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.
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.