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How to become a Library Assistant

library assistant careers

What does a Library Assistant do?

Library assistants, sometimes referred to as information assistants or paraprofessionals, work closely with library/information managers in the day-to-day running of a library or information service. Duties include routine administrative work, such as filing or replacing returned items, dealing with correspondence, ordering books, journals and other materials, as well as liaising with suppliers, cataloguing new materials and maintaining databases and records.

They handle a range of materials including books, journals, newspapers, leaflets, pamphlets and maps as well as video, film, DVDs, photographs, microfiche, CDs and cassettes. If any materials are damaged, the library assistant would arrange repairs. There is increasing involvement with online and CD-ROM facilities, including the internet and computer databases.

A major part of the role is to assist service users to locate information and resources, often requesting items held in other libraries; there is considerable contact with people in other departments, as well as the public. In a public library, assistants may help with community events such as story readings.

What's the working environment like working as a Library Assistant?

Most library assistants work shifts including weekends or evenings, especially in a public or academic library, although some assistants work office hours.

The work is usually indoors but there may be opportunities to go out in a mobile library. The work can be quite physical with a lot of standing and lifting involved.

What does it take to become a Library Assistant?

To be a library assistant you should:

  • be tactful and courteous, and enjoy dealing with people of all ages and backgrounds
  • be methodical and well-organised, with a logical approach
  • be well-motivated and have initiative
  • have good computer skills
  • have specific skills such as knowledge of a foreign language or scientific speciality, where appropriate.

Library Assistant Career Opportunities

Employers include local authority public library services, central government departments, national libraries, universities and other educational establishments. See Employers' Organisation for Local Government for links to useful job search sites. Other posts exist in public service industries and corporations; manufacturing and commercial companies; research associations; professional bodies and media companies.

Some graduates apply for paraprofessional posts to gain experience or to get a foot on the career ladder. Library assistant roles can be route into postgraduate study (see Librarian profile). In a large library, opportunities to progress to more senior grades are available.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Library Assistant that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Lifelong Learning UK (LLUK)
5th Floor
St Andrew’s House
18-20 St Andrew Street
Helpline: 020 7936 5798

Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP)
7 Ridgmount Street
Tel: 020 7255 0500

Employers' Organisation for Local Government
Layden House
76-86 Turnmill Street
Tel: 020 7296 6600

Courses to help you become a Library Assistant