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OSP Occupational Profile

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NOC Code: NOC Code: 1451 Occupation: Library assistants and clerks
Occupation Description: Occupation Description:
Library assistants and clerks issue and receive library materials, sort and shelve books and provide general library information to users. They also perform clerical functions. Library clerks are employed by libraries or other establishments with library services. Library assistants and clerks issue and receive library materials, sort and shelve books and provide general library information to users. They also perform clerical functions. Library clerks are employed by libraries or other establishments with library services.

  • Click on any of the Essential Skills to view sample workplace tasks for this occupation.
  • Scroll down the page to get information on career planning, education and training, and employment and volunteer opportunities.

Table will display the Skill Level for the Noc specified
Essential Skills Essential Skills Levels
Reading Reading 1 2 3
Writing Writing 1 2
Document Use Document Use 1 2
Digital Technology Digital Technology 1 2
Oral Communication Oral Communication 1 2 3
Money Math Money Math 1 2
Scheduling or Budgeting and Accounting Scheduling or Budgeting and Accounting 1
Measurement and Calculation Measurement and Calculation 1
Data Analysis Data Analysis 1 2
Numerical Estimation Numerical Estimation 1
Job Task Planning and Organizing Job Task Planning and Organizing 1 2
Decision Making Decision Making 1 2
Problem Solving Problem Solving 1 2
Finding Information Finding Information 1 2
Critical Thinking Critical Thinking 1 2

  • The skill levels represented in the above chart illustrate the full range of sample tasks performed by experienced workers and not individuals preparing for or entering this occupation for the first time.
  • Note that some occupational profiles do not include all Numeracy and Thinking Essential Skills.

If you would like to print a copy of the chart and sample tasks, click on the "Print Occupational Profile" button at the top of the page.

