Library Assistant

Library assistants work as part of a team, supporting the day-to-day running of the school libraries or resource centre. School library staff manage all library resources in a school, including print, audio-visual, online and e-learning material. They help pupils and teachers to access all the materials they need to help them learn and teach.

What’s involved

School library staff manage all library resources in a school, including print, audio-visual, online and e-learning material. They help pupils and teachers to access all the materials they need to help them learn and teach. Your work could include:

  • Helping with the day-to-day running of library services
  • Dealing with enquiries from pupils and staff. These can be anything from finding reference materials for school coursework, providing information to staff on legal issues e.g. copyright, helping with research, or careers and reference materials
  • Checking materials in and out and filing or replacing returned items
  • Cataloguing new materials
  • Maintaining databases and records.
  • Arranging repair of damaged materials.

Skills and experience you will need

  • Be highly organised
  • Have good information technology skills
  • Possess good communication skills
  • Possess good customer service skills
  • A keen interest in the benefits of reading
  • The ability to work as part of a team

Entry requirements

For library assistants, it is up to schools and local authorities to decide what qualifications and experience applicants need to have, so it is important to check locally. Some may employ people without formal qualifications on the basis of skills, experience and potential alone. Others may require a qualification. Employers will often look for GCSEs at a Grade A-C or equivalent, including English. All school library staff will need excellent information and communication technology (ICT) skills.

The Level 2 Award, Support Work in Schools, is suitable for all support staff in schools and it will help you to demonstrate an understanding of how schools work; child and young person development; safeguarding the welfare of children and young people; the importance of communication with adults and children and equality, and diversity and inclusion in work with children and young people. 

Training and development

You may be able to study for a qualification, for example the Level 2 Certificate/Level 3 Diploma in Libraries, Archives and Information Services.

If you have a minimum of two year’s work experience as a library assistant, you may be able to apply for Certified Affiliate status with the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals. This can be a useful stepping stone to becoming a fully qualified librarian. After a further two years, you can then apply to go through the Chartership process, which leads to full qualification as a librarian. See the CILIP website for more details.

If you need more help speak to the person at work responsible for your career development or your Union Learning Representative.

Useful links

Find out more about the role of library assistants on the National Careers Service website

Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP)

For more information in Scotland, contact Skills Development Scotland

In Northern Ireland contact Careers Service Northern Ireland

In Wales / Cymru contact Careers Wales