Apprentice library assistants assist librarians in managing and operating a library. Their primary duties include assisting customers in finding books, checking books in and out at the front desk, and shelving books according to classification.
Throughout your apprenticeship, you may help:
You could work on a customer service desk to:
- help users access print and online resources
- organise IT access and answer library users’ queries
- check materials in and out
- deal with counter, phone and email enquiries
You may also:
- catalogue new resources
- shelve returned items and arrange repair of damaged materials
- promote collections or new library resources
- make sure copyright licence agreements are followed
- maintain databases and records
- help with events and activities like storytelling or author sessions
- Salaries for apprentices are typically around £17,000 to £22,000.
- Assistant librarian salaries range from £25,000 to £29,000, with an average salary of £27,000.
You’ll typically work a 34 to 36 hours per week and may be expected to do some evening and weekend work.
Part-time work and job share opportunities may be available.
You could work at a library, at a school, at a college or at a university.
Qualifications you can achieve as an apprentice library assistant include:
- Level 3 Library, Information and Archive Services Assistant – Entry requirements for this level include 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship.
This typically takes 18 months to complete as a mix of workplace learning and off-the-job study.
On a library assistant apprenticeship, you’ll learn:
- administration skills
- the ability to work well with others
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- customer service skills
- the ability to work on your own
- knowledge of English language
- to be flexible and open to change
- sensitivity and understanding
- to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently.
Local governments often, but not always, maintain public libraries, which provide various services. Online awareness, homework clubs, and reading groups are examples of schemes.
Many bigger cities have massive central libraries with extensive lending stocks, speciality reference collections, rare and expensive artefacts, and maybe music collections, as well as sub-branch libraries in neighbouring towns and counties.
In towns and villages, smaller libraries are more frequent. The kind of employment available will be primarily affected by the library’s community participation. Many branches function as community centres, while others house citizen advice bureaus, volunteer bureaus, and other community information services.
Some libraries include information about local festivals, writing and literary events, and author gatherings. Some municipalities also have prison libraries and mobile libraries.
Recent budget cuts have limited the number of paid, full-time posts available in public libraries, particularly in villages and small towns. As a consequence, local government salaries and job opportunities have decreased significantly.
With experience and qualifications, you could become a librarian.
Three levels of professional registration are available with CILIP:
- Certification (ACLIP)
- Chartership (MCLIP)
- Fellowship (FCLIP).
You must engage in various continuing professional development (CPD) activities that reflect your performance, organisational performance, and awareness of the greater library and information service profession for all three levels. In addition, you must provide a 1,000-word assessment statement and supporting documents. It would help if you had a mentor to assist you with the registration procedure.
CPD activities include reviewing and contributing to professional literature, engaging in email discussion lists, networking, attending relevant conferences and seminars, and participating in CILIP’s regional member networks and special interest groups.
Persistence and effort are essential since competition for employment at all levels is challenging. You may need to change jobs to get experience in more than one kind of work or circumstance, and progress may require a change of organisation or location. Public libraries may be forced to lay off employees occasionally due to financial constraints.
Large libraries sometimes have a separate promotion structure for management jobs responsible for a specific subject, service, or location. Such positions often need several years of professional expertise. For example, managers may be in charge of some regions of library service, such as minority or children’s services, or they may be in charge of a whole department, such as acquisitions.
Promotion and development opportunities are limited at small libraries unless you shift to other libraries, regions, or authorities. Senior posts are in short supply and very competitive.
Working in information management or a related profession helps you develop your career. Relevant contexts include local or central government, legal courts, healthcare, professional practices, academic libraries, schools, and non-profit or commercial organisations.