Cool Job of the Week: Library Technician

Similar to a librarian – but different! – Library Technicians are some of the people that help make libraries work for their patrons.

I recently had a chance to speak with Saraline Grenier, Library Technician for the Bibliothèque publique de Pointe-Claire (that’s the Pointe-Claire Public Library, which is located in Québec – hence the français), about her job. Here’s what she had to say!

Can you give us a brief explanation of your job?

I order English books for adults and when they come in, I get to look at them! I get to look at them because I have to check if any pages are missing or printed in the wrong order and I have to make sure that the books don’t have any damage. I also catalogue French non-fiction books for adults and kids, and non-fiction DVDs. When I catalogue something, I have to look at it to see what it’s about so I can give it a Dewey number and subject headings. I also add other information so that people will know what type of item it is when they look at the record in our catalogue and information that will help people find the record in the first place.

What made you choose this field?

Like many people in this field, I wanted to work in a library because I love books.

How long have you been working in this field?

About four years. I did a work placement while I was in school and came back to work after I graduated.

Did you need to obtain any specific degree to get this job?

Yes, I obtained a DEC in Information and Library services.

Photo credit: Jerry Bunkers, “Black woman in law library”

Describe a typical workday.

I try not to do the same task all day, and since I do a couple of different things, this is easy to do. Maybe one day I’ll order books in the morning and catalogue in the afternoon. On another day I might catalogue all day, but I’ll do a pile of adults’ books and then a pile of children’s books.

What do you like most about your job?

I like cataloging the cookbooks and the travel guides. I also really like cataloging DVDs because DVDs have a lot of genre subject headings and I looooove genre subject headings.

What do you like least about your job?

I see about a hundred books a week that I want to read and I don’t have time to read a hundred books a week.

What kinds of personal qualities are most valuable in your position?

You need the ability to notice small details.

Any advice for kids who want to become library technicians?

Stay in school and don’t do drugs.

Is there anything else you’d like to mention, that I haven’t asked you about?

A lot of people think that I mean “librarian” when I say that I’m a library technician, but there are some differences. Librarians have Masters’ degrees and interact with the public more. They make the decisions, such as what programming will be offered and which books to buy. Library technicians do more behind-the-scenes stuff and aren’t often seen by patrons. They order the books, DVDs, etc. that the librarians have selected and catalogue them. Afterwards these items go to the material preparation staff to be covered, stickered, etc. They then go out to the circulation desk where the circulation desk will put them away, call patrons who have holds on them, etc. The circulation staff are usually the last ones at the library to see the books before they go missing.

To learn more about becoming a Library Technician in the U.S., check out the Occupational Outlook Handbook’s entry on Library Technicians & Assistants.

Long-lasting, Luscious, Loquacious Jobs

L is for… Librarian!

Librarians are the people who are in charge of the library, and they are awesome. They check your books in and out (unless you have a fancy self-serve system, like many libraries nowadays do), order new books and other materials for their patrons to check out (including CDs and DVDs, and sometimes even laptops, e-readers and power tools, too!), help folks find material in the library and use library equipment like computers and printers (even 3D printers!), schedule events, and otherwise keep the library humming along.

Some people wonder whether librarians and libraries are still relevant in a world where everyone can look up information, instantly, on their cell phones. But the answer is: OF COURSE! You see, librarians are not just people who fetch books, they’re also individual sources of information. Librarians are trained in Library Science, which means they are well-versed in a surprising number of skills involved in searching and sorting data – which becomes ever more important as much of our data goes digital. They’re also tech savvy, which means they can help you with many common computer questions (although they may still have to point you in the direction of some paid experts if your problem is a broken hard drive or cell phone).

Librarians help patrons find the materials they’re looking for, whether it’s in their own library or not. They can teach you the value of Inter-Library Loans (ILL), as well as how to reserve material on your own.

Librarians are also the people that help organize lots of useful, educational and interesting community events. Some of these events may include musical performances, readings, presentations, and workshops. These events are usually free or very low-cost, which means that people of all income levels are welcome to attend. That’s another important part of the job: Libraries Are For Everyone.

Libraries Are For Everyone (image credit: Hafuboti by Rebecca McCorkindale)

Are librarians still relevant? Absolutely! Without librarians and libraries I don’t know where I would be today. After all, libraries are a sanctuary for the nerdy and bookish. Where else do you think we all hang out?

Further Reading

Related Films

Other Lovely Jobs That Start With L

  • Laboratory Assistant
  • Landscaper
  • Lawyer
  • Librettist
  • Lifeguard
  • Limbo Dancer
  • Livestock Rancher
  • Lobbyist
  • Locksmith
  • Lyricist

Want to learn about even more cool jobs?

Pre-order the book, World’s Coolest Jobs, a collection of all the coolest jobs you never knew existed. On sale September 1, 2017.