California Occupational Guides

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Detailed Guide for

Library Assistants, Clerical in California

May also be called: Acquisitions Assistants; Circulation Representatives; Library Aides; Library Associates; Library Circulation Assistants; Library Clerks; Library Media Assistants; Library Services Assistants; Library Technical Assistants

What Would I Do?

Library Assistants, Clerical help librarians with the operation of a library. Library Assistants perform many duties that require knowledge of terminology, practices, systems, and procedures that are unique to a library setting. In the circulation department, they reserve, renew and discharge books and other materials. They issue patrons library cards according to established procedures. When necessary, Library Assistants send out notices and collect fines for lost or overdue books. They may assist in the acquisition of books, pamphlets, periodicals and audio-visual materials by checking prices, determining costs and preparing appropriate order forms. With increased use of computerized systems, Library Assistants are often responsible for entering data into automated order and cataloging systems.

When an item is returned, Library Assistants inspect it for damage and scan it to record its return. Electronic circulation systems automatically generate notices reminding patrons that their materials are overdue, but Library Assistants may review the record for accuracy before sending out the notice. They answer patrons’ questions, search databases for materials, or refer them to a librarian.

Library Assistants sort returned books, periodicals, and other items and restock. Before restocking, they may make repairs to damaged materials. For example, they may use tape or paste to repair torn pages or book covers and use other specialized processes to repair more valuable materials.

Library Assistants also locate materials being lent to a patron or another library. Because nearly all library catalogs are computerized, Library Assistants must be familiar with computers. They may help patrons with computer searches. Some Library Assistants specialize in helping patrons who have vision problems. Sometimes referred to as Braille and talking books clerks, these Library Assistants review the patron’s list of desired reading materials, and locate those materials or close substitutes from the library collection of large-type or Braille volumes and books on tape. Then, they give or mail the materials to the patron.

Some Library Assistants work in specialized libraries within law offices, research facilities, and medical offices.

Tools and Technology

Some tools Library Assistants may work with are microfiche or microfilm views, cash register machines, adding machines, and bar code reader equipment. They may also work with different types of technology such as library software, databases and query software, and word processing software.

Important Tasks and Related Skills

Each task below is matched to a sample skill required to carry out the task.

View the skill definitions
TaskSkill Used in this Task
Sort books, publications, and other items according to established procedure and return them to shelves, files, or other designated storage areas.Information Ordering
Lend and collect books, periodicals, videotapes, and other materials at circulation desks.Customer and Personal Service
Inspect returned books for condition and due-date status, and compute any applicable fines.Near Vision
Locate library materials for patrons, including books, periodicals, tape cassettes, Braille volumes, and pictures.Oral Comprehension
Instruct patrons on how to use reference sources, card catalogs, and automated information systems.Oral Expression
Enter and update patrons' records on computers.Clerical
Answer routine inquiries, and refer patrons in need of professional assistance to librarians.Service Orientation
Process new materials including books, audiovisual materials, and computer software.Category Flexibility
Source: U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Information Network (O*NET)

Working Conditions

The work can be stimulating and interesting, but it may be stressful for those working with the public. It is essential for Library Assistants to have the ability to deal tactfully and effectively with other employees and the public.

Library Assistants in circulation and reference are on their feet much of the day. The job requires stooping, bending, as well as reaching, handling, and lifting of light loads of books and other materials.

Library Assistants in the acquisitions and cataloging departments work at desks or computer terminals most of the day. Constant work with video display terminals can cause headaches and eyestrain if proper ergonomic practices are not followed.

Some Library Assistants may belong to a union, such as the California local chapters of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) or the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

Library Assistants in school libraries work during regular school hours. Those in public libraries and college and university libraries also work weekends, evenings, and some holidays.

Will This Job Fit Me?

The job of Library Assistants will appeal to those who enjoy working in an organized environment, where they work more with data and details than with ideas. Individuals considering this occupation must also like performing duties that are clearly defined and require accurate attention to detail. The ability to communicate well with people and problem-solving skills are highly valued in this occupation.

Library Assistants need to have a pleasant personality, and have good public contact skills. They should also enjoy teaching and helping people.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?

Salaries for Library Assistants depend on experience, length of service, degree of responsibility, and education obtained. Wages vary from one geographical area to another and from industry to industry. Employees who work in larger libraries in metropolitan areas tend to earn the highest wages.


The median wage in 2017 for Library Assistants, Clerical in California was $30,010 annually, or $14.43 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

Change to Hourly Wages
Annual Wages for 2017Low
(25th percentile)
(50th percentile)
(75th percentile)
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2017 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
View Wages for All Areas


Most employers offer full-time employees medical and dental insurance, sick leave, vacation, and retirement plans. Some provide life insurance and vision care plans.

What is the Job Outlook?

