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Job Descriptions

Library Assistant

Library assistants are typically employed in libraries located in local public libraries, educational institutions (e.g., schools, colleges, and universities), or museums. If you are a library assistant, you will have some clearly defined and repetitive tasks (e.g., re-shelving books, and ensuring library materials are in the proper order).


This job typically requires a minimum of high school diploma and/or a GED certificate. Some employers may also require an associate’s degree or certification as a library assistant or technician. If this is the case, they will specify this requirement in their job advertisements.

Previous Experience

Previous experience doing similar work (e.g., sorting books) or working in a similar setting is preferred. However, it is strongly encouraged that you apply if you have the required education and skills!

Job Duties

  • Check out library books for patrons at the circulation desk.
  • Check in returned library books from patrons.
  • Sort library materials (e.g., books, audio-visual items, periodicals) and re-shelve materials to their proper place.
  • Push and pull book carts throughout the library.
  • Find materials as requested by patrons or librarians.
  • Inspect library materials for condition quality and alert your supervisor to any materials that need re-laminating or new book covers.
  • Enter data into a computer system as requested by your supervisor.
  • Maintain and order library catalogues, ensuring that books and other materials are properly categorized and classified according to the classification systems used.
  • Respond to patron questions in person or over the phone as needed.

What’s Your Scene?

This job requires that you are able to work ‘Behind the Scene’. If you are working as a library assistant, you may not have to have conversations with library patrons on a regular basis, however, you may need to greet patrons and answer their questions.  You may be required to speak with and interact with co-workers (e.g., other library staff) or take direction from your supervisor.

Skills / Abilities

Customer Service Skills - You will need to know how to provide excellent customer service.  This includes being able to determine if the customer is satisfied, and to meet their needs. It requires the ability to accept complaints from customers, and to calmly deal with high stress situations and angry customers. Displaying a pleasant and cooperative attitude is important.

Reading Comprehension - Demonstrated ability to read, and follow written instructions and ideas.

Oral Comprehension - Demonstrated ability to understand and follow verbal instructions and ideas.

Computer Knowledge - You will need to have some knowledge of computers as you may need to enter information into a computer program.

Organization and Prioritization - This job requires the ability to clearly organize and categorize work priorities to complete your work.

Environmental Demands

Location – If you work in a library, you will be indoors in a climate-controlled setting.

Noise Level - The noise level will be quite in a library.

Lighting Level - Libraries usually use florescent lighting but can also use natural lighting that comes through windows.

Work Hours- This job may have part-time or full-time shifts. You will need to check with your supervisor for the schedule.

Amount of Movement –This job typically requires that you sit and stand.  You will need to be able to sit, stand, stoop, bend, reach, push, pull, climb, and walk for this job. For example, you may be pushing a book cart, and climbing on to a stool to re-shelve books.

Cleanliness and Odors - This job setting is generally clean. You will also want to make sure you keep your work area and surrounding areas neat and tidy.

Work Attire - Work attire will typically be business casual clothing.

Structure and Predictability - This job will typically have a moderate degree of structure and predictability.  This means that sometimes you will complete the same tasks each day and you may be able to complete these tasks in the same order each day (e.g., checking in returned books, re-shelving books) or you may have different tasks each day.  You will probably know how long each task should take you to complete.  You may work in the same area each day, and you will probably interact with the same co-workers, although you will encounter different library patrons each day.

What's the Pace?

    • Steady: In most cases, the work pace will be steady, which means that you will always have some work to do.  When the work pace is steady, you are working at a level “5” on a scale of “1” (nothing to do) to “10” (extremely busy, rushed pace).

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