What Does a Library Assistant Do? Job Scope and Skills

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 6 December 2022

Published 2 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Working as a library assistant may be an interesting and fulfilling career choice for you. A library assistant's job responsibilities and tasks may vary daily and each library assistant may have specific jobs within the team. Learning more about what a library assistant does may help you make an informed decision about whether this profession is for you. In this article, we elaborate on what a library assistant does, the average salary of a library assistant and some useful skills to have as a library assistant.

Related: How to Become a Librarian (With Salary Info and FAQs)

What does a library assistant do?

A library assistant serves a team of librarians and the exact size of the librarian team may differ depending on the size of the library and its corresponding human resource requirements. A library assistant may perform many roles and responsibilities throughout their career and may take on a wider scope of responsibilities and tasks after a period of training. Here are some common roles and daily responsibilities of a library assistant:

Assist library users with queries

A key task of a library assistant is to assist library users with any queries they may have. For example, you may encounter individuals who ask about where to find specific books, certain authors or a defined book genre. Alternatively, you may answer queries relating to the history of the library and the architecture of the building if the library has a unique exterior. Other questions library users may ask relate to administrative matters, such as how to borrow library books or where to find the library counters.

As part of this role, your target is to help these library users find answers to their questions in a simple, fast and efficient manner. You may wish to familiarise yourself with the layout of the library and where certain books are so that you can assist library users. It is also an option to observe the common queries that users may have and compile a simple FAQ list for your reference when helping library users.

Related: 13 Essential Administrative Skills (Plus How to Improve)

Maintain library records

Another key job scope of a library assistant is to maintain library records. This involves filing records relating to book borrowing. You may also help replace old or worn-out library records to ensure that these records remain readable. If the library organises events for external parties, a library assistant may also ensure that the event runs smoothly by helping with event registration or event ushering. They may also help to ensure silence in the library so that all library users can enjoy the common facilities.

Related: Who Is an Archivist? With Duties, Education and Skills

Mentor junior library assistants

A library assistant may also serve as a mentor to more junior library assistants or student interns. You may also be in charge of volunteers who help at the library in their free time. As a mentor, your task is to guide the juniors and assist in their transition into the new job scope. Providing tips about the workplace and job scope, answering questions and ensuring the welfare of others could also be part of your job scope as a mentor. If you have an interest in growing your leadership capabilities, being a mentor is a good way to begin.

Another role as a mentor could involve assisting others in solving problems at work. For example, you may mediate any conflicts that arise in the workplace. By guiding the other library assistants and team members, you take part in creating a positive, encouraging and welcoming workplace for all. Consequently, staff members may feel more motivated to do their best for the library.

Related: How to Write an Effective Librarian Resume in 7 Steps

How much does a library assistant earn?

A library assistant's salary may vary depending on the number of years of work experience you have and the responsibilities you accept in your job position. Salaries may also differ depending on the set of skills you possess as a library assistant. For your reference, the average base salary of a library assistant is $1,806 per month.

Related: 8 Library Roles (Plus Career Scope, Salary and Job Duties)

How to get a job as a library assistant?

If you aim to become a library assistant in the future, it could be worth starting early to maximise your chances of successfully obtaining this job. Building your portfolio early may give you an advantage over other competitors applying for the same job. Here are some steps to consider before becoming a library assistant:

1. Acquire a relevant degree

One step which may help you become a library assistant is acquiring a relevant degree. Ideally, the degree equips you with skills relating to areas of research and administrative work. It may also be a bonus if you can analyse the content of books to help the library categorise and promote its book options to library users. You may want to consider pursuing a degree in which you have an interest, such as legal studies, technological databases or even academic research.

2. Accumulate real-life work experience

Another useful step to take is accumulating real-life work experience. This could be in the form of internships at a library during your school vacations. Alternatively, you may find it more suitable to work part-time at your nearby library during lull periods in university. These opportunities provide you with a chance to witness how library assistants work, and you may ask your mentor or supervisor questions relating to the industry.

Such experience may also be beneficial for you to include in your resume. Employers or hiring managers may look favourably upon your application if you have relevant prior work experience, as this could indicate a shorter transition period. Work experience can also be a discussion point during your interviews to demonstrate why you are suitable for the job position.

Related: What Is a Librarian Resume Objective? (With Examples)

3. Build your network

You may also want to consider building your network to help you become a library assistant. These connections could be valuable in the long term when you are looking for a job or require a recommendation from a trusted individual. Networking takes time and practice, so it is a good option to start early. One way of building your network is through internships and work experiences, where you get to meet new people within the industry. Alternatively, you may attend events and networking sessions to get to know recruiters and other individuals with connections to key stakeholders within the library industry.

Related: Why Is Networking Important and How to Start Networking

Library assistant skills

There is no fixed set of skills for a library assistant to have. The skills you use and acquire could develop over the years as you gain more work experience. Here is a list of skills you may wish to acquire to increase your chances of succeeding in your job position:

Communication skills

A library assistant is often communicating with other stakeholders, such as library users and their colleagues. By being a skilled communicator, you may find it easy to convey your thoughts and feelings clearly and articulately. This is useful when answering questions because others can obtain the answer they seek. Also, being concise and articulate helps to reduce the chances of misunderstanding and miscommunication.

Having good communication skills may also increase your value within the team. You may find yourself apt at resolving conflicts or diffusing tension between colleagues. This in turn builds rapport within the team and strengthens the bond between colleagues.

Related: Verbal Communication Examples (With Benefits and Tips)

Organisational skills

A library assistant may also find it helpful to have good organisational skills. You may find yourself organising books, and internal documents and maintaining the tidiness of the library. For books, you may have the task of organising them by book title, authors or genres. There may also be instances where you help to keep time or ensure that events run according to schedule. As such, having a general inclination to keep things in order may be useful at work.

Related: Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills: Definitions and Examples

Time management skills

It may be useful to have exceptional time management skills. As mentioned earlier, a library assistant has a wide range of job scopes. These tasks may compete for your time hence being apt at managing your time could help reduce your stress at work. Learning how to delegate tasks where suitable also renders good time management skills.

Related: How To Manage Time (With 23 Time Management Tips and Advice)

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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