There are approximately 94,700 library technicians employed in the United States. Most library technicians work in grammar school, middle school, high school, college, university, and public libraries. The rest work for government libraries (primarily at the Library of Congress and the U.S. Department of Defense), in special libraries for privately held institutions, and in corporate libraries. Many types of organizations employ library technicians. For example, library technicians are key personnel at archives, zoos, museums, hospitals, fraternal organizations, historical societies, medical centers, law firms, professional societies, advertising agencies, and virtual libraries. In general, wherever there is a library, library technicians are needed.
Since specific training requirements vary from library to library, if you are interested in a career as a library technician, you should be familiar with the requirements of the libraries in which you hope to work. In some small libraries, for instance, a high school diploma may be sufficient, and a technician might not need a college degree. However, since most libraries require their library technicians to be graduates of at least a two-year associate's degree program, you should have earned or be close to earning this degree before applying.
In most cases, graduates of training programs for library technicians may seek employment through the career services offices of their community colleges. Job applicants may also approach libraries directly, usually by contacting the personnel officer of the library or the human resources administrator of the organization. Civil service examination notices, for those interested in government service, are usually posted in community colleges as well as in government buildings and on government Web sites.
Many state library agencies maintain job hotlines listing openings for prospective library technicians. State departments of education also may keep lists of openings available for library technicians. If you are interested in working in a school library media center, you should remember that most openings occur at the end of the school year and are filled for the following year.
The trend toward requiring more formal training for library technicians suggests that advancement opportunities will be limited for those lacking such training. In smaller libraries and less-populated areas, the shortage of trained personnel may lessen this limitation. Nonetheless, those with adequate or above-average training will perform the more interesting tasks.
Generally, library technicians advance by taking on greater levels of responsibility. A new technician, for instance, may check materials in and out at the library's circulation desk and then move on to inputting, storing, and verifying information. Experienced technicians in supervisory roles might be responsible for budgets and personnel or the operation of an entire department. Library technicians will find that experience, along with continuing education courses, will enhance their chances for advancement.
Library technicians might also advance by pursuing a master's degree in library and information science and becoming a librarian. With experience, additional courses, or an advanced degree, technicians can also advance to higher paying positions outside of the library setting.
Tips for Entry
Visit http://www.ala.org/educationcareers/careers/librarycareerssite/home for more information on library science careers.
Visit the following Web sites for job listings:
Become certified by the American Library Association (ALA) in order to show employers that you have met the highest standards established by your industry.
Attend conferences held by professional associations such as the ALA in order to network, pursue continuing education, and learn more about the field.