Bureau of Labor Statistics

Library Technicians and Assistants

library technicians and assistants image
Library technicians and assistants help patrons find library resources.
Quick Facts: Library Technicians and Assistants
2020 Median Pay $31,840 per year
$15.31 per hour
Typical 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, 2019 184,600
Job Outlook, 2019-29 -4% (Decline)
Employment Change, 2019-29 -7,100

Summary

What Library Technicians and Assistants Do

Library technicians and assistants help librarians with all aspects of running a library.

Work Environment

Library technicians and assistants work in local public libraries, corporate and specialty libraries, and school and university libraries.

How to Become a Library Technician or Assistant

Library technicians typically need a postsecondary certificate. Library assistants typically need a high school diploma or its equivalent, combined with short-term on-the-job training.

Pay

The median hourly wage for library assistants, clerical was $13.81 in May 2020.

The median hourly wage for library technicians was $17.79 in May 2020.

Job Outlook

Overall employment of library technicians and assistants is projected to decline 4 percent from 2019 to 2029. Although communities have tried to rebrand libraries for a variety of services and activities, library use has decreased.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for library technicians and assistants.

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

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 do 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. Both technicians and assistants help patrons find information and organize library materials. However, library technicians typically have more responsibilities than library assistants.

Library technicians and assistants in small libraries have a broad range of duties. In large libraries, they tend to specialize in a particular area, such as user services or technical services. Those 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 or book clubs for teens or adults.

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 settings other than school or public libraries, including 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

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

Library assistants, clerical held about 90,500 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of library assistants, clerical were as follows:

Local government, excluding education and hospitals 61%
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private 14
Elementary and secondary schools; local 11
Other information services 9

Library technicians held about 94,100 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of library technicians were as follows:

Local government, excluding education and hospitals 52%
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private 17
Elementary and secondary schools; state, local, and private 14
Junior colleges; state, local, and private 3

Library technicians and assistants generally work indoors. They spend much of their time at public service desks or at computer terminals. They may 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 school hours. Those in public or college libraries may work weekends, evenings, and some holidays. In special libraries, technicians and assistants typically work during normal business hours but may have to work evenings and weekends.

How to Become a Library Technician or Assistant

Library technicians and assistants
Library technicians and assistants provide customer service to library patrons.

Library technicians typically need a postsecondary certificate. Library assistants typically need a high school diploma or its equivalent, combined with short-term on-the-job training.

Education                                                                                               

Library technicians typically need a postsecondary certificate in library technology, which may include coursework in acquisitions, cataloguing, circulation, reference, and automated library systems. The American Library Association has information about certificate programs available by state.

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

Training

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

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Library technicians and assistants must be able to answer patrons’ questions clearly and explain use of 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.

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

Listening skills. Library technicians and assistants need to listen to patrons to help them with research topics or with finding materials.

Advancement

Library technicians and assistants may advance to 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

Library Technicians and Assistants

Median hourly wages, May 2020

Total, all occupations

$20.17

Library technicians

$17.79

Library technicians and assistants

$15.31

Library assistants, clerical

$13.81

 

The median hourly wage for library assistants, clerical was $13.81 in May 2020. 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 $9.45, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $22.08.

The median hourly wage for library technicians was $17.79 in May 2020. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $11.11, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $29.64.

In May 2020, 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 $15.99
Elementary and secondary schools; local 14.52
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 13.39
Other information services 13.36

In May 2020, 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 $19.75
Junior colleges; state, local, and private 18.60
Elementary and secondary schools; state, local, and private 17.29
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 16.02

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 may work weekends, evenings, and some holidays. In corporate libraries, library technicians and assistants work normal business hours but may have to work evenings and weekends.

Job Outlook

Library Technicians and Assistants

Percent change in employment, projected 2019-29

Total, all occupations

4%

Library assistants, clerical

-4%

Library technicians and assistants

-4%

Library technicians

-4%

 

Overall employment of library technicians and assistants is projected to decline 4 percent from 2019 to 2029.

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

Despite projected employment declines, about 24,900 openings for library technicians and assistants are projected each year, on average, over the decade.

All of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Candidates who have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree may have the best prospects.

Employment projections data for library technicians and assistants, 2019-29

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

Occupational Title

Library technicians and assistants

SOC Code
Employment, 2019184,600
Projected Employment, 2029177,500
Percent Change, 2019-29-4
Numeric Change, 2019-29-7,100
Employment by Industry
Occupational Title

Library technicians

SOC Code25-4031
Employment, 201994,100
Projected Employment, 202990,500
Percent Change, 2019-29-4
Numeric Change, 2019-29-3,600
Employment by IndustryGet data
Occupational Title

Library assistants, clerical

SOC Code43-4121
Employment, 201990,500
Projected Employment, 202987,000
Percent Change, 2019-29-4
Numeric Change, 2019-29-3,500
Employment by IndustryGet data

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OEWS data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

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 2020 MEDIAN PAY
Librarians

Librarians and Library Media Specialists

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

Bachelor's degree $60,820
Medical records and health information technicians

Medical Records and Health Information Technicians

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

Postsecondary nondegree award $44,090
Receptionists

Receptionists

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

High school diploma or equivalent $31,110
Teacher assistants

Teacher Assistants

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

Some college, no degree $28,900

Contacts for More Info

Last Modified Date: Friday, April 9, 2021

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Library Technicians and Assistants,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/library-technicians-and-assistants.htm (visited June 10, 2021).

Telephone: 1-202-691-5700 www.bls.gov/ooh Contact OOH

View this page on regular www.bls.gov

Permanently disable mobile site