Library Assistants and Technicians

Library Assistants and Technicians generally perform clerical duties, and are often mistaken for librarians as they are the first face people see, since most libraries' checkout desks are near the entrance. Library assistants often check materials out and in, collect fines and fees, answer general phone questions, issue library cards, process new library materials, and assist with items on reserve.

ALA has a list of support staff positions in libraries intended to give you an idea about types of jobs you can have as support staff within libraries.

Earnings

Library assistant jobs may be part- or full-time and can range from $9 to $22 per hour; the middle 50 percent earned between $13.44 and $19.92 in 2019. The median annual salary in 2019 was  $27,490 The highest paying Library Assistant jobs are in legal services, general medical and surgical hospitals, followed by government and colleges, universities, and professional schools.
Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages: Library Assistants, May 2019

The wage range for Library Technicians is slightly higher, $10.58 to $27.00 per hour; the middle 50 percent earned between $16.72 and $27.43 in 2019.  The median annual salary was $34,900. The highest paying Library Technician jobs are in the following industries: Management of Companies and Enterprises, Social Advocacy Organizations, followed by Computer Systems Design and Related Services, Federal Government, and legal services.
Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages: Library Technicians, May 2019

Outlook

Overall employment of library technicians and assistants is projected to decline 4 percent from 2019 to 2029. Budget constraints may limit the number of library technicians and assistants in local government and education services. The economic impact resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic may make the financial picture for libraries seem bleak for the near future. Before the pandemic, about 24,900 openings for library technicians and assistants were projected each year, on average, over the decade. These openings were expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire. It is not yet clear how the library profession in general will be affected by the pandemic.

Occupational Outlook Handbook for Library Technicians & Library Assistants at the Bureau of Labor Statistics has detailed information about educational requirements, work environment and job outlook for library support staff.

Education

Educational requirements vary greatly by state and type of library. Some positions require a high school diploma; others require an associate degree or library technician certificate.

A partial list of state certification programs is available at the ALA-Allied Professional Association (ALA-APA) website.

ALA-APA has developed a national Library Support Staff Certification Program.in partnership with the Western Council of State Libraries.

A list of Library Technician programs in the U.S. compiled by the Association for College and Research Libraries - Community and Junior College Libraries Section (ACRL/CJCLS) Committee on Library Staff Education.

Skills

  • Ability to communicate clearly with patrons, co-workers and supervisors
  • Ability to follow library policies and procedures, especially as relate to issuing library cards, checking out items, collecting fines and fees, and processing new materials
  • Ability to count change and handle money
  • Ability to work with computer applications; most library assistants will use the library's computer system to manage library card holder records, or add new items to the online catalog
  • Ability to work with and troubleshoot office machines, such as copiers

Experience

  • Generally previous experience is not required, although preference may be given to people who are already somewhat familiar with a library environment, such as a page

Career path

  • Library assistants who excel in their area of work may make excellent candidates for a managerial position, such as a circulation manager or head of circulation. In public libraries, it is not unusual for a similar career path in the cataloging or "technical services" area.
  • Library assistants who complete a four-year undergraduate degree in any field are excellent candidates to consider becoming a librarian.

Library Technicians

Courtesy of CollegeGradCareers

Clerical Library Assistant Career Overview

Courtesy of CityTownInfo

Colleague Connection

LSSIRT

Library Support Staff Interests Round Table (LSSIRT), is a special interest group within the American Library Association, devoted to the interests of library support staff.