Job Description for a Library Assistant

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Job Description for a Library Assistant
Library assistants perform a wide range of duties. (library books image by Daughterson from

Library assistants compile records, sort and shelve books and issue and receive library materials, according to These library materials might include slides and films in addition to books. Library assistants might be given other titles such as library branch clerk, bookmobile clerk or department library clerk. These professionals must meet various skills requirements to succeed in this field.

Primary Duties

Library assistants sort books, periodicals and other items based on their classification code and return these items to shelves, files or other storage areas. They also look for publications for patrons, direct them to standard references and issue identification cards to new borrowers. In addition, library assistants answer inquiries from patrons via telephone and in person and refer borrowers requiring professional assistance to the librarian. They might even help patrons with computer searches at the library. Some help patrons with microfiche and microfilm readers and maintain or issue audiovisual equipment such as videocassette players or projectors. These individuals additionally might handle interlibrary loan requests and retrieve information from computer databases, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. When issuing books to patrons, they record due dates and record the transactions in the library database as well.

Other Responsibilities

Library assistants inspect returned books for damage and scan them to record their return. They receive overdue fines and verify due dates. Electronic circulation systems automatically generate overdue notices, and they review these notices for accuracy before sending them out. Library assistants might repair books using mending tape or paste or place plastic covers on new books. In addition, they might prepare volumes for binding. Library assistants also might help plan events such as used-book sales or design informational posters for patrons. They additionally might operate bookmobiles--trucks stocked with books that deliver library materials to places such as schools, nursing homes and apartment complexes.

Work Environment

Library assistants can find employment in various areas such as special libraries maintained by government agencies, law firms, advertising agencies or corporations. These assistants also can work for research laboratories, medical centres, museums, professional societies, schools, colleges and public libraries. A majority of library assistants work part time. Those who prepare library materials might sit at desks or computer terminals for long periods and can develop headaches or eyestrain. While those who work in schools usually work regular school hours, those who work at universities or public libraries might have to work evenings, weekends and some holidays.


Library assistants usually must have a high school diploma or GED, but libraries also might hire high school students for these positions. No formal postsecondary training is expected. While some employers hire library assistants with experience in other clerical jobs, others train inexperienced workers on the job. Because nearly all libraries are computerised, library assistants must be familiar with computers, online library systems and circulation systems.


Employment of library technicians and assistants is projected to climb about 10 per cent from 2008 to 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Opportunities are strong for library assistants because many workers leave these jobs for higher pay or full-time work and must be replaced. Library assistants earned median hourly wages of £7.0 in May 2008, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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