What they do
Library assistants support librarians and library technicians by performing routine customer service and library maintenance duties. They work at the loans desk, recording the issuing and returning of books and other library items, sending out overdue reminders and collecting fines when loans are overdue. Library assistants also sort returned materials and re-shelve them in the appropriate location and assist library users to locate particular publications. These assistants may also be responsible for unpacking and preparing new materials, which can include entering their details into the library database, and attaching barcodes and labels to assist with shelving and record keeping. In some cases, they may also inspect materials for damage and make minor repairs.
Working conditions can vary greatly between libraries, depending on the size, location and type of library. In Western Australia, there are several hundred public libraries located throughout the State, in both regional and metropolitan areas. There are also a large number of university, government and business libraries, though not all libraries will necessarily employ library assistants. The majority of library assistants in Western Australia work in the Perth metropolitan area. Evening and weekend work may be required, however this may vary depending on the size and location of the library. Library assistants may spend long periods standing.
Tools and technologies
Library assistants use computers to record the lending and return of library materials, to access information stored in electronic databases and journals. They will also need to be familiar with a number of specialised electronic databases and catalogues used to manage and locate records and information both in their own library, and in some cases, at other locations. Trolleys are often used to transport books around the library for shelving, and ladders may be used to reach high shelves.
How do I become one?
Education and training
It is possible to work as a library assistant without any formal qualifications and get training on the job. However, entry into this occupation may be improved by obtaining a qualification in library and information services.
The Certificates III IV in Library and Information Services are offered at TAFE colleges throughout Western Australia.
You can also undertake a traineeship in library and information services. The traineeship usually takes 12 to 36 months to complete.
Apprenticeships and traineeships
As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer, enabling you to complete training towards a nationally recognised qualification. You spend time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider.
You can do an apprenticeship or traineeship if you are a school-leaver, re-entering the workforce or as an adult or mature-aged person wishing to change careers. You can even begin your apprenticeship or traineeship while you're still at school.
If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.
Required registration and licensing