If you want to work in library but don’t want to have to go through great lengths to get your master’s degree in library science which is a requirement towards a career as a librarian then you can consider becoming a library assistant. As described in your job title, your main responsibility is to assist the librarian in all tasks related to the running of the daily operations of the library. In a typical day, your work could include sorting and recording the resources in the library and placing them in the proper shelves based on their identification numbers and titles. While books and magazines comprise most of the materials that you will be classifying, they are not the only ones. You will also see that pictures, electronic media, microfilm and slides are placed where they should be and that computers for Internet research are online, functional and ready for use.
As a library assistant, you will also be dealing with library patrons. You will help them find the materials they are looking for. You will also assist new users in the library, give them library cards and register them so they can borrow books and materials. You will also answer any questions they may have about the library system.
Having excellent communication skills is important to succeed as a library assistant. Since you will be talking with patrons and teaching them how to find and use the resources in the library, the ability to speak well and listen carefully are going to be integral in helping you provide library users with the best service. You also need to have good interpersonal skills since you will be teaching patrons and answering their questions. Paying attention to detail is also important since you need to organize and catalog all library resources correctly to prevent confusion among those who are looking for resources.
Why Become A Library Assistant
One reason to become a library assistant is having a genuine love for books, magazines and all other kinds of reading materials. Library assistants have ready access to all these important sources of information which makes it a haven for those who have a passion for reading. Another reason to choose this career path is that it requires minimal educational preparation for entry. Although the pay is not very lucrative, being a library assistant serves as a very good training ground for those who eventually want to become librarians someday. This is because many library assistant positions are part-time work, allowing those who are pursuing their education the opportunity to earn and study at the same time.
Library Assistant Work Environment
Library assistants typically work for public libraries and educational libraries. The latter covers both libraries in colleges and universities as well as that of elementary and high schools. The work is done indoors and arranging books in their proper places may involve a lot of stretching and bending. Assistants employed by elementary and high schools usually follow regular school hours but those in public and college libraries may need to work weekends and holidays. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that over half of clerical library assistants are part-time workers.
The Occupational Employment and Wages report of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that library assistants have a mean annual wage of $25,850. The lowest 10 percent earned $17,200 annually while the top 10 percent had a mean annual wage of $38,370.
Library Assistant Career Outlook
Government data has projected a very positive job outlook for library assistants. For the ten-year period covering 2012 to 2022, the employment rate for this occupation is set at 15 percent which is faster than the national average for all job types. The demand will come from the introduction of electronic tools and online databases which have allowed library technicians and assistants to undertake tasks that used to be done only by librarians. Since many assistants are paid lower than librarians, libraries that are operating under tight financial limitations will turn to them to help provide services to patrons.
Library Assistant Degree
Although there are no strict formal education requirements to become a library assistant, many employers prefer those who hold at least a high school diploma or its equivalent. Training is usually provided on the job to equip the newly-hired assistant information about the library so he or she can do the tasks independently. Library assistants who wish to eventually become librarians need to get a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in library science.