Library Assistant

Library assistants perform routine tasks to free librarians from other duties.

Assistants check books in and out, answer routine questions and sort and shelve library materials. They may repair damaged books and keep files of special materials such as career information or newspapers up-to-date. In addition, they aid in the purchasing and cataloguing of library materials.

They operate audio-visual equipment when required and help users find reference materials, maintain loan records and send out overdue notices. In addition, they may work on special projects and assist in organising and arranging book exhibitions.

Library assistants work indoors in all types of libraries. They may work at the front desk, between bookshelves or in special rooks or offices such as repair or audiovisual storage areas and travelling library vehicles.

Personal Requirements

  • want to help people
  • enjoy working with others
  • enjoy routine work
  • accurate, neat and well organised
  • fond of books and like to read

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

  • National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course
  • National Senior Certificate meeting diploma requirements for a diploma course
Each institution has its own entry requirements.

What to Study

Degree: Degree courses, for example BBibl or Library and Information Science - UNISA, UWC, UV, UZ, Information Science - US, UP, Information Studies - UKZN, Information Systems - RU, UFH, UCT, UZ.

Diploma: N.Dip.: Library and Information Studies- DUT, TUT. Course takes 3 years.

Postgraduate: Information Science Honours, Masters and doctorate can be followed at UNISA and UJ

It is expected that students at both universities and universities of technology will gain practical experience in a library for a specified period. Practical training takes place on the job under the guidance of a trained librarian.

Persons with a lower diploma in librarianship may also be appointed as library assistants. This is a two-year undergraduate diploma course offered by some universities. A National Senior Certificate (or equivalent) with two official languages as subjects is the minimum qualification for appointment as a library assistant. Some libraries take on matriculants as library assistants.

The library services of the Department of National Education also conduct annual orientation courses for beginners. As further entry requirements vary from one university to another, prospective students are advised to consult the yearbook of the university of their choice.


  • public libraries
  • university, university of technology and colleges
  • government departments
  • provincial administrations
  • private organisations
  • research bodies, such as HSRC and CSIR
  • special libraries such as those in hospitals, private industry and correctional institutions

Further Information

Ground Floor, Building B
Westend Office Park
254 Hall Street
Die Hoewes, Centurion
0157, South Africa
Tel: (012) 643-9500

Library and Information Association of South Africa
228 Johannes Ramokhoase Street (Previously Proes Street)
Tel: (012) 328-2010

Getting Started

  • volunteer for vacation or part-time work at a local library
  • experience in information management or working in a government department may be helpful, and any work that involves dealing with people such as customer service or teaching
  • speak to library assistants about this career

Programmes by Study Institutions

Related Occupations

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