As booksellers prepare to gather in Baltimore for the American Booksellers Association’s 15th annual Winter Institute, the area’s regional association has announced a professional certification program for indie booksellers. The New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association, which represents booksellers from the mid-Atlantic and New York State, will offer the certification program for booksellers nationwide.

“For years, booksellers across the country have been asking for a ‘career path’ in bookselling,” said Bill Reilly, co-owner of the River’s End bookstore and NAIBA board president, in a statement. “I believe that NAIBA’s Professional Bookselling Certification will provide an important first step along this path.”

The five-module course will feature training programs on human resources, operations management, events, and inventory control, along with the basics of frontline bookselling. Booksellers who complete all five modules will become Certified Professional Booksellers. The organization is also offering a fast track module for long-time professionals.

The courses will combine online components with in-person courses at regional and national conferences. The first course will be unveiled later this year.

The new program follows a highly successful NAIBA conference in Cherry Hill, N.J. last fall, where workshops and round tables on improving professionalization drew significant interest from booksellers. Over 100 people attended the conference’s main workshop on improving human resources.

NAIBA executive director Eileen Dengler will be the point person for the program, taking inquiries from interested booksellers. Dengler said that while professionalization has always been a focus for booksellers associations around the country, the program will allow other booksellers to be able to see that someone has the appropriate training to do certain jobs. “People have been asking for some recognition for bookselling skills, and now NAIBA will make it happen.”