A library assistant is also known by the name as a library technician and they perform the various task needed to run a library. They help librarians receive, prepare, and organize materials. They perform their task at desk or computer terminals inside libraries and work while cataloging and shelving books. They help students find books and reference material they are searching for and they are usually employed in schools, libraries, companies, and public libraries. Few other duties performed by them include check-in and out material ate the circulation desk, receive payment for fines, shelve the books when students return them, and help to process new books. In schools, the library assistant works during school hours and those in public libraries, work during weekends, evenings, and holidays. Incorporate libraries, they work normal business hours, and sometimes they may be asked to work overtime. The working schedule of the professional usually depends on the location they serve.
What does a library assistant do?
A library assistant needs to perform various tasks:
- Providing library material to students and collecting return material
- Sorting and re-shelving return books
- Organizing and maintaining library books
- Charging and renewing materials
- Assisting patrons in finding materials
- Answering calls and taking messages
- Greeting and directing customers
- Maintaining records
- Registering new students and issuing library cards
- Answering students queries and helping them find library resources
- Maintaining the computer database used to locate library books
- Planning special programs such as used book sale and outreach programs
The following are the various types of library assistants
Academic library assistants – They aid students, faculties, and staff in colleges and universities accessing information related to various subjects or research projects. They instruct students accessing and using library resources. They work at the service desk for reserving material and special collections.
Public library assistants – they usually work in community libraries serving the public in a specific area. They arrange books on shelves, help patrons find books, newspapers, and magazines which are read for pleasure. They teach patrons to perform research and how to access library resources. Some assistants in public libraries help to execute programs for users like storytime for a kid’s book club for teens and to arrange recreational activities.
School library assistants – The assistant helps students in finding study materials and books related to coursework and help teachers develop curriculum materials.
Special library assistants – They work in libraries in government agencies, museums, law firms, corporations, and medical centers. They assist users to search for resources and materials and provide information on various subjects of interest.
How to become a library assistant?
Gain information through research
Candidates need to learn about what library science is and what all potential career paths are available to assistants. There are some common options included for library assistants in schools, public, law, university, and digital centers. Gaining knowledge about them in advance will help to determine what degree or master’s degree is needed to pursue further to attain success in this field.
Most of the library technicians need to complete a post-secondary certification or an associate degree. However, some small libraries may hire an assistant with only a high school diploma. The curriculum requirement usually includes topics in automated service, acquisition, cataloging principles, and references. In some cases, the technicians who employ in a public school must meet the same requirement as teacher assistants. Almost all library assistant needs to hold a high school diploma or equivalent.
Research MLIS program
Candidates can gain a bachelor’s degree in education along with teaching credentials. An undergraduate degree in library science is available but not required, which can provide the foundation for building a career as a library assistant. You may also research for MLIS programs and make sure the program aligns with your career goal. There is some MLIS program that doesn’t have a special focus and they offer a degree with a specific area of concentration which can be a better choice for students who are planning to specialize in one of the offered concentrations.
Training and advancement
Library assistant usually receives short term training to learn more about performing the various task as an assistant and library resources. They can also perform duties in various other areas of the library. Some eventually become supervisors and oversee daily library tasks. The candidate can volunteer in a library part-time to gain experience as an assistant. It is good to gain experience in public-facing, customer service, or clerical capacity. Once hired, most of the employers provide comprehensive on-the-job training. To become a librarian the technician needs to earn a master’s degree in library science.
- Communication skill – the library assistant needs to listen and understand the patron’s needs, provide apt answers to the queries, and educate them on how to use library resources. They must be able to speak in a friendly and helpful manner. It requires speaking, making eye contact, and using proper tone.
- Detail-oriented – library assistant needs to pay close attention to ensuring the library material and information are well organized and according to the library’s organizational system. Cataloging and processing the material requires attention to detail.
- Interpersonal skills – the assistant must provide good customer service to library patrons and they must possess interpersonal skills to work with teachers, librarians, and researchers. They must be able to coordinate with others negotiating, instructing, and persuading. The skill facilitates interaction with patron, colleagues, and members of other departments.
- Technology skill – The assistant must know how to use computers, store documents, and help patrons research topics. They must have an understanding of how to use technology to maintain the library database of the collection.
- Reading comprehension – the library assistant must be able to understand work-related documents as well as the nature of the material in the library.
Alternate career options
Librarian – Although responsibilities may vary according to the position, they are usually responsible for assisting patrons with information retrieval and research for personal enjoyment.
Teaching assistant – They support the task of certified teachers by providing students with academic help and classroom supervision as needed.