Library Technicians and Assistants

Summary

library technicians and assistants image
Library technicians and assistants help patrons find library resources.
Quick Facts: Library Technicians and Assistants
2012 Median Pay $26,800 per year
$12.89 per hour
Entry-Level Education See How to Become One
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training See How to Become One
Number of Jobs, 2012 216,600
Job Outlook, 2012-22 12% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2012-22 25,200

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.

Work Environment

Library technicians and assistants work in public, school, company, and university libraries. Many work part time.

How to Become a Library Technician or Assistant

Most library technicians need a postsecondary certificate or an associate’s degree. Clerical library assistants usually learn through short-term on-the-job training.

Pay

In May 2012, the median hourly wage for library technicians was $14.74. The median hourly wage for library assistants was $11.27 in May 2012.

Job Outlook

Employment of library technicians and assistants is projected to grow 12 percent from 2012 to 2022, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Libraries will use these workers to take over some of the duties of librarians, whose hourly wages are usually higher.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of library technicians and assistants with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about library technicians and assistants by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Library Technicians and Assistants Do About this section

library technicians and assistants image
Library technicians and assistants help shelve and organize materials.

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 patrons’ questions and help them find 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, storytimes and outreach programs

Library technicians and assistants are usually supervised by a librarian. 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 in user services assist library patrons with locating resources and information. Those in technical services research and acquire, catalog, and process materials to be added to the library’s collections.

The list that follows gives examples of types of library technicians and assistants based on the type of library they work in:

Academic library technicians and assistants assist students, faculties, and staff in colleges and universities. They help students, faculty, and staff 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 their community libraries to serve all members of the public. They help patrons find books to read for pleasure; assist patrons with their research for schoolwork, business, or personal interest; 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 user, search library resources, compile bibliographies, and provide information on subjects of interest to the organization.

Work Environment About this section

Library technicians and assistants
Cataloguing or reshelving books may require bending or stretching to reach shelves.

Library technicians and assistants held about 216,600 jobs in 2012. They work in local public libraries, corporate and specialty libraries, and school and university libraries.

The industries that employed the most library technicians and assistants in 2012 were as follows:

Local government, excluding education and hospitals54%
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private17
Elementary and secondary schools; state, local, and private16
Information6

Library technicians and assistants generally work indoors. They spend much of their time at public service desks or computer terminals. Most also spend time in the library stacks while reshelving books, a task that may require bending or stretching to reach the shelves.

Work Schedules

More than half of clerical library assistants worked part time in 2012.

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

Library technicians and assistants
Library technicians and assistants sort and shelve returned books.

Most library technicians need a postsecondary certificate or an associate’s degree. Clerical library assistants usually learn through short-term on-the-job training.

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.

To obtain an associate’s degree or a certificate in library technology, candidates must take classes 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.

No formal education is required for clerical library assistants. Most libraries prefer to hire assistants who have earned a high school diploma or GED, but some will hire high school students.

Training

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

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Library technicians need to listen to and understand patrons’ needs, provide clear answers to questions, and teach patrons and students how to use library resources.

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

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 on teams with librarians and, at times, teachers or researchers.

Advancement

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.

Pay About this section

Library Technicians and Assistants

Median hourly wages, May 2012

Total, all occupations

$16.71

Library technicians

$14.74

Library technicians and assistants

$12.89

Library assistants, clerical

$11.27

 

The median hourly wage for library technicians was $14.74 in May 2012. 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 $8.86, and the top 10 percent earned more than $23.33.

The median hourly wage for clerical library assistants was $11.27 in May 2012. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $8.21, and the top 10 percent earned more than $18.41.

In May 2012, the median hourly wages for library technicians and clerical library assistants in the top four industries in which these technicians and assistants worked were as follows:

Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state,
local, and private
$15.47
Elementary and secondary schools; state, local, and private12.96
Local government, excluding education and hospitals12.08
Information11.11

More than half of clerical library assistants worked part time in 2012.

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 About this section

Library Technicians and Assistants

Percent change in employment, projected 2012-22

Library assistants, clerical

15%

Library technicians and assistants

12%

Total, all occupations

11%

Library technicians

8%

 

Employment of library technicians is projected to grow 8 percent from 2012 to 2022, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Employment of clerical library assistants is projected to grow 15 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations.

Online databases and other electronic tools have simplified some tasks, allowing them to be performed by technicians and assistants rather than librarians. Library technicians and assistants earn less than librarians. As more libraries face budget constraints, technicians and assistants will be used increasingly as a lower cost method of providing library services.

Employment projections data for library technicians and assistants, 2012-22
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2012 Projected Employment, 2022 Change, 2012-22 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

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

Library technicians and assistants

216,600 241,800 12 25,200

Library technicians

25-4031 106,200 115,200 8 9,000 [XLS]

Library assistants, clerical

43-4121 110,400 126,600 15 16,300 [XLS]

Similar Occupations About this section

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 Help 2012 MEDIAN PAY Help
Librarians

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, school, and medical libraries.

Master’s degree $55,370
Medical records and health information technicians

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 its quality, accuracy, accessibility, and security in both paper 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.

Postsecondary non-degree award $34,160
Receptionists

Receptionists

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

High school diploma or equivalent $25,990
Teacher assistants

Teacher Assistants

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

Some college, no degree $23,640

Contacts for More Information About this section

For more information about library technicians and assistants careers, visit

American Library Association

For more information about careers in libraries, visit

Library Careers

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 Technicians

Library Assistants, Clerical

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Library Technicians and Assistants,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/library-technicians-and-assistants.htm (visited August 21, 2014).

Publish Date: Wednesday, January 8, 2014