Library Technicians and Assistants


Quick Facts: Library Technicians and Assistants
2017 Median Pay $29,050 per year 
$13.97 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education  
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training  
Number of Jobs, 2016 203,500
Job Outlook, 2016-26 9% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 18,800

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Library Technicians and Assistants Career, Salary and Education Information

What Library Technicians and Assistants Do

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.

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library technician

Duties of library technicians and assistants

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.


Work Environment for Library Technicians and Assistants

Library assistants, clerical held about 104,300 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of library assistants, clerical were as follows:

Local government, excluding education and hospitals: 59%

Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private: 15%

Elementary and secondary schools; local: 12%

Other information services: 8%

 

Library technicians held about 99,200 jobs in 2016. 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: 16%

Other information services: 6%

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 for Library Technicians and Assistants

About 2 out of 3 library technicians worked part time in 2016, and about one half of library assistants worked part time in 2016. 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.


How to Become a Library Technician and Assistant

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 Association 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.


salaries for Library Technicians and Assistants 

The median hourly wage for library assistants, clerical was $12.41 in May 2017. 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 $8.96, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $20.12.

The median hourly wage for library technicians was $16.20 in May 2017. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $9.73, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $26.04.

 

In May 2017, 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: $13.45

Local government, excluding education and hospitals: $12.07

Other information services: $10.80

In May 2017, 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: $19.02

Elementary and secondary schools; state, local, and private: $16.62

Local government, excluding education and hospitals: $14.98

Other information services: $14.93

About 2 out of 3 library technicians worked part time in 2016, and about one half of library assistants worked part time in 2016. 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.


Job Outlook for Library Technicians and Assistants 

Overall employment of library technicians and assistants is projected to grow 9 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Communities are increasingly turning to libraries for a variety of services and activities. Therefore, there will be a continuous need for library technicians and assistants to help patrons find information and operate the libraries on a day-to-day basis. Parents value the learning opportunities that libraries present for children because libraries are able to provide children with information they often cannot access from home. In addition, the increased availability of electronic information is also expected to increase the demand for research and special libraries, where patrons will need help sorting through the large amount of digital information.

However, budget constraints may limit the growth of library technicians and assistants in local government and education services.

Job Prospects for Library Technicians and Assistants

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

Employment projections data for Library Technician, 2016-26

Employment, 2016: 203.500

Projected Employment, 2026: 222,300

Change, 2016-2026: +9%, +18,800


Careers Related to Library Technicians and Assistants 

Librarians

Librarians help people find information and conduct research for personal and professional use. Their job duties may change based on the type of library they work in, such as public, academic, and medical libraries.

Medical Records and Health Information Technicians

Medical records and health information technicians, commonly referred to as health information technicians, organize and manage health information data. They ensure that the information maintains its quality, accuracy, accessibility, and security in both paper files and electronic systems. They use various classification systems to code and categorize patient information for insurance reimbursement purposes, for databases and registries, and to maintain patients’ medical and treatment histories.

Receptionists

Receptionists perform administrative tasks, such as answering phones, receiving visitors, and providing general information about their organization to the public and customers.

Teacher Assistants

Teacher assistants work under a teacher’s supervision to give students additional attention and instruction.

OccupationENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION2017 MEDIAN PAY
LibrariansMaster's degree$58,520
Medical Records and Health Information TechniciansPostsecondary nondegree award$39,180
ReceptionistsHigh school diploma or equivalent$28,390
Teacher AssistantsSome college, no degree$26,260

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