them with training.

Certification candidates will need mentors from the library community—individuals who can guide them and support them as they grow professionally and seek certification.

Finally, help is needed to get the word out about the program. Interested individuals or groups may schedule to attend an online webinar that explains the program in detail by using the contact information on the program’s website.

ALA president Camilla Alire said, “Library support staff are critical to the success of our libraries in meeting the needs of our users.”   What better way to serve ASCLA’s mission to enhance the effectiveness of library service than to lead the national library community in supporting this program as program promoters, course providers, portfolio evaluators, and candidate mentors?

For complete information about the certification program, go to http://www.ala-apa.org/lsscp.