Library Assistant Career Guide 2024

Table of Contents

Library Assistant Salary in United States for 2023

Average Annual Salary: $31,150 Hourly Rate: $14.98

Data sourced from the U.S. Department of Labor via the ONET Web API. Updated at December 8, 2023

Best College Majors for Library Assistants in 2023

Projected Job Employment for Library Assistant:

Estimated YearProjected YearEstimated EmploymentProjected Employment% ChangeProjected Annual Job Opening
2021203182,50079,500-4%13300

Library Assistant Career Path Overview

A career as a Library Assistant provides a rewarding opportunity for individuals with a passion for books, research, and community service. Library Assistants play a crucial role in ensuring the smooth operation of libraries by assisting librarians and patrons with various tasks. The career path of a Library Assistant is diverse and offers opportunities for advancement and specialization.

Job Description

As a Library Assistant, your primary responsibilities include assisting library patrons, organizing library resources, and performing clerical duties. These professionals often engage with the public, helping users find and utilize library resources such as books, digital media, and other educational materials. They also assist in maintaining library databases, processing new materials, and conducting inventory checks. In some settings, Library Assistants may also be tasked with planning and coordinating events or programs.

Education Requirements

The minimum education requirement for most Library Assistant positions is a high school diploma or equivalent. However, having an associate's or bachelor's degree can improve job prospects. Some roles may require specialized training or certification in library science or a related field. For instance, positions involving technical services or database management may prefer candidates with a background in information technology.

Career Path and Progression

The career path for a Library Assistant often begins with gaining experience in entry-level roles such as a clerk or page. With experience and further education, Library Assistants can progress to higher positions such as Senior Library Assistant or Library Technician. Pursuing a master's degree in library science can open up opportunities to become a Librarian or even a Library Director. Some Library Assistants also specialize in specific areas like children's services, reference services, or archival work, which can lead to specialized roles within the library system.

Skills Required

Library Assistants need strong interpersonal skills as they interact with a diverse range of library users. They should have excellent organizational skills to manage and categorize a wide array of materials. Basic computer skills are essential for using library databases and cataloging systems. Attention to detail is crucial for tasks like book repair and database upkeep. Additionally, problem-solving skills are important for assisting patrons with their queries and needs.

Salary Expectations

The salary for Library Assistants can vary depending on factors such as location, the size of the library, and the individual's level of experience and education. According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2020, the median annual wage for library assistants was $29,780. Higher salaries can be expected for those in senior roles or specialized positions.

Job Outlook

The job outlook for Library Assistants is relatively stable. While advancements in technology have changed the nature of some tasks, the need for these professionals remains. Libraries continue to serve as important community resources, and Library Assistants play a key role in their operation. Thus, there will always be a need for dedicated Library Assistants who can adapt to changing technologies and continue to provide valuable services to library patrons.

Library Assistant Career Path Education and Training

To embark on a successful career as a Library Assistant, individuals must meet certain education and training requirements. The foundation of this career path typically begins with a high school diploma or equivalent. However, further education and skills training can significantly enhance career prospects and advancement opportunities.

High School Diploma

Prospective Library Assistants usually start their educational journey with a high school diploma or its equivalent. High school courses in English, computer science, and literature can be particularly beneficial for this career path, as they provide foundational skills in areas such as reading comprehension, digital literacy, and literary analysis.

Postsecondary Education

While not always required, some employers prefer Library Assistants who have postsecondary education. This could be an associate's degree or bachelor's degree in any field but having one in library science, literature, education, or a related discipline could be advantageous. Postsecondary education can provide a deeper understanding of library operations, cataloging techniques, information management systems, and research methods.

Certification Programs

There are also certification programs available for those interested in becoming Library Assistants. These programs, often offered by community colleges or vocational schools, provide specialized training in library operations and services. Topics covered may include cataloging, circulation procedures, reference services, and information technology used in libraries.

On-the-Job Training

In addition to formal education, on-the-job training is a crucial aspect of the Library Assistant career path. This hands-on experience allows new hires to learn the specific systems and procedures of their particular library. On-the-job training often covers areas like customer service, shelving books, processing new materials, and using library software.

