Paralibrarian: Job Description and Education Requirements

Sep 28, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a paralibrarian. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and training to find out if this is the career for you.

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Paraprofessional librarians provide general support in libraries, such as helping patrons with locating reference materials and reshelving books. Paraprofessional librarians are typically required to have a high school diploma or bachelor's degree.

Essential Information

A paraprofessional librarian, or paralibrarian, might perform the same duties as a librarian, but he or she does not have a master's degree in library and information science. Instead, educational requirements for paralibrarians range from a high school diploma to a bachelor's degree.

Required Education Varies, ranging from high school diploma to undergraduate degree in library science
Other Requirements On-the-job training may be required
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* -3% for library technicians; -3% for clerical library assistants
Median Salary (2018)* $34,040 for library technicians; $26,500 for clerical library assistants

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Paralibrarian Job Description

Paralibrarians are members of a library's support staff. Their duties might include helping patrons find reference materials, reshelving books, working the help desk, handling online requests and interlibrary loans, processing new library cards and conducting inventory. They also might oversee library events, such as book sales, reading programs, book readings or movie nights. Some libraries utilize a paralibrarian to operate their mobile units, which requires that the paralibrarian have a driver's license. Additionally, a paralibrarian may take over the responsibilities of a head librarian if the librarian is on vacation or otherwise unavailable.

Paralibrarian Educational Requirements

Some paralibrarian positions, such as library assistants, require only a high school diploma or General Educational Development (GED) credential, coupled with basic computer experience. However, other libraries seek candidates for library technician positions who also have some work experience, such as a past job in the clerical field, and postsecondary education. Paralibrarian positions that don't require postsecondary education generally include on-the-job training.

Other libraries, including those that are part of a law firm or medical facility, might require paraprofessional librarians to hold an undergraduate degree in library science. Associate's degree programs in this field typically last two years and cover such topics as Internet research, library information technology and copyright law. A bachelor's program in library science generally takes four years to complete and includes classes in cataloging and classification, basic reference research and library administration. Bachelor's candidates also may be required to complete a supervised field experience.

Paralibrarians who hope to advance to positions such as head librarian or school librarian should continue their education in a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) program. In addition to a graduate degree, aspiring school librarians might need to pass a comprehensive exam and earn teacher certification.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

In 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected a 3% decrease in job growth for library technicians and a 3% decrease for library assistant, clerical positions, through 2028. The BLS reported an annual median salary of $34,040 for library technicians in 2018, and a median yearly wage of $26,500 for library assistants, clerical.

Paraprofessional librarians assist with daily activities within libraries. This typically includes helping visitors, reshelving books, and processing library cards. Unlike librarians who are required to have a master's degree, paraprofessional librarians are only required to have a high school diploma or undergraduate degree.

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