Library Practitioner Core Competencies

Adopted October 20, 2004

The Library Practitioner Core Competencies have been developed by the Western Council of State Libraries as part of the "Continuum of Library Education" project funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, a federal agency that fosters innovation, leadership and a lifetime of learning. ( The Core Competencies were validated by a summer 2004 survey of librarians and library practitioners throughout the western states and adopted by Western Council on October 20, 2004.

In interpreting these core competencies, it is important to recognize that they relate to the role of library practitioners. A library practitioner, regardless of the job title held by any individual, is defined for the purposes of the Continuum project as "An individual who is a library director or manager and has no library science degree and requires additional formal library training to improve job performance and/or to achieve certification."

The following points are also key to understanding the core competencies and their application:

  • The core competencies describe those knowledge and skill sets that are required for competent performance as a library director/manager of a small, usually rural, public library in particular, a library that is independent and not part of a larger library system.
  • Certification of an individual with these competencies means that an individual is prepared to effectively administer such a library. Certification as a library practitioner does not indicate a professional-level mastery of these competencies.
  • Teaching of these competencies will emphasize practical applications rather than the conceptual and theoretical material typically found in a post-secondary, graduate-level educational program.
  • Application of these competencies by a library practitioner in the workplace will be at the practitioner, not the professional, level and will vary depending on the size, complexity and unique context of the library and its community.

Resources Used to Build Library Practitioner Core Competencies include the following:

  1. Oklahoma, Appendix Z, Institute in Public Librarianship. Oklahoma Certification Manual for Public Libraries
  2. Emporia State University. Information Management. Library Certificate Overview
  3. Public Library Director/Staff Competencies. State Library of Iowa/Iowa Library Service Areas. February, 2003.
  4. Montana Certification Program Manual. Rev/ July 1999.
  5. A Library Education Plan for Western North America. Western Council of State Libraries Education Task Force. Suggested Competencies for Library Practitioner Education. Bob Grover, Jan Elliott, Karl Madden. Draft, 2/15/02.
  6. "Competencies Developed by Christine Peterson," Texas State Library and Archives Commission, April 27, 2000
  7. Continuum of Library Education Action Team and Implementation Committee, May-June, 2004