How to become a Library Assistant in South Africa

Materials that You will be Working with

  • Books
  • Newspapers
  • Journals
  • Library cards
  • Files
  • Forms
  • Audiovisual equipment
  • Library cataloging systems
  • Computers
  • Printers
  • Cameras
  • Projectors
  • Staplers
  • Calculators
  • Internet

Main Job of a Library Assistant

The main job of a library assistant is to assist the librarian to carry out duties at any library. As a library assistant you can work at a public or school library or academic library or even at a special library.Check out this link to see the different types of libraries and their roles in the community.As a Library assistant your job will be as follows :

  • Check books in and out .
  • Answer routine questions including giving people directions to a place where they can get a proof of residence or where they can pay services if you work at a municipal library.
  • Answering telephone calls.

  • Helping students with research materials and even using the internet to search for questions to assignment answers.
  • You should also assist with repairing damaged books and magazines and documents.
  • Use the library printer to make copies , fax , scan and even email documents on behalf of users and staff.

  • Put up information posters on the wall of the the library which includes simple library rules and directions to a particular section of the library, for example, a computer room or a study room.
  • Shelving books according to the Dewey Decimal Classification System or any other popular Cataloging System.Do not worry so much about the system too much you can learn it as it is very simple to learn.
  • Cleaning shelves and just keeping your library clean is also important in case you do not have cleaning staff.This is also important because in other municipalities or government departments the staff clean only on certain days and you will need to do some of this work as and when needs be.

  • Planning celebrations and creating displays. These are promotional events or days you will need to take note of and celebrate as part of library promotion . These days are available on the Library and Information Association of South Africa ,LIASA as it is popularly known. Check out their Calendar page for this information.Click here to visit the LIASA page. IMPORTANT ! You might want to become a member of LIASA as a part of self development and to access special offers like bursaries and scholarships in the event that you want to become a librarian or get promotion at work .Please use them.

  • Using a Library System to Process and Catalog books and also store and retrieve user information for circulation of books.Circulation means giving books to library users as well as returning them back to the library from the users concerned.Please Note that Library Systems can also track information like due dates and they can also do a lot of other automated work depending on the characteristics given to each unique Library system.

Personality Traits You need

  • Neat and well organised
  • Enjoy helping people
  • Enjoy working with others
  • Enjoy routine work
  • Love reading and books
  • Love telling others about books you enjoyed

Career Preparations

Volunteer at Companies and Organisations in your area. You can choose from Companies or Organisations with Libraries or Book corners such as Colleges,Magistrate Courts, Universities, Information centers, Schools and Churches. You should learn to use computers and printers comfortably. Also lean any other tools that can find in your space of work. Participation in activities that will teach You to feel at ease with people could also help.

School Subjects You need

Any Senior Certificate

Recommended Qualifications

Diploma or Certificate in Library and Information Science


Bachelor of Information Science

University of the Western Cape
Bachelor of Library and Information Science

University of KwaZulu-Natal
Bachelor of Library and Information Science

Durban University of Technology
National Diploma: Library and Information Studies

University of Zululand
Bachelor of Library and Information Science; Diploma: Specialised Education (School Library Science)

University of Cape Town
Bachelor of Information Systems

University of Pretoria
Bachelor of Information Science

University of Stellenbosch
Bachelor of Information Science

Tshwane University of Technology
National Diploma: Library and Information Studies

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