What Does a Library Technician Do?

Job Description

Library technician assists a child
Steve Debenport / Getty Images

A library technician is one member of a library's staff. He or she may work in public, academic, school, medical, law, or government agency libraries.

Working under the supervision of a librarian, this paraprofessional acquires and organizes materials, lends resources to patrons,  and organizes and reshelves items after patrons or users return them.

The scope of a library technician's duties varies according to the size of the facility. In some libraries, he or she may answer routine questions, teach patrons or users how to use resources, and plan programs. Many also have clerical duties including answering telephones and filing.

Quick Facts

  • Library technicians earn a median salary $32,890 annually or $15.81 per hour (2016).
  • This occupation employs approximately 99,000 people (2016).
  • Employers include public, school, university, law, medical, and corporate libraries.
  • About two out of three jobs are part-time positions.
  • Library technicians can expect a good job outlook according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This government agency expects employment to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations between 2016 and 2026.

Roles and Responsibilities

We looked at job announcements listed on Indeed.com to learn about the job duties of a library technician. Here are some of them:

  • "Provide information service, such as answering questions regarding card catalogs, and assist in the use of bibliographic tools, such as Library of Congress catalog"
  • "Check books and materials in and out at the circulation desk"
  • "Maintain student discipline in the library"
  • "Communicate with a wide variety of patrons by telephone, letter, or electronic means regarding routine and non-routine questions on services to publishers and other specialized library services"
  • "Process print and non-print library materials to prepare them for inclusion in library collections"
  • "Maintain and update databases/inventories of documents"
  • "Remove or repair damaged books or other media"

How to Become a Library Technician

According to the American Library Association (ALA), training requirements for library technicians range from a high school diploma to a specialized postsecondary training in library technology (Becoming a Library Assistant or Technician. American Library Association). Depending on the postsecondary training you receive, you can earn a certificate or an associate degree. Expect to learn about acquisitions, cataloging, information literacy and research, and public services. The ALA maintains a list of Library Certificate and Degree Programs.

Library technicians need excellent computer skills and must keep up with the continuously changing technology used in libraries. Professional associations offer continuing education workshops to help library technicians keep up with new developments in the field.

What Soft Skills Do You Need to Succeed in This Career?

You will acquire the hard skills that will allow you to perform your job in the classroom or through on-the-job training. There are soft skills that are essential to your success in this occupation. You were either born with these personal qualities or can get them through life experiences. They are:

  • Reading Comprehension: The ability to understand documents in order to organize them properly.
  • Active Listening: This skill will allow you to understand patron's needs and coworkers' instructions.
  • Verbal Communication: To answer patrons' questions and instruct them, you will need excellent speaking skills
  • Interpersonal Skills: Strong interpersonal skills will allow you to provide excellent service to patrons and work well with colleagues.

What Will Employers Expect From You?

We again turned to Indeed.com to find out what employers require from job candidates applying for positions in this field. This is what we found:

  • "Skill in attending to detail"
  • "Ability to follow instructions with exactness and work unsupervised"
  • "Familiarity with Microsoft Office software"
  • "Able to shelve items on top shelves (which could be up to 80" off ground). Step stools are available"
  • "Ability to lift/carry/push/pull up to 25 pounds on a regular basis and up to 50 pounds occasionally"
  • "Able to manage multiple tasks in a fast-paced environment"
  • "Communicate effectively with clients of varied educational levels and backgrounds sufficient to determine and respond to their informational needs"

Is This Occupation a Good Fit for You?

Before you decide to become a library technician, especially if you are going to invest money in a degree or certificate, make sure it is a good match for your interests, personality type, and work-related values. If you have the following traits, you may enjoy working in this occupation:

  • Interests (Holland Code): CSE (Conventional, Social, Enterprising)
  • Personality Type (MBTI Personality Types): ISTJ, ESTP, ESFP, INFJ
  • Work-Related Values: Relationships, Support, Working Conditions

Occupations With Related Activities and Tasks

Occupation Description Median Annual Wage (2016) Minimum Required Education/Training
Library Assistant Performs clerical duties in a library


HS Diploma
Librarian Selects and organizes materials in a library and teaches people how to use them


Master's Degree in Library Science
Curator Acquires, exhibits and stores collections in a museum


Master's Degree
Teacher Assistant Provides extra instruction and attention to students under a teacher's supervision $25,410 Associate Degree or 2 Years of College Coursework
Instructional Coordinator Develops and coordinates implementation of instructional material in a school $62,460 Master's Degree

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor,  Occupational Outlook Handbook; Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor,  O*NET Online (visited March 9, 2018).