Library Technicians and Assistants


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

Library technicians and assistants help librarians with all aspects of running a library. They assist patrons, organize library materials and information, and perform 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. Library technicians and assistants usually help patrons find information and organize library materials. However, library technicians typically have more responsibilities than library assistants, such as administering library programs and overseeing lower level staff.

Library technicians and assistants in smaller libraries have a broader range of duties. In larger libraries, they tend to specialize in a particular area, such as user services or technical services. Technicians and assistants 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, book clubs for teens or adults, or other educational or recreational activities.

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 libraries in 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 94,400 jobs in 2018. The largest employers of library assistants, clerical were as follows:

Local government, excluding education and hospitals 60%
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private 14
Elementary and secondary schools; local 12
Other information services 8

Library technicians held about 94,700 jobs in 2018. The largest employers of library technicians were as follows:

Local government, excluding education and hospitals 53%
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private 17
Elementary and secondary schools; state, local, and private 14
Other information services 8

Library technicians and assistants generally work indoors. They spend much of their time at public service desks or at computer terminals. Some 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 regular school hours. Those in public or college libraries often work weekends, evenings, and some holidays. In corporate libraries, library technicians and assistants work normal business hours but may be asked to work overtime.

Library technicians typically need a postsecondary certificate. A high school degree combined with short-term on-the-job training is typically required to become a library assistant.

Education                                                                                               

Most libraries prefer to hire library technicians who have a postsecondary certificate. Certificate programs in library technology include coursework in acquisitions, cataloguing, circulation, reference, and automated library systems. The American Library AssociationOpens in a new tab. has a list of certificate programs available by state.

Most library assistants typically need a high school diploma or equivalent.

Training

Library assistants usually receive some short-term on-the-job training to learn about libraries and library resources.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Library technicians and assistants need to listen to and understand patrons’ needs, answer questions clearly, and teach patrons how to use library resources.

Detail oriented. Library technicians and assistants must pay close attention to ensure that library materials and information are organized correctly and according to the library’s organizational system. Cataloging and processing library materials also requires attention to detail.

Interpersonal skills. Library technicians and assistants provide customer service to library patrons and work with librarians, teachers, or researchers.

Technology skills. Library technicians and assistants use computers to help patrons research topics. They also use technology to maintain the library’s database of collections.

Advancement

Library technicians and assistants can advance as they assume additional responsibilities in other areas of the library. Some may become supervisors and oversee daily library operations. To become a librarian, technicians and assistants need to earn a master’s degree in library science.

The median hourly wage for library assistants, clerical was $12.74 in May 2018.

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 $9.04, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $20.88.

The median hourly wage for library technicians was $16.37 in May 2018.

The lowest 10 percent earned less than $10.26, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $26.40.

In May 2018, the median hourly wages for library assistants, clerical in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private $14.33
Elementary and secondary schools; local 13.65
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 12.43
Other information services 11.42

In May 2018, the median hourly wages for library technicians in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private $19.49
Elementary and secondary schools; state, local, and private 17.28
Other information services 15.22
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 15.02

Many library technicians and assistants work part time. Library technicians and assistants in school libraries work during regular school hours. Those in public or college libraries often work weekends, evenings, and some holidays. In corporate libraries, library technicians and assistants work normal business hours but may be asked to work overtime.

Library Technicians and Assistants

Median hourly wages, May 2018

Total, all occupations

$18.58

Library technicians

$16.37

Library technicians and assistants

$14.25

Library assistants, clerical

$12.74

 

Overall employment of library technicians and assistants is projected to decline 3 percent from 2018 to 2028.

Although communities have tried to rebrand libraries for a variety of services and activities, library use has decreased. This reduces the need for library technicians and assistants 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.

Job Prospects

Candidates who can adapt to rapidly changing technology will have better prospects as a library technician or assistant.

Employment projections data for library technicians and assistants, 2018-28
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2018 Projected Employment, 2028 Change, 2018-28 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Library technicians and assistants

189,100 183,400 -3 -5,600

Library technicians

25-4031 94,700 91,900 -3 -2,800 Get data

Library assistants, clerical

43-4121 94,400 91,600 -3 -2,800 Get data

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 2018

Librarians

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

Master’s degree $59,050

Medical Records and Health Information Technicians

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

Postsecondary nondegree award $40,350

Receptionists

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

High school diploma or equivalent $29,140

Teacher Assistants

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

Some college, no degree $26,970

For more information about library technicians and assistants careers, visit

American Library AssociationOpens in a new tab.

For more information about licensure for library support staff, visit

Library Support Staff CertificationOpens in a new tab.

For information about medical libraries, visit

Medical Library AssociationOpens in a new tab.

For information about law libraries, visit

American Association of Law LibrariesOpens in a new tab.

For information about many different types of special libraries, visit

Special Libraries AssociationOpens in a new tab.

O*NET

Library Assistants, ClericalOpens in a new tab.

Library TechniciansOpens in a new tab.


Suggested citation:

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


 

Tracey Lamphere

Tracey Lamphere, M.S. IMC is the editor of Job Affirmations, a publication that provides information and ideas to use mindfulness, positive affirmations, and visualizations to transform your career.

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