Pay us and we’ll think about letting you teach

Is it just me or does anyone else find this weird? I ran across this press release from ALA-APA re: looking for course providers for their library support staff certification program.

On October 1, 2009, ALA-APA will begin accepting applications from education providers interested in offering courses for candidates in the Library Support Staff Certificate Program (LSSC). The LSSC is the first national, voluntary certification program for library support staff.  Course providers may be organizations or individuals with the expertise, training, and resources to offer courses online or face-to-face.  The ten competency sets for which courses are needed are in the areas of foundations of library services, technology, communication and teamwork, access services, adult readers advisory, cataloging and classification, collection management, reference, supervision and management, and youth services.

Potential providers complete a course approval application, and submit a course syllabus, a description of the course’s teaching methods and assessment plan, and the instructor’s resume.  The course must cover all the competencies in a competency set.  The fee to be considered for approval is $100 each of the first and second courses submitted, and $50 per class for each additional course.

Candidates will have at least a high school diploma or equivalent, and have worked in a public or academic library for at least one year.  Candidates have the option of completing approved courses or submitting online portfolios that demonstrate their achievement in six of ten competency sets.

The application will be evaluated by a committee of American Library Association member volunteers using a course evaluation rubric.  Reviews will be held periodically throughout the year and ALA-APA will notify applicants of their status.  Approved courses will be publicized and available to all LSSC candidates.  Courses that are approved will maintain that status, barring major changes, for four years.

Funded by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the LSSC Program is in a testing phase in five library organizations across the United States.  The program will begin accepting candidates in January 2010.  Based on survey information and other expressions of interest, project staff estimates that at least 300 library support staff will participate in the LSSC program in the next three years.

The LSSC Program was approved by the American Library Association to be an official certification of ALA in July 2009.  More information about the LSSCP is available online at  Please direct questions to Jenifer Grady at or 312-280-2424.  The program will be managed by the American Library Association-Allied Professional Association.

ALA-APA: the Organization for the Advancement of Library Employees is a service organization to the American Library Association and has as one of its missions supporting salary improvement initiatives for library workers.

Now, I don’t mean to be snotty, because I like a lot of what ALA-APA does. But is it strange to request a $100 fee just to be considered to teach one of these courses? Or is it just me?


  1. Angel:

    I don’t think you are being snotty at all. That sounds like some racket basically since I am sure they (ALA-APA) are also going to be charging the students for the courses offered. I am already not convinced by the “high school graduate or equivalent or having worked a year in a library” experience requirement. I will be snotty and say janitors will likely have that experience. Can they apply to have a course approved? It just does not pass the smell test for me.

    Best, and keep on blogging.

  2. Marcy B:

    This is the way that the Medical Library Association runs its “MLA-approved CE” program, as well. I don’t know that I like it, but it seems to be the way things work. I do understand that there is a certain amount of overhead involved with 1) reviewing courses, 2) approving courses, and 3) maintaining the clearinghouse of all MLA-approved activities. But the fees always seem too high to me to support that kind of overhead.

  3. Michael Golrick:

    I find it fascinating that this is raising comments now. A few years ago, the ALA-APA followed exactly the same process to recruit course providers for the Certified Public Library Administrator (CPLA) Program. I do not remember a single comment.

    It is not the “racket” that Angel suggests, since ALA-APA gets no money for the courses, that fee (if any) goes to the course provider. In addition, the experience level Angel cites is for the intended audience of the courses, not the course providers. I will note that the paragraph about candidates may well be misplaced, and helps to lead to that confusion.

    I have just finished teaching, as part of a team, the first field test course under this program. Let me note that in the course approval process, there was a great deal of work done by ALA-APA in reviewing the detail of the syllabus to ensure that the course covered all of the material required by the competencies in that area.

    I am glad that March B noted that this is similar to the way that the Medical Library Association works — I think that technically it is the Academy of Health Information Professionals.

    And I would note that $100 is cheap for the support provided.

    I just think that there is some fundamental mis-understanding, and hope that I have been able to clarify some of the issues.

  4. rachel:

    Thanks, Michael, for the more detailed explanation — it’s useful.

  5. Nancy Bolt:

    I’m the co-Project Director of LSSC and would like to follow up on Michael’s comments. The course provider process needs to be in the context of the whole program. Library support staff have been asking for recognition of their accomplishments through a national certification program for, literally, decades. With the help of an IMLS grant this is finally going to be in place, starting in January of 2010. To make it work we need courses in the 10 competency sets for the LSSC candidates. We want those courses to be of a high quality so we are asking those provding the courses to send us the curriculum, vita of the teacher, how they will assess achievement, etc. Once approved, we will help the providers publicize their course to the LSSC candidates.
    ALA-APA has to support its own costs. It is charging $100 for the first two courses and $50 for all the rest — one of the lowest you will find. ALA preconferences cost more than that. It’s up to the provider how much they charge the students. We don’t think the fee is large even if the provider doesn’t charge the students at all. If the provider does charge, they can easily recover $100 or $50 in the tuition.
    Actually, we hope you will encourage organizations you work with to apply to be a course provider. We want the learning experience of the library support staff to be of a very high quality. You can get more information on our new website:


  6. Paul Birchall:

    It doesn’t bother me that much, because one can only assume that most of the people applying for the teaching positions are going to be flogging their own books or videos or what not, as they do at Learning Annex Programs here in LA. Why shouldn’t those teachers have to pay to play? They stand to make a lot more money from their students when they plump their products.

Leave a comment

  • October 13, 2009 at 7:14 pm Betsy (bentley) Vera
    And it doesn't even say something like "refundable upon acceptance" or something along those lines.
  • October 14, 2009 at 3:44 am Rachel Singer Gordon
    Guy on my facebook says that's how accreditation works, see ;)

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