Library technicians and assistants help librarians with all aspects of running a library.
What they do
A librarian technician and assistant assists patrons, organize library materials and information, and do clerical and administrative tasks.
Library technicians and assistants typically do the following:
- Loan library materials to patrons and collect returned materials
- Sort and re-shelve returned books, periodicals, and other materials
- Catalogue and maintain library materials
- Handle interlibrary loans
- Register new patrons and issue library cards
- Answer routine reference questions from patrons
- Teach patrons how to use library resources
- Maintain computer databases used to locate library materials
- Perform routine clerical tasks such as answering phones and organizing files
- Help plan and participate in special programs, such as used-book sales, story times, or outreach programs
A librarian usually supervises library technicians and assistants. Both technicians and assistants help patrons find information and organize library materials. However, library technicians typically have more responsibilities than library assistants.
Library technicians and assistants in small libraries have a broad range of duties. In large libraries, they tend to specialize in a particular area, such as user services or technical services. Those specializing in user services assist library patrons with locating resources and information. Those specializing in technical services research, acquire, catalog, and process materials to be added to the library’s collections.
The following are examples of types of library technicians and assistants:
Academic library technicians and assistants help students, faculties, and staff in colleges and universities access resources and information related to coursework or research projects. Some teach students how to access and use library resources. They may work at service desks for reserve materials, special collections, or computer labs.
Public library technicians and assistants work in community libraries to serve members of the public. They help patrons find books to read for pleasure, assist patrons with their research, or teach patrons how to access the library’s resources. Some technicians in public libraries may help plan programs for users, such as story time for children or book clubs for teens or adults.
School library technicians and assistants show students how to find and use library resources, maintain textbook collections, and help teachers develop curriculum materials.
Special library technicians and assistants work in settings other than school or public libraries, including government agencies, corporations, museums, law firms, and medical centers. They assist users, search library resources, compile bibliographies, and provide information on subjects of interest to the organization.
Library technicians and assistants generally work indoors. They spend much of their time at public service desks or at computer terminals. They may spend time in the library stacks re-shelving books, a task that may require bending or stretching to reach the shelves.
How to become a Library Technician and/or Assistant
Library technicians typically need a postsecondary certificate. Library assistants typically need a high school diploma or its equivalent, combined with short-term on-the-job training.
Library technicians typically need a postsecondary certificate in library technology, which may include coursework in acquisitions, cataloguing, circulation, reference, and automated library systems. The American Library Association has information about certificate programs available by state.
Most library assistants typically need a high school diploma or equivalent.
The median hourly wage for library assistants, clerical was $13.22 in May 2019. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $9.15, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $21.62.
Overall employment of library technicians and assistants is projected to decline 4 percent from 2019 to 2029.
Although communities have tried to rebrand libraries for a variety of services and activities, library use has decreased. This reduces the need for library workers to help patrons find information and operate the libraries on a day-to-day basis. Additionally, budget constraints may limit the number of library technicians and assistants in local government and education services.
Similar Job Titles
Circulation Clerk, Library Aide, Library Assistant, Library Associate, Library Clerk, Library Media Technician, Library Specialist, Library Technical Assistant (LTA), Library Technician, Page Technician, Acquisitions Assistant, Cataloging Assistant, Circulation Supervisor, Library Circulation Assistant, Library Clerical Assistant, Library Services Assistant, Braille and Talking Books Clerk
Medical Records and Health Information Technician; Hotel, Motel, and Resort Desk Clerk; Receptionist and Information Clerk; Secretaries and Administrative Assistants (Except Medical and Executive); Office Clerks-General; Paralegal and Legal Assistant; Billing, Cost and Rate Clerk; Bookkeeping, Accounting and Auditing Clerk; File Clerk
The trade associations listed below represent organizations made up of people (members) who work and promote advancement in the field. Members are very interested in telling others about their work and about careers in those areas. As well, trade associations provide opportunities for organizational networking and learning more about the field’s trends and directions.
- American Association of Law Libraries - AALL is the only national association that keeps law librarians and other legal information professionals on the leading edge of industry advancements and passionately champions the value of our profession.
- American Association of School Librarians - The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) is the only national professional membership organization focused on school librarians and the school library community. AASL has more than 7,000 members.
- American Library Association - ALA is the oldest and largest library association in the world with a mission “to provide leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.”
- Association for Library Collections and Technical Services - A division of the American Library Association. ALCTS is the national association for information providers who work in collections and technical services, such as acquisitions, cataloging, metadata, collection management, preservation, electronic and continuing resources.
- Association for Library Service to Children - ALSC's network includes more than 4,000 children's and youth librarians, children's literature experts, publishers, education and library school faculty members, and other adults dedicated to engaging communities to build healthy, successful futures for all children.
- Association of College and Research Libraries - Representing more than 10,000 individuals and libraries, ACRL (a division of the American Library Association) develops programs, products, and services to help those working in academic and research libraries learn, innovate, and lead within the academic community.
- Medical Library Association - MLA is a global, nonprofit educational organization, with a membership of more than 400 institutions and 3,000 professionals in the health information field.
- Music Library Association - This organization has an international membership of librarians, musicians, scholars, educators, and members of the book and music trades.
Magazines and Publications
Immersed in the dusty stacks, fingers running along book spines in search of an elusive title, a library technician spots their prey— just the book they were looking for! Library technicians and assistants are on a quest to keep libraries up to date and functional in our fast-paced, information-driven world. Library technicians and clerical library assistants help librarians with many aspects of library operations. They assist patrons, organize library materials and resources, and perform clerical and administrative tasks. Academic library technicians and assistants help students, faculty, and staff in colleges and universities access resources and information related to their coursework and research. Public library assistants work in municipal libraries that serve their communities. School library technicians show students how to find and use resources, maintain textbook collections, and help develop curriculum materials. There are also special libraries held by government agencies, corporations, museums, law firms, and medical centers, which employ these workers. Library technicians and assistants typically work part time. Though very similar to technicians’ work, clerical library assistants focus more on the administrative aspects of library operations. Most library technicians need to earn a certificate in their field or an associate degree. Library assistants typically need a high school diploma or equivalent and are usually trained on the job.
Content retrieved from: US Bureau of Labor Statistics-OOH www.bls.gov/ooh,
CareerOneStop www.careeronestop.org, O*Net Online www.onetonline.org