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A librarian assistant is generally a helper who works under a head librarian. Librarian assistants can be an essential part of staff for a wide spectrum of libraries, from small local public libraries, to university libraries, or more complex corporate research libraries and other archival institutions. Library assistants perform many different roles as general aides in the library office.
In the terminology of the library science industry, a librarian assistant also may be referred to as a librarian’s assistant or library aide. He or she might also be called a circulation assistant, if his or her main role relates to keeping materials in circulation. Some librarian assistants operate on this basis, where others are more involved in complex archive tasks.
One thing that a librarian assistant may do frequently is working “on the desk.” These kinds of tasks include meeting visitors and helping them to check out books or return them. In other cases, or at other times, librarian assistants may help to replace disordered books or periodicals, often working from a cart or other conveyance. This helps keep the shelves in order, and is an essential part of maintaining a library.
In addition to the above, a librarian assistant may help change out periodicals, such as newspapers and magazines, that need to be replaced on a continual basis. The librarian assistant, or assistants, may also help with media in different formats, including technological formats like microfilm or microfiche, or newer digitized formats. Computer skills are extremely helpful in qualifying most librarian assistants to do their jobs.
On the other side of the spectrum, a librarian assistant might occasionally help out with more physical tasks; these might include repairing print books and keeping them in good condition. Over time, bindings and other elements of the book can fall into disrepair, especially with heavy use. Librarian assistants can help to make sure that visitors to a library have well-maintained resources at their disposal.
Government agencies in many countries have identified a good general prospect for this job role. Although the library science field is relatively small in most nations, skilled archivists can be in demand as economies struggle to replace outdated archival systems with new more efficient digital systems. A librarian assistant may be an active role in this kind of implementation and will become more valued as he or she developes valuable IT or information skills.