What Is a Paralibrarian?

Explore the career requirements for paralibrarians. Get the facts about education and licensure requirements, salary, and potential job growth to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Archival Studies degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Paralibrarian Do?

Paralibrarians, also referred to as library assistants or technicians, complete organizational, administrative, and customer service tasks to support librarians. Their duties include but are not limited to maintaining the catalog of library materials, sorting and reshelving books, and monitoring books loaned to patrons. They may help patrons check out books as well as receive returned materials, issue library cards, answer phones, and help patrons locate materials. Additional responsibilities may vary according to the size and nature of the library. For example, technicians in larger libraries may be assigned to a specific specialty or area. They may work in school, public, or specialty libraries and are generally supervised by a head librarian. Find out more about the necessary skills, training, and employment outlook for paralibrarians below.

Degree Required High school diploma and on-the-job training; postsecondary certificate or associate's degree preferred
Education Field of Study Library science
Library technician
Certification Option ALA-APA Library Support Staff Certification
Key Skills Organized, helpful, computer savvy
Job Growth (2014-2024) 5% growth (for library technicians and assistants*)
Average Salary (2015) $34,200 (for library technicians*)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are the Duties?

As a paralibrarian or library technician, you serve as support personnel to the librarian. You handle tasks to help keep the library organized, such as shelving books, completing paperwork, and coding new books. Customer service is another job duty and may include assisting customers with finding books, checking out books, locating the right resource materials, and signing up for library cards.

In some libraries, you may organize or teach library programs. You may also be asked to supervise other library staff or volunteers. Inspecting returned materials for damage, updating computer databases, and calling patrons about overdue books may be another aspect of your job.

Training

Some libraries will hire you with only a high school diploma, but the completion of a degree program may increase your job opportunities. A library technician certificate or associate's degree program provides education in the areas of library technology, cataloging methods, and customer service.

You may also consider a bachelor's degree in library science if you intend to become a librarian. In a bachelor's program, you may study topics such as library organization, administration, computerized systems, and library material selection. Cataloging methods, such as the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules (AACR) and Machine-Readable Cataloging (MARC), may be discussed.

You may also consider getting certified through the American Library Association-Allied Professional Association (ALA-APA). The ALA-APA offers the Library Support Staff Certification, which you can earn through meeting eligibility requirements and completing competency tests (www.ala-apa.org).

Employment Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), from 2014-2024, there was an expected growth in jobs for library technicians and assistants, including paralibrarians, of 5% (www.bls.gov). You can find paralibrarian jobs through libraries at schools, colleges, universities, government agencies, and museums. The BLS reported that a large number of openings were expected in publicly funded libraries. Funding cuts may lead to the opening of more technician and assistant jobs because they're lower paying positions than librarian, allowing limited funds to go further.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Health information technicians maintain health records and organize patient health data. They make sure that the information is accurate, secure, and accessible using coding and classification systems. They must have a postsecondary nondegree award. Receptionists and administrative assistants help maintain offices by providing information about their organization to the public. They also answer phones and greet visitors and must have a high school diploma or equivalent. Teacher assistants must complete some college coursework, and they assist teachers by giving students additional attention.

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