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Library Technicians and Library Assistants - What They Do


How to Advance (Advancement)
Library technicians and assistants usually advance by assuming added responsibilities. For example, they often start at the circulation desk, checking books in and out. After gaining experience, they may become responsible for storing and verifying information. As they advance, they may become involved in budget and personnel matters. Some advance to supervisory positions and are in charge of the day-to-day operation of their departments or, sometimes, a small library. Those who earn a graduate degree in library sciences can become librarians.

Employment
Library technicians held about 120,600 jobs in 2008; about 51 percent were employed by local governments. The Federal Government employs library technicians primarily at the U.S. Department of Defense.

Library assistants held about 122,000 jobs in 2008. About 52 percent of these workers were employed by local governments.

Job Outlook
Employment of library technicians and assistants is expected to grow about 10 percent, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations. Opportunities will be best for those with specialized postsecondary library training. Prospects should be good, because many workers leave these jobs and need to be replaced.

Job Growth
Between 2008 and 2018, the number of library technicians is expected to grow about 9 percent, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations and the number of library assistants is expected to grow by about 11 percent, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations. Increasing use of library automation creates more opportunities for these workers. Electronic information systems have simplified some tasks, enabling them to be performed by technicians, rather than librarians, and spurring demand for technicians. However, job growth in educational institutions will be limited by slowing enrollment growth. In addition, public libraries often face budget pressures, which hold down overall growth in library services. However, this may result in the hiring of more of these workers, because they are paid less than librarians and, thus, represent a lower-cost way to offer some library services. Employment should grow more rapidly in special libraries because increasing numbers of professionals and other workers use those libraries. Because these workers are largely employed by public institutions, they are not directly affected by the ups and downs of the business cycle, but they may be affected by changes in the level of government funding for libraries.

Job prospects should be favorable. In addition to job openings from employment growth, some openings will result from the need to replace library technicians who transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force. Opportunities will be best for library technicians with specialized postsecondary library training. Each year, many people leave this relatively low-paying occupation for other occupations that offer higher pay or full-time work. This creates good job opportunities for those who want to become library assistants.

Earnings
Median hourly wages of library technicians in May 2008 were $13.86. The middle 50 percent earned between $10.55 and $17.77. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $8.23, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $22.01.

Salaries of library technicians in the Federal Government averaged $44,265 in March 2009.

Median hourly wages of library assistants were $10.88 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $8.52 and $14.18. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $7.47, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $17.61.

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Academic Programs of Interest

Library Science
Library science is an interdisciplinary science incorporating the humanities, law and applied science to study topics related to libraries, the collection, organization, preservation and dissemination of information resources, and the political economy of information. Historically, library science has ...more