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Summary

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Video transcript available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6SVLIBmfkc.
Quick Facts: Library Technicians and Assistants
2019 Median Pay $30,560 per year
$14.69 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

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 $13.22 in May 2019.

The median hourly wage for library technicians was $16.78 in May 2019.

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 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 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 About this section

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
Other information services 10

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 About this section

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 About this section

Library Technicians and Assistants

Median hourly wages, May 2019

Total, all occupations

$19.14

Library technicians

$16.78

Library technicians and assistants

$14.69

Library assistants, clerical

$13.22

 

The median hourly wage for library assistants, clerical was $13.22 in May 2019. 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 $9.15, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $21.62.

The median hourly wage for library technicians was $16.78 in May 2019. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $10.58, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $27.00.

In May 2019, 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 $15.48
Elementary and secondary schools; local 14.01
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 12.73
Other information services 12.16

In May 2019, 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 $19.81
Elementary and secondary schools; state, local, and private 17.14
Other information services 17.05
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 15.44

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 About this section

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
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2019 Projected Employment, 2029 Change, 2019-29 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

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

Library technicians and assistants

184,600 177,500 -4 -7,100

Library technicians

25-4031 94,100 90,500 -4 -3,600 Get data

Library assistants, clerical

43-4121 90,500 87,000 -4 -3,500 Get data

State & Area Data About this section

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.

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 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 on Entry-Level Education 2019 MEDIAN PAY Help on Median Pay
Librarians

Librarians

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

Bachelor's degree $59,500
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 $42,630
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 $30,050
Teacher assistants

Teacher Assistants

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

Some college, no degree $27,920
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 December 04, 2020).

Last Modified Date: Tuesday, September 1, 2020

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2019 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2019, the median annual wage for all workers was $39,810.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2019

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2019, which is the base year of the 2019-29 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2019-29

The projected percent change in employment from 2019 to 2029. The average growth rate for all occupations is 4 percent.

Employment Change, 2019-29

The projected numeric change in employment from 2019 to 2029.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2019-29

The projected numeric change in employment from 2019 to 2029.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2019 to 2029.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2019 to 2029.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2019 to 2029.

2019 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2019, the median annual wage for all workers was $39,810.