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Commission relaxes standards for Montana librarians

Missoula Public Library
Josh Burnham
Missoula Public Library

A decision by The Montana Library Commission means Montana will no longer require leaders at its largest libraries to hold a master’s degree. The decision was widely opposed in public comment.

The Montana Library Commission voted 5-2 to remove the requirement, which applies to libraries serving more than 25,000 people. The master’s requirement was previously linked to state funding for libraries.

Proponents said the decision would increase candidate pools and allow for more local control in director appointments. Local library boards can still set their own education requirements for their leaders.

Opponents of the decision, including Judy Meadows, Board Chair at the Lewis and Clark Public Library in Helena, said large libraries are complex institutions that require specialized training to run.

"The skills, knowledge, and ethos of that director were learned while in graduate school."

Public comment opposed the decision by a four-to-one margin.

The directors of all but one of the libraries affected by the ruling said in a letter to the Commission that removing the standard left them “disappointed and dismayed."

A bill in the state Legislature seeking to regulate science curriculum in public schools got its first hearing Monday. The legislation’s sponsor says by banning scientific theories, the policy aims to prevent kids from being taught things that aren’t true.

John joined the Montana Public Radio team in August 2022. Born and raised in Helena, he graduated from the University of Montana’s School of Media Arts and created the Montana history podcast Land Grab. John can be contacted at
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