Several variables impact employment for Library Assistants. The increased use of library automation will create more opportunities for these workers. Electronic information systems have simplified some tasks, enabling them to be performed by Library Assistants, rather than librarians, and spurring demand for Library Assistants. However, job growth in educational institutions will be limited by slowing student enrollment. In addition, public libraries often face budget pressures, which hold down overall growth in library services. However, this may result in the hiring of more of these workers, because they are paid less than librarians and, thus, represent a lower-cost way to offer some library services. Employment should grow more rapidly in special libraries because increasing numbers of professionals and other workers use those libraries. Because these workers are largely employed by public institutions, they are not directly affected by the ups and downs of the business cycle, but they may be affected by changes in the level of government funding for libraries.

Projections of Employment

In California, the number of Library Assistants, Clerical is expected to grow slower than average growth rate for all occupations. Jobs for Library Assistants, Clerical are expected to increase by 10.3 percent, or 1,000 jobs between 2014 and 2024.

Estimated Employment and Projected Growth
Library Assistants, Clerical
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-Projected Year)
Additional Openings
Due to Net
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
View Projected Growth for All Areas

Annual Job Openings

In California, an average of 100 new job openings per year is expected for Library Assistants, Clerical, plus an additional 300 job openings due to net replacement needs, resulting in a total of 400 job openings.

Estimated Average Annual Job Openings
Library Assistants, Clerical
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-
Projected Year)
Jobs From GrowthJobs Due to
Net Replacements
Total Annual
Job Openings
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
View Data for All Areas

How Do I Qualify?

Education, Training, and Other Requirements

Most Library Assistant jobs require a high school diploma or GED. In some cases, postsecondary education is required. Applicants should have computer skills; knowledge of databases and other library automation systems. Those interested in working in special libraries, such as law and medicine libraries should have good knowledge of their field.

Some two-year colleges offer a certificate and an associate degree in library information technology.


Library Assistants generally receive on-the-job training. However, employers often look for applicants who have library work experience or posses skills, such as prior computer experience or customer service. Employers may prefer some formal education or training.

Early Career Planning

Most employers prefer to hire applicants who have completed classes in language arts, computer technology, and foreign languages.

Apprenticeship and Work Study Programs

California offers Regional Occupational Programs (ROP). One such program is titled Library Aide.  To find an ROP program near you, go to the California Association of Regional Occupational Centers and Programs Web site.

Where Would I Work?

The largest industries employing Library Assistants, Clerical are as follows:

Industry TitlePercent of Total Employment for Occupation in California
Local Government54.9%
Elementary and Secondary Schools19.8%
Colleges and Universities16.2%
Other Information Services5.0%
Junior Colleges2.0%
Source: EDD/LMID Staffing Patterns

Finding a Job

Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods. Persons interested in government employment should apply at federal, State, city, and county personnel offices. Many schools operate job placement centers for their students. Jobs may also be found through registration with temporary employment agencies and through classified advertisements in newspapers and trade publications.  Online job opening systems include JobCentral at and CalJOBSSM at

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).

Yellow Page Headings

You can focus your local job search by checking employers listed online or in your local telephone directory. Below are some suggested headings where you might find employers of Library Assistants, Clerical.

  • Colleges
  • Library
  • Local Government
  • Private Schools
  • Public Library
  • Public Schools

Find Possible Employers

To locate a list of employers in your area, go to "Find Employers" on the Labor Market Information Web site:

  • Select one of the top industries that employ the occupation. This will give you a list of employers in that industry in your area.
  • Click on "View Filter Selections" to limit your list to specific cities or employer size.
  • Click on an employer for the street address, telephone number, size of business, Web site, etc.
  • Contact the employer for possible employment.

Where Could This Job Lead?

Library Assistants usually advance by assuming added responsibilities. Many begin by performing simple jobs such as shelving books or adding new books and periodicals to the database when they arrive. After gaining experience, they may move into positions that allow them to interact with patrons, such as staffing the circulation desk. In some libraries, experienced Library Assistants can advance to library technician positions, which involve more responsibility. Eventually they may advance to supervisory positions and are in charge of the day-to-day operation of their departments or, sometimes, a small library. Advancement opportunities are greater in large libraries. Those who earn a graduate degree in library sciences can become librarians.

Related Occupations

Below is a list of occupations related to Library Assistants, Clerical with links to more information.

Counter and Rental ClerksProfile
Library TechniciansProfile
Office Clerks, GeneralGuide
Receptionists and Information ClerksGuide

Other Sources

  • American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
  • American Library Association
  • Council on Library/Media Technology
  • Service Employees International Union

These links are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement by EDD.

For the Career Professional

The following codes are provided to assist counselors, job placement workers, or other career professionals.

SOC - Standard Occupational Classification43-4121
O*NET - Occupational Information Network
   Library Assistants, Clerical43-4121.00
   Interest Codes (RIASEC)CRS
CIP - Classification of Instructional Programs
   Library and Archives Assisting.250301
TOP - Taxonomy of Programs (California Community Colleges)
   Library Technician (Aide)160200