Library Technicians and Assistants

What Library Technicians and Assistants Do

Library technicians and assistants help librarians with all aspects of running a library.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6SVLIBmfkc

Work Environment

Library technicians and assistants work in local public libraries, corporate and specialty libraries, and school and university libraries.

How to Become a Library Technician 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.

Pay

The median hourly wage for library assistants, clerical was $13.22 in May 2019.

The median hourly wage for library technicians was $16.78 in May 2019.

Job Outlook

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.

Library technicians and assistants help librarians with all aspects of running a library. They assist patrons, organize library materials and information, and do clerical and administrative tasks.

Duties

Library technicians and assistants typically do the following:

  • Loan library materials to patrons and collect returned materials
  • Sort and reshelve 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 assistants, clerical held about 90,500 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of library assistants, clerical were as follows:

Local government, excluding education and hospitals 61%
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private 14
Elementary and secondary schools; local 11
Other information services 9

Library technicians held about 94,100 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of library technicians were as follows:

Local government, excluding education and hospitals 52%
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private 17
Elementary and secondary schools; state, local, and private 14
Other information services 10

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 reshelving books, a task that may require bending or stretching to reach the shelves.

Work Schedules

Many library technicians and assistants work part time. Library technicians and assistants in school libraries work during school hours. Those in public or college libraries may work weekends, evenings, and some holidays. In special libraries, technicians and assistants typically work during normal business hours but may have to work evenings and weekends.

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of library technicians and assistants.

Occupation Job Duties Entry-Level Education Median Annual Pay, May 2019

Librarians

Librarians help people find information and conduct research for personal and professional use.

Bachelor’s degree $59,500

Medical Records and Health Information Technicians

Medical records and health information technicians organize and manage health information data.

Postsecondary nondegree award $42,630

Receptionists

Receptionists do tasks such as answering phones, receiving visitors, and providing information about their organization to the public.

High school diploma or equivalent $30,050

Teacher Assistants

Teacher assistants work with a licensed teacher to give students additional attention and instruction.

Some college, no degree $27,920

For more information about library technicians and assistants careers, visit

American Library Association

For information about medical libraries, visit

Medical Library Association

For information about law libraries, visit

American Association of Law Libraries

For information about many different types of special libraries, visit

Special Libraries Association

O*NET

Library Assistants, Clerical

Library Technicians


Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Library Technicians and Assistants,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/library-technicians-and-assistants.htm (visited ).