Library Technologist Careers: Job Description & Salary Information

About this article
A library technologist's average salary is slightly over $33,000. Is the job worth the training requirements? See real job descriptions and get the truth about career prospects to find out if becoming a library technologist is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Career as a Library Technologist

Sometimes known as library technicians, library technologists perform some of the same tasks as librarians. You should be aware of the pros and cons of working as a library technologist before you invest your time and effort in training for this career.

PROS of a Library Technologist Career
Flexible hours with many part-time opportunities*
Smaller libraries may not require postsecondary education*
Technologists are increasingly hired in place of librarians*
Employment at public and government libraries should be strong (54% of all technologists worked for local government as of 2012)*

CONS of a Library Technologist Career
Slow expected job growth (eight percent from 2012-2022)*
Heavy lifting, standing and stooping are often required*
May require additional education to advance in this career*
Low pay (mean yearly wage was about $33,000 as of May 2014)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Career Info

Job Duties

Library technologists usually perform clerical tasks in a library, while librarians perform administrative and managerial tasks, such as hiring staff, purchasing materials and developing library programs. However, in many areas, such as helping patrons, conducting research and classifying library materials, the duties of library techs and librarians overlap. Typically, technologist job duties include shelving books, retrieving library items and checking patron materials in and out of the library's content management system. You also might perform some work on a computer system, such as cataloging books, creating bibliographic records or locating books in other library systems.

Assisting patrons is often a vital part of this job; you might help them find books or sign up for library cards or show them how to perform Internet research or use audio/visual equipment. The work may be physically demanding at times; for example, you might be required to carry books up ladders, walk long distances, move stacks of books or bend down to shelve materials. Although this is usually an indoor occupation, some light traveling may be required if the library operates a bookmobile or book delivery system.

Salary Info

Salaries in this career typically depend on the library system that you're employed at; local libraries often depend on public funding, and school libraries can suffer from budget cuts, so federal government and scientific research libraries typically offer higher pay. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mean salary for library technologists at federal libraries as of May 2014 was almost $49,000, while library techs at scientific research libraries earned approximately $55,000 (www.bls.gov). Elementary and secondary school library technicians made a lower yearly average of $31,000 per year, while technicians at libraries operated by local governments earned about $32,000.

Career Outlook

Overall, job growth in this field was expected to be below average, increasing only eight percent from 2012-2022. Some libraries may be adversely affected by budget cuts, according to the BLS. If you have postsecondary training in an IT area, such as Web technology or computer library systems, you probably have a better chance at landing a job, since most libraries are becoming increasingly computerized, according to the most recent data available from the BLS.

Career Requirements

Educational requirements can vary, but many employers require library technologists to have some postsecondary training. According to the BLS, most employers prefer a certificate or associate's degree in library technology. You can find these programs at a number of community colleges. If you plan on working at a school library, you may be required to obtain the same state licensing or certification as a teacher assistant.

Useful Skills

Education programs in this field are typically computer-heavy, with classes in database management, business applications, Web technologies and Internet research. According to the American Library Association (ALA), retail and office skills can also come in handy when working at a library (www.ala.org). Other helpful skills can include:

  • Customer service experience
  • Communication skills
  • Familiarity with various office machines
  • Money-handling experience

Job Postings from Real Employers

Employers of library technologists can include public libraries, universities, medical libraries, law libraries and K-12 schools. Many employers look for candidates with past job experience and people skills. Below are some more specific requirements from job ads posted in February 2012.

  • A university in Florida was looking for a library technician with data entry and word processing skills, excellent interpersonal abilities and knowledge of a foreign language. Applicants also needed three years of experience or postsecondary education.
  • A federal agency in Washington, D.C., sought library technologists with experience working directly with the public. This employer gave preference to applicants with a bachelor's degree and requested prior work experience in library services.
  • An academic library in Pennsylvania was seeking a technologist with great communication skills and knowledge of audio/visual equipment. Candidates needed at least a high school education, and past academic library experience was preferred.

How to Stand Out

Obtaining an associate's or bachelor's degree in library technology can help you stand out from the crowd in this profession. Previous experience working in a library, even as a student worker, can also prove beneficial, especially at libraries that provide on-the-job training. Also, solid oral and written skills are often sought by employers. Gaining practice with the operation of audio/visual equipment and microfilm readers can also help set you apart in this field.

Technology Skills

Computerized library management systems are becoming the norm in this sector, so technical skills can be a plus when seeking a library technologist position. Knowledge of Internet research, office applications and basic data entry are repeatedly seen in job postings for this field. Other computer-related skills sought by employers include:

  • Ability to locate materials in Internet library databases
  • Knowledge of bibliographic network systems
  • Ability to enter and edit bibliographic information in library management systems
  • Ability to revise computerized classification records

Alternative Career Paths

Library technology training can prepare you for various career paths outside of a traditional library setting. You can enter other fields that rely heavily on knowledge of information technology, business software programs, research and customer service.

Museum or Archives Technician

Museums and archives use many of the same information management systems and databases found in libraries. To become a museum tech, you might need a bachelor's degree in library science, history or art. Employment in this field was expected to grow at a slower-than-average pace of only seven percent between 2010 and 2020. According to the BLS, the average salary for techs in this area was about $42,000 as of May 2011.

Administrative Assistant

Organizational and computer skills, as well as experience using office machines, are often key traits needed to obtain a position as an administrative assistant. Training can be similar to that of a library tech, although you may need additional training if you plan to work in the legal or medical fields. Employment growth in this field was projected to increase at an average rate of 12% between 2010 and 2020. The average salary for executive administrative assistants was about $48,000 as of May 2011, according to BLS data.

Data Entry Specialist

Database management is one of the main skills you must acquire to work as a library technologist, and data entry specialists must operate a variety of software systems and office equipment similar to those found in a library. As of May 2011, specialists in this field earned an average salary of about $29,000, according to the BLS.

Librarian

If you're interested in staying in the library field, you could obtain a master's degree and advance to a position as a librarian. Requirements in this career often include graduation from an ALA-approved library science program, as well as state certification or licensing if you plan on working at a school or public library. Employment growth in this field was projected to be around seven percent from 2010-2020, and the average salary for librarians was approximately $57,000 as of May 2011, according to the BLS.

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