Continuing Education

As libraries continue to evolve with the digital age, it's important for Library Assistants to stay up-to-date with the latest technologies and practices. Continuing education opportunities, such as workshops, webinars, and courses, can help Library Assistants keep their skills sharp and relevant.

Skills Development

Library Assistants should continually work on developing skills that are essential for their role. These include customer service skills, organizational skills, technological proficiency, and attention to detail. Opportunities for skills development may come through formal education, on-the-job training, or self-guided learning. In summary, the educational and training path to becoming a Library Assistant is flexible and varied. Depending on the specific job requirements and individual's career goals, it can involve a combination of formal education, certification programs, on-the-job training, and continuous learning and skills development.

Library Assistant Career Path Progression

Embarking on a career as a Library Assistant can open up a world of opportunities for those who have a passion for literature, research, and community engagement. This career path not only involves working with books but also requires a solid understanding of technology, excellent customer service skills, and the ability to manage and organize vast amounts of information.

Starting Out: Entry-Level Positions

Most Library Assistants start their careers in entry-level positions. These roles typically require a high school diploma or equivalent, and some libraries may also prefer candidates with some experience in a library or customer service setting. Responsibilities at this level often include shelving books, assisting patrons, and performing routine clerical tasks.

Gaining Experience: Mid-Level Roles

With experience and further education, Library Assistants can progress to mid-level roles such as Senior Library Assistant or Library Technician. These positions require more specialized knowledge and typically involve more responsibility, including managing library databases, cataloguing materials, and assisting librarians with research and programming efforts.

Further Advancement: Supervisory Roles

For those who aspire to take on leadership roles in the library sector, becoming a Library Supervisor or Manager is the next step on the career ladder. In these roles, you'll oversee the day-to-day operations of the library, supervise staff, manage budgets, and play a key role in strategic planning.

Becoming a Librarian: The Ultimate Goal

For many, the ultimate goal in the library assistant career path is to become a Librarian. This usually requires a Master’s degree in Library Science (MLS) or a similar field. Librarians are responsible for the overall management of library resources and services. They conduct advanced research, plan programs for patrons, and make decisions about which books and materials to add to the library's collection.

Continuing Education: Lifelong Learning

In the rapidly evolving field of library science, continuing education is crucial. This can involve attending workshops, webinars, and conferences, or pursuing further formal education. Many library assistants opt for a Master's degree in Library Science or Information Studies to enhance their career prospects and deepen their understanding of the field. The career path for a Library Assistant is filled with opportunities for growth, learning, and fulfilling work. Whether you’re interested in becoming a librarian or finding your niche in a specialized role, there’s a pathway that aligns with your professional goals and passion for libraries.

Library Assistant Career Path Specializations and Subfields

In the realm of library science, the role of a Library Assistant is both diverse and dynamic, offering a variety of specializations and subfields. These specialized paths allow individuals to focus on areas that align with their interests, skills, and career goals. Let's delve into these unique specializations and subfields.

Children's Library Assistant

One of the rewarding specializations is becoming a Children's Library Assistant. In this role, you engage with children through storytime sessions, craft activities, and by recommending age-appropriate books. Having a love for children's literature and a knack for engaging young minds are key characteristics for success in this area.

Technical Services Library Assistant

If you're more inclined towards the technological aspect of library services, consider specializing as a Technical Services Library Assistant. This role involves managing databases, cataloging new acquisitions, and maintaining the library's digital resources. Strong computer skills and attention to detail are essential for this subfield.

Reference Library Assistant

As a Reference Library Assistant, you would assist patrons in conducting research, finding specific information, or using library resources effectively. This specialization requires excellent communication skills and a thorough understanding of the library's resources.

Academic Library Assistant

Working in an academic setting like colleges or universities is another viable subfield. As an Academic Library Assistant, you would support students and faculty by maintaining academic resources, assisting with research, and organizing scholarly events.

Special Collections Library Assistant

For those interested in rare books, manuscripts, or archival materials, becoming a Special Collections Library Assistant could be a fascinating choice. This role often involves preservation work, cataloging special items, and assisting researchers in accessing these unique collections.

