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What Does a Library Technician Do?

Some library technicians work at the circulation desk, helping patrons check out books, D.
Library technicians are responsible for assigning call numbers to books.
Library technicians may help students to use computer databases.
Technicians are responsible for pulling books from the library rotation that need repairing or that must be eliminated from the collection.
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  • Written By: Judith Smith Sullivan
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 01 October 2014
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A library technician works in a library preparing materials like books, magazines, newspapers, electronic resources, and other types of media for circulation. They are also responsible for the condition of items and for repairing damage to them. Library technicians are typically unskilled workers who are under the supervisor of a senior technician or other librarian.

Technicians are typically trained by a supervisor. Every library has its own procedures and expectations. Although a technician may have experience working with the same types of materials, it is unlikely that the job of a library technician will be exactly the same at a different library. For instance, some libraries receive media that is pre-labeled with a call number and security tags. In this case, the library technician might spend most of his or her time entering the information into the library catalog and marking the media with the library's identification stamp.

Other libraries do not use pre-labeled materials. Library technicians attach a call number after it has been assigned to the items by the cataloging librarian. They also add protective covers, apply security strips, and mark the item with the library's identification stamp. After this is completed, the item is entered into the library catalog and delivered to the workers who shelve the items.

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Technicians are also commonly required to "pull" items. Pulling refers to retrieving items from the library stacks for elimination, repair, or binding. Elimination of a product occurs when the library needs the space for other items which are more popular or in better condition. Eliminated items are often sold to generate additional income for the library.

Like all things, library media suffers general wear and tear. Protective covers may prolong the life of an item, but sooner or later, almost every item will need some type of repair. Library technicians typically fix minor damage, like tears. An experience technician can repair entire sections of books, even to the point of rebinding an item.

Large-scale binding is usually done by an outside company. Library technicians are responsible for preparing the items for binding by updating the item's record on the catalog to reflect its status, preparing the items for shipment, and replacing the items in the stacks when they return.

In small libraries, which only employee one or two full time librarians, a library technician may perform a greater variety of duties. The library technician might work at the service desk, checking out items for patrons, or lead programs like story time and computer classes. In these cases, the technician is more commonly called a library assistant.

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