Library Assistant Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Library Assistants, or Library Clerks, are responsible for assisting with the administration and organization of a library. Their duties include helping library visitors find the right reference materials, processing interlibrary loans and signing up visitors for their own library card.

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Library Assistant Duties and Responsibilities

A Library Assistant has various duties and responsibilities to take care of in their job. These duties are important in order to keep the library running smoothly as they assist the Main Librarian.

The following are the common duties and responsibilities of a Library Assistant:

  • Loan library materials such as books and DVDs to patrons and collect the returned materials.
  • Catalog and maintain the library materials.
  • Handle loans between libraries.
  • Organize and reshelve returned items such as periodicals, books and DVDs.
  • Handle the registration of new library cardholders and issue library cards.
  • Teach people how to use the library resources.
  • Answer any questions from patrons.
  • Perform routine tasks such as answering phone calls and organizing files.
  • Use and maintain computer library database to help locate library materials.
  • Help plan and participate in special library events such as a children’s movie nights, used book sales or other special programs.

What Does a Library Assistant Do?

Library Assistants generally work at public libraries and schools to facilitate a library’s programming and provide clerical support to the Librarians on staff. They keep the book stacks organized by shelving books according to the Dewey Decimal System, making note of missing and damaged books and setting aside reserved books for library patrons. Library assistants staff the circulation desk to check out books and other resources to visitors and process fine payments. They may also assist with setting up the library for events like story time for kids or teen book club.

Library Assistant Skills and Qualifications

In order to do a good job as a Library Assistant, they need certain skills and qualifications. These skills are what employers should look for when interviewing candidates in order to improve the overall experience of heading to the library for a patron.

The following are important skills for a Library Assistant to have:

  • Library Assistants will come in contact with the public on a daily basis, helping them find books and check them out. Interpersonal skills are very important.
  • Library Assistants also use library software daily to help people do research or look for material, as well as maintain the library’s database.
  • Library Assistants need to listen to the patrons who need their help, answer their questions clearly and teach them how to use the resources. They also have to follow instructions from librarians.
  • Library Assistants have to be detail-oriented in order to make sure information and material is filed correctly. Processing library materials requires attention to detail.

Library Assistant Salary Expectations

The average salary for a Library Assistant is $13.17 per hour. Including a salary or salary range on a Library Assistant posting can attract more suitable applicants.

Library Assistant Education and Training Requirements

Typically, a library assistant has a high school degree with on-the-job training. Most libraries prefer library assistants with a post-secondary certificate which provides courses in cataloging, reference and automated library systems. Library assistants usually receive on-the-job training to learn the basics of libraries.

Public library assistants work in community libraries, while academic assistants are in universities or colleges helping students and professors. There are also school library assistants for elementary to high school, and special library assistants who work in museums, government, and medical centers to provide information that is of particular interest to the organization.

Library Assistant Experience Requirements

Library Assistants can get on-the-job training from a librarian to understand the work they will be doing. It is a plus to already have previous experience as an assistant in an office, business or non-profit as there will be responsibilities that correlate with each other. In order to become a librarian, a Library Assistant is required to obtain a master’s degree in library science.

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Frequently asked questions about Library Assistants

 

What is the difference between Library Assistants and Librarians?

Librarians are responsible for managing the library’s collection and helping people find specific resources, while Library Assistants provide clerical support for Library staff and customer service to patrons. Library Assistants interact with visitors and may refer them to Librarians if they have a complex research or information science question. Librarians select and curate the library’s book collection and technical resources and give Library Assistants instructions on how to keep them organized appropriately. Librarians are also in charge of designing the literacy, educational or entertainment programs that Library Assistants help staff.

 

What are the qualities of a good Library Assistant?

Good Library Assistants are friendly to patrons and knowledgeable about how libraries are organized. They are passionate about serving their community and making information accessible to others. The best Library Assistants have career aspirations to eventually become a Librarian and grow their knowledge. Successful Library Assistants like to read and recommend books to others. They are highly organized and pay attention to small details when shelving books, ensuring that they place each item in its proper place so the next patron can easily find what they are looking for.

 

What are the daily duties of a Library Assistant?

Library Assistants begin their day by clearing returned books from the book drop and scanning them back into the system. They then place the returned books on carts and place them back on the appropriate place on the shelf. Before the library opens, they wipe down shared surfaces like computer keyboards or work desks. Once the library opens, they greet patrons and ask them if they can help them locate any books or resources. They monitor visitor behavior, make sure everyone is treating the books and computers with care, answer phones and check out books.

 

What are the different types of Library Assistant?

Just like Librarians, Library Assistants can specialize in the type of support they provide. Some of the areas they can choose to work in are pubic service, reference, research, technical services, electronic resources and community outreach. Some Library Assistants, such as Medical Library Assistants specialize in a particular subject area and may work at a research library at a graduate school or think tank.

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