Medical Library Assistant

The healthcare industry also offers opportunities for Library Assistants. As a Medical Library Assistant, you would manage medical literature, assist healthcare professionals with research, and maintain up-to-date health information. These specializations and subfields allow Library Assistants to explore different aspects of library science, catering to various interests and skills. Whether you're passionate about children's literature, technology, research, academia, rare collections, or healthcare, there's a unique career path for every Library Assistant.

Library Assistant Career Path Job Market and Outlook

The job market for library assistants is evolving, influenced by the digital revolution and the changing nature of information retrieval. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a -3% decline in job opportunities for library assistants from 2019 to 2029. This is partly due to budget constraints in local government and educational institutions, which account for a significant proportion of library jobs. However, this doesn't paint the whole picture. There are still opportunities in this field, particularly for those who adapt to the changing landscape.

The Shift to Digital

In recent years, the role of library assistants has shifted significantly towards digital responsibilities. Library assistants are now expected to assist users with electronic resources, digital archives, e-books and online databases. This shift towards digital has created new opportunities for library assistants who are tech-savvy and comfortable working with digital platforms.

Specialized Libraries

Despite the overall decline, there are growth opportunities in specialized libraries. For example, law libraries, medical libraries, and corporate libraries often have unique needs that require specialized knowledge. Library assistants with a background or interest in these areas may find more job opportunities.

Part-Time Opportunities

A significant proportion of library assistant jobs are part-time, which can be an advantage for individuals seeking flexible work schedules. These positions can provide valuable experience for those considering a career in library science or information management.

Advancement Opportunities

With additional education and experience, library assistants can advance to higher positions. Earning a Master's degree in Library Science (MLS) can lead to roles such as librarian or library manager. Some library assistants may also move into administrative roles within their institutions.

Geographical Considerations

The job outlook for library assistants can vary by region. Areas with a higher concentration of universities, colleges, and public libraries may offer more opportunities. Similarly, regions with thriving industries may have more openings in corporate or specialized libraries. In conclusion, the job market for library assistants is changing, and those who adapt to these changes will be best positioned to seize emerging opportunities. This includes embracing digital technologies, considering work in specialized libraries, and exploring part-time or geographical opportunities.

Library Assistant Career Path Salary and Compensation

As a Library Assistant, understanding the salary and compensation that comes with the role can help you to better plan your career trajectory. The figures vary widely depending on factors such as location, experience, type of library (public, academic, school, etc.), and the specific responsibilities of the role. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of 2020, the median annual wage for library assistants, clerical was $28,920. On the lower end, library assistants could earn a salary of less than $20,810, while at the higher end, they could make over $42,620 annually.

Entry-Level Salaries

When starting out as a Library Assistant, salaries tend to be on the lower end of the scale. Entry-level positions often require minimal experience but provide opportunities for skill development and industry knowledge growth. According to PayScale, an entry-level Library Assistant with less than 1 year of experience can expect to earn an average total compensation (including tips, bonus, and overtime pay) of around $12.08 per hour.

Experienced Library Assistant Salaries

As you gain more experience in your role as a Library Assistant, your salary is likely to increase. For instance, a Library Assistant with 1-4 years of experience earns an average total compensation of approximately $12.74 per hour, while an experienced Library Assistant with 5-9 years of experience can expect to earn around $14.36 per hour on average.

Further Career Advancements and Salary Increases

Further advancements in your career path can lead to roles such as a Librarian or Library Director. These roles typically require additional education and come with higher salaries. For example, according to BLS data from 2020, the median annual wage for librarians was $60,820.

Additional Compensation

In addition to base salaries, Library Assistants may also receive additional forms of compensation such as health benefits, retirement plans, and paid time off. Some employers may also provide tuition assistance or continuing education opportunities, which can be particularly beneficial for those looking to advance in their library careers. Remember that salary and compensation can vary greatly depending on a variety of factors. Therefore, it's essential to research and negotiate your salary based on your skills, experience, and the specific requirements of the role you are applying for.

Library Assistant Career Path Tips for Success

In order to thrive and achieve success in a library assistant career, it is essential to understand the requisite skills, education, and progression steps involved. This section aims to provide actionable tips that can help guide you towards a successful career path as a library assistant.

