What Does A Library Assistant Do?

When it comes to handling the day-to-day tasks of the library, librarians can’t do everything that needs to be done all by themselves. They get the help they need from their dependable library assistants. From helping patrons find the materials they need to putting back returned materials to their proper shelves to repairing torn or damaged magazines, library assistants play a vital role in the smooth operations of the library.

Library assistants are typically assigned in the circulation or public service desks where they get to assist patrons. Here, they orient new users about the library and its registration and borrowing policies and issue them library cards so they have access to all its resources. They also check out books borrowed by a library user, ensuring that that the dates of borrowing and return are properly stamped on the books and the borrower’s card. They also receive books being returned and record them accordingly. Depending on the policies of the library, they may also collect fines for overdue books.

Helping patrons find the resources they need is part and parcel of the job of library assistants. They may locate a particular material that the user wants or they may teach them how to use the card catalog or the computer database so they can find the resources they need on their own. College students, for example, may need the help of library assistants in locating books, magazines and newspaper clippings about a paper or research that they are doing. If there are questions, the library assistant provides clear answers or refers the matter to the librarian if he or she is unable to do so.

Library assistants are also asked to return books and resources in their proper areas. They will re-shelve books based on the classification system followed by the library. The Dewey Decimal Classification, Library of Congress Classification and Colon Classification are the most common ones employed in the United States. This task can be a bit physically challenging as the assistant must stretch or bend to be able return the materials to their proper places.

Library assistants may also be tasked with the cataloguing and labeling of books, magazines, journals and other resources that may have just been delivered. From the opening of the boxes to labeling to encoding the entry in the computer to putting the materials in their appropriate place in the library—all these are done with the help of assistants. When it comes to keeping the materials in the library in the best of shape, library assistants also make the necessary repairs to books that have been torn or have their pages separated due to age or mishandling. This way, they are able to make the resources available to patrons for a longer time period.

In public libraries, librarians often organize programs that promote reading and library use among children and other members of the community. Library assistants undertake tasks that are assigned to them by the librarians to facilitate the success of the event. For example, if the program is a storytelling activity, they will help arrange a portion of the library so that it becomes comfortable for the children attending the event.

Career Spotlight: Library Assistant

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