Library Assistant Job Desciption

If you want to work in a library setting, becoming a librarian is actually not the only option. For many, the educational requirements might be unrealistic given the large financial commitment they entail. Others might be discouraged by the prospect of handling complex research questions and being expected to deliver a correct answer. In these cases, becoming a library assistant can be a great decision.

These positions require less in the way of education, typically ranging from a high school diploma to an associate’s degree, but will usually require specific computer skills. This article will introduce you to the types of major tasks usually included in a library assistant job description.

Library Assistant Duties

One major aspect of library assistant work is circulation, which concerns all activities relating to the lending of books and other materials to library patrons.

This will often include checking books in and out; registering patrons and assigning library cards and accounts; and assessing and collecting late fines.

Many times library assistants assist users with basic computer use, for example how to use the online catalog to search and find books. (More in-depth research assistance is usually handled by reference librarians.) Behind the scenes, library assistants are increasingly assisting in the maintenance of library websites and updating various library databases.

In addition, library assistants might have clerical duties such as barcoding, helping process or catalog items, re-shelving, preparing materials for binding, and perhaps even mending damaged books.

Opportunities for Advancement

Library assistants with more experience, especially in a larger library, often shift from solely performing clerical and circulation duties to work more with the maintenance of automated library systems. Experienced assistants can also graduate to more of a supervisory role where they oversee the duties of other assistants and library pages. Some are even able to obtain their library degree while working in an assistant position and become a librarian.

Job Outlook

In general, the prospects for library assistants are good. While all types of libraries are facing budget pressures, this often actually helps library assistants as they take on more duties once performed by higher-paid librarians. Taking the time to sharpen your computer skills, either in an associate’s degree or certificate program or just for free on the web, is the best way to make yourself most desirable as a library assistant. Good things to focus on are databases, internet searching and automated library systems. Some library assistant jobs will require direct experience in these areas while others will train you on the job.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the wage for library assistants and technicians in 2008 ranged from $10-$17 per hour. Library technicians had a median wage was $13.86, while assistants earned $10.88 per hour on average.