School library technicians have two major responsibilities: first, assisting librarians in acquiring, preparing, and organizing materials and second, helping students locate and use information. In some situations, they may work without supervision, but usually they are under the supervision of a librarian. They are increasingly involved in using new technologies, such as CD-ROM, the Internet, virtual libraries, and automated databases, and they are increasingly taking on responsibilities previously assumed by librarians. Their duties may include directing users to standard references, organizing periodicals, preparing volumes for binding, preparing invoices, cataloguing library materials, retrieving information from computer databases, and supervising support staff.
School library technicians also instruct students in the use of the library and encourage them to become more familiar with library systems and media centers. They may assist teachers in obtaining instructional materials, as well as help students complete special assignments. They teach students how to use computer systems to access data. Increased automation has reduced the amount of time library technicians spend completing clerical tasks. Many libraries have self-serve systems operated by computers, reducing the need for technicians to spend time recording and inputting records.
School library technicians should have many of the same skills and traits of school librarians. They must have knowledge of a wide variety of scholarly and public information sources and must follow trends related to publishing, computers, and the media in order to oversee the selection and organization of library materials. They need to enjoy the challenge and stress of assisting students in obtaining information or books for their schoolwork. They also should be comfortable with spending a significant portion of their time at desks or in front of computer terminals.
In 2002, school library technicians earned a median annual salary of $24,090. Earnings ranged from the lowest 10%, who earned less than $14,410, to the highest 10%, who earned more than $38,000.
Training and Education
School librarian technician positions have a range of requirements, from a high school diploma to a specialized postsecondary education. Some have little experience and are trained on the job, while others are hired because they already have work experience. Some jobs require a bachelor’s or associate’s degree. Because of the rapid development of technology in the library environment, computer skills have become necessary, and knowledge of databases, library automation systems, and circulation systems can be very helpful.
Associate-of-arts degrees in library technology are offered through some 2-year institutions. These programs are composed of library-related study, as well as liberal arts courses. Students graduate with knowledge of library and media organization and operation, as well as the skills of ordering, processing, cataloguing, locating, and circulating library materials. Technicians can keep their skills up-to-date by taking continuing education courses offered by libraries and associations.
In 2002, library technicians held about 119,000 jobs.
Between 2002 and 2012, employment of school library technicians is expected to grow about as fast as the average. This will be largely due to the increased use of library automation. Library automation has simplified many tasks that were previously only performed by librarians. Now library technicians are able to perform those tasks. Budgetary constraints should temper growth, but will also result in the hiring of fewer librarians and more library technicians.
For more information on how to pursue this profession, please see our Education Degree directory.