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Library Assistant

Kaiāwhina Tiaki Pukapuka

Library assistants carry out a variety of tasks needed to help run a library including organising material and helping library users.

Pay

Library assistants usually earn

$31K-$49K per year

Source: Strategic Pay, 2016.

Job opportunities

Chances of getting a job as a library assistant are poor due to high competition for limited vacancies.

Pay

Pay for library assistants varies, but entry level pay is usually between $31,000 and $37,000 a year.

Salaries increase with more responsibilities, and some library assistants in senior positions can earn between $38,000 and $49,000 a year.

Source: Strategic Pay, 2016.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)

What you will do

Library assistants may do some or all of the following:

  • issue library materials such as books, magazines, CDs and DVDs
  • deal with customer enquiries
  • help customers use the online library catalogues, digital resources, or the internet
  • check and process library returns
  • sort, mend, file and shelve library material
  • help catalogue and prepare new materials for library use.

Skills and knowledge

Library assistants need to have:

  • an understanding of how to use library management systems and databases
  • knowledge of how information is organised in libraries
  • good general knowledge about the library they work in to help with customer enquiries.

Working conditions

Library assistants:

  • usually work regular business hours, but may work evenings and weekends, and many work part time or do shift work
  • work in libraries, offices or information centres, and mobile libraries (book buses).

What's the job really like?

Hana Whaanga.

Hana Whaanga - Library Assistant

Library work is about people as well as books

Hana helps a wide range of library users and splits her time between customers and administration. "Even when I am stamping and labelling books, I remember I'm processing these books so that people can retrieve them.

"To be a library assistant you should love relating to people. When I help someone locate resources or teach them how to use the catalogues, I feel good. I have enabled them to do something for themselves."

The right attitude important

"You need enthusiasm, a willingness to learn and of course you must actually want to help people. The idea that librarians have to love books, though, is an old, outdated belief. This job is not all about books; more and more the information industry accesses resources electronically.

"However, at the end of the day it's about helping people who are in need of something important. What I do means something to someone."

Hana is of Ngāti Kahungunu descent

Entry requirements

There are no specific entry requirements to become a library assistant. However, a tertiary qualification in library studies may be useful.

Open Polytechnic offers two distance-learning courses in library and information studies:

  • Certificate in Cataloguing
  • Diploma of Library and Information Studies (Level 5).

Library assistants who work on library book buses need a current New Zealand heavy vehicle driver's licence and a first aid certificate.

Secondary education

No specific secondary education is required for this job, but NCEA Level 2 English, maths, languages, history and geography are useful.

Personal requirements

Library assistants need to:

  • be friendly, helpful and patient, with excellent oral and written communication skills
  • be able to relate well to a wide range of people
  • have basic research skills
  • have numeracy and money-handling skills
  • be accurate and efficient
  • be able to work well independently and as part of a team.

Useful experience

Useful experience for library assistants includes:

  • voluntary work in a library
  • customer service jobs such as work in restaurants, hotels or shops
  • work in a bookshop or newsagent's
  • teaching
  • office work.

Find out more about training

Library and Information Association of NZ Aotearoa (LIANZA)
(04) 473 5834 - admin@lianza.org.nz - www.lianza.org.nz/
Te Ropu Whakahau
trw@trw.org.nz - www.trw.org.nz/
Check out related courses

What are the chances of getting a job?

Competition for library assistant jobs is high because there are few new positions created and many people are looking for work in this area. However, many library assistants stay in the job for only a short time before moving on.

You can increase your job chances by showing an interest in gaining a relevant tertiary qualification. 

Sources

  • Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA), 'Public Libraries of New Zealand: A Strategic Framework, 2006 to 2016', November 2016, (www.lianza.org.nz).
  • Matthew, J, executive director, LIANZA, Careers New Zealand interview, September 2016.
  • Statistics New Zealand, ‘Census of Population and Dwellings’, 2014 (www.stats.govt.nz).

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)

Progression and specialisations

Library assistants can gain experience as volunteers, shelvers or part-time library assistants before moving into full-time roles. They may work with the public as lending assistants or behind the scenes doing purchasing, copy cataloguing or processing materials.

After two or three years' experience, library assistants may become senior library assistants and take on additional projects or responsibilities such as dealing with external suppliers or customer requests. Library assistants may also complete further study to become librarians.

Georgina Fell taking a book down from a shelf

Library assistant Georgina Fell looking for a book

Last updated 26 March 2019