What is a Library Assistant?

When many people think of libraries, they think of librarians. However, there are often just as many or more people who help a library run properly who are not trained librarians.

“Library Assistant” is a bit of a catch-all term for a variety of jobs within the library that do not require a Masters degree in librarianship. Many of these positions still work with the public, organize materials, and sometimes even specialize in an area such as teaching tech skills, managing websites, leading events, and more.

Read on to learn more about what these positions can look like!

Library Assistant Salary

In 2018, the median librarian assistant salary in the United States was around $35,152, with a range from about $15,080 up to $62,320. Assuming 40 hours of work and two weeks of vacation per year, a salary of $35,152 equates to a monthly pay of $2,704, weekly pay of $676, and an hourly wage of $16.90, all before taxes.

Here are examples of librarian salaries by state:

California: $18.54/hr
Texas: $12.13/hr
New Jersey: $13.09/hr

Types of Library Assistants

There are librarian assistant positions for every area of librarianship (and, trust me, there are a lot!) You might work in archives, in the tech department, as a circulation clerk, as programs coordinator, in reference, in youth services, in cataloging, or in the ordering department, just to name a few.

Alternate Job Titles for Library Assistant

  • Library Technician
  • Library Clerk
  • Library Specialist
  • Assistant Librarian
  • Library Associate

Library Assistant

What does a librarian do?

  • selecting, purchasing, and cataloging library resources
  • answering questions and queries from visitors
  • ensuring that library services meet the needs of particular groups of users (children, young adults, adults, etc.)
  • assisting readers to use computer equipment and conduct literature searches
  • promoting the library’s resources to users
  • management of staff, including recruitment, training and/or supervision duties
  • managing budgets and resources

Library Assistant Job Requirements

Again, the specifics of each library assistant job vary greatly depending on the institution, what the job entails, and on the library’s budget. Some positions are entry-level, others require some type of experience in the field (even volunteer work), and some require a bachelor’s degree. It is rare for a library assistant position to require a Masters degree.

As with any industry, having more experience in an area will increase your chances of getting a specific job – for example, if you know you want to work in provide community programming, try to get as much experience as you can (paid or unpaid) in program coordination. However, the useful thing about library assistant positions is that they are often more accessible as entry-level jobs.

Library Assistant Skills

Libraries are looking for skilled, well rounded people. Specifically, some skills that these employers ask for include:

  • organizational skills
  • interpersonal skills
  • teamwork & collaboration
  • IT skills, like searching databases or using the internet
  • management of people and resources
  • presentation and verbal communication skills
  • the ability to write clearly and succinctly
  • subject specific expertise

Pros and Cons of Being a Library Assistant

If you’re thinking that working in libraries sounds pretty great, here are some pros and cons of being a library assistant to help you decide if it’s the right choice for you:

Pros

  • You are surrounded by books!
  • The quietness of your work environment is legendary.
  • ABL. Always. Be. Learning.

Cons

  • The industry is facing major challenges, like decreasing visitors.
  • Libraries can have limited budgets and high expectations.
  • Without a library degree, your prospects for advancement might be limited.

Final Thoughts On Becoming a Library Assistant

Whatever your motivation for thinking about a career in the library, working as a library assistant will bring you great satisfaction in your work and the opportunity to make a positive difference in your community. We recommend you consider your options and then pursue the career of your dreams; you have the opportunities to enrich lives.