Acquiring the Necessary Education and Training

While entry-level library assistant roles may only require a high school diploma or equivalent, higher-level positions often require an associate or bachelor’s degree in library science or a related field. Courses in computer science, literature, management, and research methods can also be beneficial. Some libraries may also prefer candidates who have completed specialized library technician programs. Furthermore, hands-on training is crucial in this field. Many library assistants gain practical experience through internships or part-time jobs in libraries. This provides a real-world understanding of library operations and services, which is invaluable for career progression.

Developing Essential Skills and Attributes

Library assistants need to possess a range of skills and attributes. Good organizational skills are crucial for managing and cataloguing resources. Strong communication skills are needed for assisting patrons and liaising with other library staff. Technological proficiency is also important, as library assistants often use computer systems to manage library resources and provide information services. Additionally, having a passion for books and knowledge can make the job more enjoyable and fulfilling. Library assistants often need to be self-motivated and able to work independently, but they also need to be team players who can collaborate effectively with other staff members.

Seeking Professional Development Opportunities

Continual learning is key in the ever-evolving field of library science. Library assistants should consider joining professional organizations like the American Library Association (ALA) or participating in continuing education programs. These opportunities can provide networking opportunities, access to industry news and trends, and chances to learn about new library technologies and practices.

Pursuing Career Advancement

With experience, library assistants can progress to higher positions such as senior library assistant, library technician, or even librarian. To reach these levels, however, typically requires further education. For example, most librarian roles require a Master’s Degree in Library Science (MLS). Taking on more responsibilities in your current role, such as managing special projects or supervising other staff, can also help to demonstrate your readiness for advancement. In conclusion, success in a library assistant career path requires a combination of the right education, skills, continual learning, and strategic career moves. By following these tips, you can navigate your way to a rewarding and successful career in library assistance.

What Does a Library Assistant Do?

A library assistant plays a crucial role in maintaining the smooth operation of a library. Their main responsibilities include managing the circulation of library materials, assisting patrons with their queries, and helping with cataloging resources. They also aid librarians in organizing events, programs, and workshops. A library assistant must be proficient in using library systems and databases to assist with enquiries and locate resources. Additionally, they may be required to perform administrative tasks such as answering phone calls, scheduling appointments, and maintaining records.

What Skills Do You Need to Be a Library Assistant?

Being a library assistant requires a unique set of skills. First and foremost, you need excellent customer service skills as you'll be assisting patrons on a daily basis. Strong communication skills are necessary to effectively interact with patrons and other staff members. You also need to have good organizational skills and attention to detail, as you'll be involved in cataloguing and managing the library's resources. Familiarity with library systems and databases is crucial, as is the ability to use standard office equipment and software. Finally, a love for books and learning can make this career path more enjoyable and fulfilling.

How Do You Become a Library Assistant?

The path to becoming a library assistant generally starts with obtaining a high school diploma or its equivalent. Some libraries might require a post-secondary degree or certificate in library science or a related field. Experience in customer service or administrative roles can be beneficial. Volunteering or interning at your local library can provide valuable experience and exposure to the environment. Many libraries offer on-the-job training, which allows you to learn specific procedures, systems, and tasks. Continuing education through workshops or seminars can also be advantageous as it keeps you updated with the latest trends and technologies in the library world.

What is the Career Path for a Library Assistant?

The career path for a library assistant can be diverse and rewarding. Many library assistants start in entry-level roles and progress to senior or specialist roles with more responsibility. With additional education and experience, you may have opportunities to become a librarian or library manager. Some library assistants also specialize in areas such as children's literature, information technology, or archival work.

How Much Does a Library Assistant Make?

The salary for a library assistant can vary depending on factors like location, experience, and the size of the library. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for library assistants was $29,500 as of May 2019. However, library assistants working in government or higher education institutions may earn higher salaries.

What is the Job Outlook for Library Assistants?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for library assistants is expected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations through 2029. This growth may be driven by the continuing need for libraries to adapt to new technologies and provide a wider range of services to patrons.