Library Assistant

Job Description:

Library assistants help librarians to manage the day-to-day running of a library.

Job Category:
Government & Public Services

What you will do:

You could work on a customer service desk to:

  • help users access print and online resources
  • organise IT access and answer library users’ queries
  • check materials in and out
  • deal with counter, phone and email enquiries

You may also:

  • catalogue new resources
  • shelve returned items and arrange repair of damaged materials
  • promote collections or new library resources
  • make sure copyright licence agreements are followed
  • maintain databases and records
  • help with events and activities like storytelling or author sessions


You’ll need:

  • knowledge of English language
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

As well as:

  • administration skills
  • the ability to work well with others (teamwork skills)
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • customer service skills
  • the ability to work on your own (drive)
  • to be flexible and open to change  (adaptability skills)
  • sensitivity and understanding
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a Library Assistant, you typically don’t need specific subjects, but having a strong educational background can be advantageous. Library Assistants often work in various capacities within libraries and may have responsibilities related to shelving books, assisting patrons, and helping with administrative tasks. Here are some subjects that can be helpful:

  1. English: Strong reading, writing, and communication skills are essential for Library Assistants, as they often interact with patrons and assist with written communications.
  2. Mathematics: Basic numeracy skills are useful for tasks such as inventory management and handling financial transactions, such as library fines or fees.
  3. IT or Computing: Library Assistants may need to use library management software, assist patrons with computer use, and troubleshoot common technology issues.
  4. Foreign Languages: Depending on the library’s location and patron demographics, having proficiency in foreign languages can be valuable, especially in libraries serving diverse communities.
  5. History or Geography: Familiarity with history and geography can be helpful when shelving and categorizing materials in libraries that house historical documents, maps, or local history collections.

Post School

You can get into this job through:

  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • volunteering
  • applying directly


In the UK, for example, you could do a Certificate or Diploma in Libraries, Archives and Information Services.


You could do a library, information and archive services assistant advanced apprenticeship.

This typically takes 18 months to complete as a mix of workplace learning and off-the-job study.


You could gain experience of working in a library through volunteering in school, college or local authority libraries.

Direct Application

You can apply for a job as a library assistant if you have some experience of working in a library, an archive or information service, for example as a volunteer.

Experience working in an administration, customer services or IT role would also be useful for applying directly.

For some assistant jobs, for example in industrial or commercial libraries, you may need certain qualifications. You may also need specialist knowledge like languages or science, depending on the job.

Career tips

A knowledge of information classification systems, like the Dewey Decimal Classification, may be useful, though not essential, as training would be given.

Working Hours and Environment:

A typical week consists of 34-36 hours of work. You could be required to work evenings/weekends on shifts.

You could work at a library, at a school, at a college or at a university.

Career Path & Progression:

With experience and qualifications, you could become a librarian.