1) Provide the legal definition of the occupation, including the existing legal scope of practice, where appropriate.
According to state rules, a person needs a school librarian license if they participate in any of the following activities related to a school library program: teaching; literacy and reading promotion; selecting library material; leading professional development; or planning, developing, implementing and evaluating school library programs.
2) How many people are licensed in this occupation in Michigan and how has this changed over the years? Does the law appear to be enforced?
In 2018, according to the Michigan Department of Education, there were 3,777 individuals who had a permanent teaching certificate with a library media endorsement. However, many are no longer working in Michigan schools and, in the 2017-18 school year, there were only 42 individuals with the library media endorsement employed by school districts. The number of school librarians in the state has declined by 73% since 2000 and 92% of schools don’t have a full-time librarian.
In Michigan, the total number of certifications has increased from 3,090 in 2007 to 3,777 in 2018. Nationwide, there were 44,180 school librarians in 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This number has steadily declined over the past decade by about 20%.
3) How many other states license this occupation? If possible, find data for state licensure of the occupation nationwide for the previous 10 years.
There is no known list of states that require school librarians to be licensed. The American Association of School Librarians lists 16 states with links to certification websites, but it is incomplete. Twelve states require some librarians, though not necessarily school librarians, to have some type of a license or certification.
4) Compare the licensing requirements to a sample of requirements from other states that also license the occupation.
Michigan law requires school librarians to have a bachelor’s degree, a valid Michigan teaching certificate and a library media endorsement. This endorsement requires a master’s degree in library science or library and information science. According to the American Association of School Librarians, many states have a library certificate which requires a bachelor’s degree and teaching certification, but only some — like Michigan — require a specific master’s degree.
In Ohio, school librarians typically need a teaching degree and master’s degree. But there is also a separate path for those without a teaching license that requires completing a course consisting of 57 credit hours.
In Indiana, there does not appear to be a licensing requirement for school librarians, though there are defined content standards — guidelines for what school librarians should teach. Librarians can be certified, but it’s voluntary. According to the latest annual educator summary licensing report from the Hoosier State, there were only three library certificates awarded and only six renewed between July 2017 and June 2018. There are multiple ways that aspiring librarians can obtain this certification with fewer requirements than Michigan, such as simply passing an additional exam or completing a custom certification program offered by a university.
5) Inquire of the state licensing board about the volume and type of health or safety complaints filed by consumers in relation to the occupation in question.
The number of health and safety complaints related to school librarians is nonexistent. A review of a state database of licensing complaints yielded none related to school librarians, or any librarians, for that matter.
6) Are there similar occupations that have significantly different licensing requirements?
There are dozens of similar occupations in Michigan that require fewer mandatory training than school librarians, including child care providers. Other school employees who provide instructional support, like paraprofessionals, are not required to be licensed.
School librarians also have another occupation which is very comparable: other librarians working in nonschool settings. To be eligible for state aid, directors of public libraries in Michigan need a certificate from the Library of Michigan, but other library employees do no need such certification. The requirements needed to qualify for the certification vary by the size of the library: directors in cities need a master’s degree and four years of library experience, while directors of libraries in small towns and rural areas need only a GED and one year of work experience.
7) Is there a difference in liability insurance costs between unlicensed occupations and licensed ones?
The authors were unable to find any company specifically insuring librarians. But the Association of American Educators, which supplies legal services and liability insurance to tens of thousands of school employees, does not charge different membership rates based on librarian licensing requirements. This suggest that licensing standards do not affect the exposure to risk insurers face in providing coverage to school librarians in different states.