Is becoming a library assistant right for me?

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What do library assistants do?
Career Satisfaction
Are library assistants happy with their careers?
What are library assistants like?

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How to become a Library Assistant

To become a library assistant, you typically need a combination of education, skills, and experience. Here are some general steps you can take to pursue a career as a library assistant:

  • Obtain a High School Diploma or Equivalent: A high school diploma or equivalent is typically the minimum educational requirement for entry-level library assistant positions.
  • Gain Relevant Skills and Knowledge: Develop skills and knowledge that are valuable in a library setting. This can include excellent communication and customer service skills, attention to detail, organization skills, basic computer skills, and a passion for books and learning.
  • Pursue Library Science Courses or Certification: Consider enrolling in library science courses or earning a library and archives assisting certification. Many community colleges or online platforms offer programs or courses that provide foundational knowledge in library operations, cataloging, circulation systems, and reference services.
  • Gain Experience Through Volunteer Work: Seek opportunities to gain practical experience in a library setting. Volunteer at local libraries, school libraries, or community organizations to familiarize yourself with library operations, interact with patrons, and learn about library resources and services.
  • Apply for Library Assistant Positions: Monitor job boards, library websites, and local government websites for library assistant job openings. Tailor your resume and cover letter to highlight relevant skills and experiences. Emphasize your customer service skills, knowledge of library operations, and any relevant coursework or certifications.
  • Prepare for Interviews: If you are invited for an interview, research the library and its services beforehand. Be prepared to discuss your interest in the position, your experience working in a library or with the public, and your ability to handle various tasks and responsibilities.
  • Continue Learning and Professional Development: Stay updated on current library trends, technologies, and best practices. Join professional library associations and attend workshops or conferences to expand your knowledge and network with other professionals in the field.

Helpful Resources
Library assistants can benefit from a variety of resources that can support their professional development and enhance their skills. Here are some helpful resources:

  • American Library Association (ALA): The ALA offers resources, training, and networking opportunities for library professionals. Their website provides access to publications, webinars, conferences, and specialized sections dedicated to different library types and areas of interest.
  • Library Associations and Organizations: Explore regional, state, and local library associations or organizations. These groups often offer resources, workshops, conferences, and networking opportunities specifically tailored to library professionals in their respective regions.
  • Library Blogs and Websites: Many library-focused blogs and websites provide valuable information, insights, and resources for library assistants. Some popular ones include Library Journal, School Library Journal, Public Libraries Online, and the Library as Incubator Project.
  • Professional Development Courses and Webinars: Online platforms like Library Juice Academy, Infopeople, and WebJunction offer professional development courses and webinars for library staff. These resources cover a wide range of topics, from cataloging and reference services to library technology and management skills.
  • Library Software and Technology Providers: Familiarize yourself with library software and technology providers such as Innovative, Ex Libris, OCLC, and SirsiDynix. They often provide resources, webinars, and training materials on using their systems effectively.
  • Library Publications and Journals: Subscribe to library-related publications and journals to stay updated on industry trends and best practices. Some notable publications include Library Journal, School Library Connection, Information Today, and Public Libraries Magazine.
  • Library Listservs and Discussion Groups: Join relevant library-related listservs and discussion groups to engage with other library professionals, share experiences, and seek advice. ALA's various divisions, such as the Public Library Association (PLA) or the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), often have their own discussion lists or online communities.
  • Library Professional Networks: Connect with library professionals on social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. Join library-related groups or follow library associations and organizations to stay informed, participate in discussions, and build a professional network.
  • Library Cataloging and Classification Resources: Access resources like the Library of Congress Classification (LCC) and the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) manuals for guidance on cataloging and classifying library materials.
  • Library Continuing Education: Many libraries offer internal training and professional development opportunities for their staff. Take advantage of these programs to enhance your skills, learn about new technologies, and expand your knowledge base.