  • Read suggestion forms filled out by patrons to improve library services. (1)
  • Read minutes of staff meetings. (1)
  • Read memos, information bulletins and email about special events or new procedures at the library. (1)
  • Read parts of books aloud to visually impaired patrons to help them decide if it is a book or audio book that interests them. (2)
  • Read newsletters, brochures and bulletins from suppliers to stay abreast of new products, plans and events relevant to users and staff. For example, library assistants in public libraries may read about acquisitions for media collections in monthly newsletters. They skim bulletins from publishers to learn about books to be released. (2)
  • Read books, magazines and journals to keep current on library holdings, to organize the information into consumer files and direct patrons to the material they want. This helps to keep current on the status of periodicals, such as title and publication date changes. (3)
  • Scan indexes and reference books to help patrons locate information. (3)
  • Refer to procedure and instruction manuals and computer software manuals to perform rare or complex functions. (3)
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  • Write reminder notes and lists of tasks to be done. (1)
  • Write patrons' names on items being held for them or on waiting lists for particular books. (1)
  • Write notes, entries in a daybook or email messages to inform other staff of problems, suggestions, notable events or compliments. (1)
  • Help patrons complete book request forms. (1)
  • Write new-member profiles and enter them into the computer system. (1)
  • Write memos to supervisors, requesting vacation time or training. (2)
  • Write memos or email to other library branches about loans, requests and returns. (2)
  • Prepare form letters to request that overdue books be returned. (2)
  • Write procedures to be followed by other staff in your absence. (2)
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Document Use
  • Read book locator labels and book titles to search for or shelve books and when updating the database. (1)
  • Read mailbag labels to identify the proper bag to put books into for each branch. (1)
  • Locate data on labels. For example, scan book spine labels to identify alphanumeric codes, such as the Library of Congress or Dewey Decimal code, necessary for their proper placement on shelves or racks. Scan labels on shelves, racks, drawers and other storage devices to identify the ranges of codes they contain. (1)
  • Fill out library book pocket cards, interlibrary loan forms, vacation request forms and order forms. (2)
  • Locate data in forms. For example, library assistants locate data such as birthdates and addresses in application forms for new library cards. They identify data such as subjects, dates, names of publications and authors in information request forms. They search several parts of catalogue records to locate data such as secondary subject headings and descriptions of the scope of individual documents in archival collections. (2)
  • Reference sketches of computer screens in computer manuals when learning how to use new software. (2)
  • Read hold alert reports and patron trap charts which inform workers of books being held for patrons or patrons whose privileges have been suspended because of unpaid fines. (2)
  • Read statistical tables showing the number of transactions performed in a month. (2)
  • Consult mail rate charts to mail parcels and book price lists to buy new books. (2)
  • Read work schedules to see when to work and what work to do. (2)
  • Reference diagrams on photocopiers to learn how to operate them. (2)
  • Read client cards or files in the database to tell clients about books that need to be returned, fines due and whether they can borrow more books. (2)
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Digital Technology
  • Use word processing. For example, enter information on to order forms. (2)
  • Use a database. For example, search for information using national and international sources. (2)
  • Use bookkeeping, billing and accounting software. For example, calculate overdue fines and for accounting. (2)
  • Use communications software. For example, send and receive email. (2)
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Oral Communication
  • Discuss loan requests, possible sources of information and the location of specific materials with other staff. (1)
  • Greet and talk to patrons to answer questions about the library and help patrons find materials. (1)
  • Interact by telephone with staff in branch libraries and other library systems to request, search for, or take requests for books. (1)
  • Co-ordinate tasks with other staff. (1)
  • Contact publishers about book orders that have not been received. (1)
  • Talk to patrons to deal with complaints. (2)
  • Participate in regular staff meetings and listen to announcements about new procedures. (2)
  • Discuss work schedule with co-workers and procedures, such as how to get work done more efficiently and accurately. (2)
  • Discuss work schedules, instructions, policies and procedures with the supervisor. (2)
  • Instruct patrons on how to use the microfiche, microform catalogues or the photocopying machine and on how to fill in request forms. (2)
  • Interact with children to conduct library tours or story-hour readings. (3)
  • Facilitate and lead library and archive tours and group activities. Technicians in larger libraries and archives may lead orientation tours to give users overviews of resource materials available. (3)
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Money Math
  • Collect payments for photocopy fees and fines for overdue materials and make change. (Library Technicians and Assistants) (1)
  • Receive payment for fines and make change. Also handle money from the photocopier and from the sale of old books. At the end of the day, subtract the float and complete a balance sheet. (1)
  • Calculate fines on overdue materials using the appropriate daily charge. The daily rate may differ for books, audiovisual materials or interlibrary loans. (2)
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Scheduling or Budgeting and Accounting
  • Write debit and credit notes, recording lost books charged to a branch library and reversing the recording process if the books are found. (1)
  • Enter expenditures, such as book purchases, in a budget monitoring system categorizing each expenditure appropriately. (1)
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Measurement and Calculation
  • Measure the size of new books. (1)
  • Weigh parcels and measure their dimensions to calculate the amount of postage required, using postal rate charts. (1)
  • Count the number of books to be shelved and the number of loan requests. (1)
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Data Analysis
  • Compare the number of books checked out over a period of time to identify trends, recording related information on a form forwarded to head office. (1)
  • Manage inventories of library and archival materials. For example, compare book quantities in annual book inventories to records to determine book losses. (Library Technicians and Assistants) (2)
  • Compile statistics on how many transactions of particular types occurred in a period of time and calculate the per cent change in library use, compared to previous months or years. (2)
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Numerical Estimation
  • Estimate how long it will take to complete a series of tasks or how much time is spent on various tasks, such as how long it takes to enter a stack of requests. (1)
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Job Task Planning and Organizing
  • Some library assistants and clerks have little flexibility in their job tasks. They receive daily schedules and work assignments from their supervisor and perform a set routine of tasks. (1)
  • Other library assistants and clerks organize their own work, setting priorities for several tasks and ordering their tasks for greater efficiency. The order and pace at which tasks are done, however, is determined by the number of patrons that day and the nature of their requests. (2)
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Decision Making
  • Decide whether to find an item for patrons or to explain how they can find it themselves. (1)
  • Decide to apply the organization's rules with flexibility. For example, ignore noisy users rather than ask them to leave, considering the likelihood they will be leaving shortly. Allow users to maintain borrowing privileges when their accumulated fines only slightly exceed cut-off points for loss of privileges. In some cases, may accept plausible explanations about missing books from users rather than insisting on replacement costs. (Library Technicians and Assistants) (1)
  • Decide whether to do reference searches for the patron or refer patrons to the reference department. (1)
  • Decide which tasks are most urgent, such as whether to sort or shelve books. (1)
  • Decide whether to hold items, when the patron who requested them is unable to pick them up. (1)
  • Choose to discard and repair books. Consider the condition and popularity of book titles and the availability of shelf space. When books are damaged but sufficiently popular to retain compare the costs of repairing and replacing them. (Library Technicians and Assistants) (2)
  • Decide when to pass problems or complaints to a supervisor. (2)
  • Decide if loan requests, such as an extended loan, are legitimate and practical. You may refuse the request if it is not. (2)
  • Decide when to charge patrons for damaged items. (2)
  • Decide whether to let a patron take out a book which is not normally allowed out of the library. (2)
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Problem Solving
  • Library books have been returned. Determine how to shelve the books efficiently by grouping them according to floor and section. (1)
  • Computers, microform machines or photocopiers have broken down. Determine how to repair the machine or call a technician. (2)
  • A patron has a question or a request for information. Determine how to help the patron by directing him/her to the most likely sources and the most relevant materials. (2)
  • A library patron claims that overdue items have already been returned. Resolve the situation by determining whether to fill out a 'claims returned' form or whether to call in a supervisor. Patrons may become angry or hostile and the situation must be dealt with in a sensitive manner. (2)
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Finding Information
  • Request information about the status of ordered materials from the supplier or publisher. (1)
  • Obtain information on interlibrary loans from other libraries. (1)
  • Find out the location and availability of specific materials requested, often using electronic databases. (1)
  • Respond to patrons' requests for information or references by looking for likely sources of information or for the most relevant books and materials to recommend to the patron. This is done by using own knowledge of the material in the library, consulting electronic databases and asking co-workers for suggestions. (2)
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Critical Thinking
  • Assess the relevance and quality of materials for different users. Take into consideration users' requests, preferences and capacities as well as recommendations from reliable sources such as professional publications. For example, university and college library assistants evaluate the relevance of journal articles to answer students' research requests. They consider matches on keywords, publication dates and the reputation of source publishers. (2)
  • Evaluate the physical condition of library and archival materials. Examine covers, bindings and book spines to ensure pages will hold. Inspect damages such as water marks, mould spots, tears and missing pages. Evaluate the extent of damage in order to recommend repairs. (2)
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