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
2014 Median Pay $27,420 per year
$13.18 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, 2014 210,700
Job Outlook, 2014-24 5% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2014-24 11,200

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. Library assistants typically need a high school degree and usually learn through short-term on-the-job training.

Pay

The median hourly wage for library technicians and assistants was $13.18 in May 2014.

Job Outlook

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. Libraries will hire these workers to take over some of the duties of librarians, whose hourly wages are usually higher.

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 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 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

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

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.

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

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. Library assistants typically need a high school degree and usually learn through short-term on-the-job (OTJ) 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. 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.

Training

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

Important Qualities

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

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

Library Technicians and Assistants

Median hourly wages, May 2014

Librarians, curators, and archivists

$21.84

Total, all occupations

$17.09

Library technicians

$15.23

Library technicians and assistants

$13.18

Library assistants, clerical

$11.50

 

The median hourly wage for library technicians was $15.23 in May 2014. 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 $9.18, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $24.13.

The median hourly wage for library assistants, clerical was $11.50 in May 2014. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $8.35, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $18.47.

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

Library Technicians and Assistants

Percent change in employment, projected 2014-24

Total, all occupations

7%

Library assistants, clerical

5%

Library technicians and assistants

5%

Library technicians

5%

Librarians, curators, and archivists

4%

 

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.

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 SOC Code Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

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

Library technicians and assistants

210,700 221,900 5 11,200

Library technicians

25-4031 101,800 107,100 5 5,300 [XLSX]

Library assistants, clerical

43-4121 108,800 114,700 5 5,900 [XLSX]

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) 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 OES 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.

Career InfoNet

America’s Career InfoNet 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 2014 MEDIAN PAY
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 $56,170
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 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.

Postsecondary nondegree award $35,900
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 $26,760
Teacher assistants

Teacher Assistants

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

Some college, no degree $24,430

Contacts for More Information

For more information about library technicians and assistants careers, visit

American Library Association

For more information about careers in libraries, visit

LibraryCareers.org 

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 Assistants, Clerical

Library Technicians

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Library Technicians and Assistants,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/library-technicians-and-assistants.htm (visited February 12, 2016).

Publish Date: Thursday, December 17, 2015