Library Technicians and Assistants

Career, Salary and Education Information

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What Library Technicians and Assistants Do[About this section] [To Top]

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 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
  • Teach patrons how to find and use library resources
  • Maintain computer databases used to locate library materials
  • Answer the phone, organize files, and perform other routine clerical tasks
  • Help plan and participate in special programs, such as used-book sales, story times, and 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 do 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 help 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; and 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 they 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[About this section] [To Top]

Library technicians and assistants held about 210,700 jobs in 2014. They work in local public libraries, corporate and specialty libraries, and school and university libraries.

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.

Library Technician and Assistant Work Schedules

More than half of library technicians and assistants worked part time in 2014.

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 or Assistant[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Library Technicians and Assistants near you!

Most library technicians need a postsecondary certificate or an associate’s degree. Library assistants typically need a high school degree and usually learn through short-term on-the-job (OTJ) training.

Library Technician and Assistant Education

Most libraries prefer to hire library technicians who have a postsecondary certificate or an associate’s degree. However, some smaller libraries might hire prospective technicians with only a high school diploma. Certificate and associate’s degree programs in library technology include coursework in acquisitions, cataloguing, circulation, reference, and automated library systems. In some cases, library technicians who work in public schools must meet the same requirements as teacher assistants.

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

Library Technician and Assistant Training

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

Important Qualities for Library Technicians and Assistants

Communication skills. Library technicians and assistants need to listen to and understand patrons’ needs, provide clear answers to questions, and teach them 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 for Library Technicians and Assistants

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


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Library Technicians and Assistant Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

The median hourly wage for library technicians was $15.54 in May 2015. 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 $9.34, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $24.82.

The median hourly wage for library assistants, clerical was $11.77 in May 2015. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $8.56, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $18.80.

More than half of library technicians and assistants worked part time in 2014.

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[About this section] [To Top]

Employment of library technicians and assistants is projected to grow 5 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Because of budget constraints, more libraries are hiring technicians and assistants to provide library services instead of traditional librarians. This is because technicians and assistants typically work part time and are cheaper to employ compared to librarians. Therefore, demand for library technicians and assistants should increase.

Library Technicians and Assistants Job Prospects

Candidates who can adapt to rapidly changing technology will have better prospects as a library technician or assistant. Those who want to become a library technician may have better job prospects if they obtain an associate’s degree or a certificate. Those who want to become a library assistant may benefit from obtaining a high school degree.

Employment projections data for Library Technicians and Assistants, 2014-24
Occupational Title Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24
Percent Numeric
Library technicians and assistants 210,700 221,900 5 11,200
  Library technicians 101,800 107,100 5 5,300
  Library assistants, clerical 108,800 114,700 5 5,900


*Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Used by permission.

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