How Do I Become a Library Assistant?

Do you have the information-ordering skills to organize books, the computer skills required for successful research and a flair for providing great customer service? If so, you might be wondering how to become a library assistant. Library assistants provide customer service and assist with the organization and circulation of books and materials in order to help a library function more efficiently.

A library assistant helps library patrons locate the materials and information they need. Library assistants may also sign new patrons up for library cards so that they can check materials out of the library for further use. Organizational skills help library assistants organize and re-shelf books and other materials that have been borrowed and returned. A library assistant also participates in the circulation of library materials, from loaning out and collecting books to coordinating inter-library loans. When libraries host special events such as outreach programs and used-book sales, library assistants assist librarians in planning and executing the event.

Though most library assistants work in the libraries maintained by state and local governments, specialized library assistants work elsewhere. School library assistants instruct students on the most efficient use of library materials. Special library assistants work directly in libraries within a corporation, law firm, medical center or government agency to gather and organize information that is relevant to their employer. Library assistants also work with bookmobiles, trucks that function as mobile libraries for schools, nursing homes and shopping centers. When a library assistant is employed as part of a bookmobile program, driving the bookmobile joins the other responsibilities on his or her list, such as assisting patrons with questions and handling book checkouts and returns.

Library assistants do not have to meet an education requirement to be qualified for the job. In most cases, library assistants possess a high school diploma or have earned the equivalent General Education Development (GED) certificate. The American Library Association advises aspiring library assistants to develop clear communication skills, the capability to accurately count and handle money and proficiency in working with computers and other office machines. Library assistants must obey library policies involved in circulation of materials and managing patrons’ information at all times. To be a successful library assistant, candidates must develop a thorough understanding of library organizational systems. They must understand how to efficiently use computers to manage library databases and assist patients in finding the information and reference materials they need. As with other jobs that require customer-service skills, library assistants should be approachable and interact with patrons in a polite, friendly manner at all times.

The United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts career opportunities for library assistants to increase by 10 percent during the 2010 to 2020 decade, which is comparable to the average anticipated growth rate for all occupations. If you enjoy organizing and classifying materials and possess proficiency working with computers and providing customer service, knowing how to become a library assistant can help you begin a satisfying new career.

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