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A library assistant (or library technician) helps librarians acquire, prepare, and organize materials. They also do other tasks that are needed to run a library. They usually work at desks or computer terminals inside libraries, and work in the library stacks while cataloguing or shelving books.
Library assistants typically do the following:
Library assistants are usually supervised by a librarian. Library technicians may have more responsibilities than library assistants, such as administering library programs and overseeing lower-level staff.
The table below shows the various areas in which library assistants worked in 2010:
Except for those who work in bookmobiles, library assistants generally work indoors. They spend much of their time at desks or computer terminals. Most also spend time in the library stacks while cataloguing or re-shelving books, a task that may require bending or stretching to reach the shelves.
Library assistants in school libraries work during regular school hours. Those in public or college libraries work weekends, evenings, and some holidays. In corporate libraries, they work normal business hours but may be asked to work overtime. The schedule of library assistants who work in bookmobiles is dependent on the locations they serve.
Most libraries prefer to hire library assistants who have a postsecondary certificate or an associate’s degree. However, some smaller libraries might hire prospective assistants with only a high school diploma.
Courses required for an associate’s degree or a certificate in library technology include acquisitions, cataloguing, circulation, and automated library systems. Usually, library technicians who work in public schools must meet the same requirements as teacher assistants.
Library assistants can advance as they assume additional responsibilities in other areas of the library. Some eventually become supervisors and oversee daily library operations.