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NOC Code: NOC Code: 5211 Occupation: Library and Archive Technicians and Assistants
Occupation Description: Occupation Description:
Library, archive and records management technicians and assistants assist users in accessing library or archive resources, participate in records management, assist in describing new acquisitions, participate in archive processing and storage, and conduct reference searches. They are employed by libraries, archives, records management branches and other establishments with library or archive services. Library, archive and records management technicians and assistants assist users in accessing library or archive resources, participate in records management, assist in describing new acquisitions, participate in archive processing and storage, and conduct reference searches. They are employed by libraries, archives, records management branches and other establishments with library or archive services.

  • Click on any of the Essential Skills to view sample workplace tasks for this occupation.
  • Skill levels are assigned to tasks: Level 1 tasks are the least complex and level 4 or 5 tasks (depending upon the specific skill) are the most complex. Skill levels are associated with workplace tasks and not the workers performing these tasks.
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Table will display the Skill Level for the Noc specified
Essential Skills Essential Skills Levels
Reading Text Reading Text 1 2 3 4
Writing Writing 1 2 3 4
Document Use Document Use 1 2 3
Computer Use Computer Use 1 2 3
Oral Communication Oral Communication 1 2 3
Money Math Money Math 1 2 3
Measurement and Calculation Measurement and Calculation 1
Data Analysis Data Analysis 1 2
Numerical Estimation Numerical Estimation 1 2 3
Job Task Planning and Organizing Job Task Planning and Organizing 1
Decision Making Decision Making 1 2
Problem Solving Problem Solving 1 2 3
Finding Information Finding Information 1 2 3 4
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.


Reading Text
  • Read text entries in forms and comments in logs. For example, read text entries in catalogue records of sound recordings to learn about ancillary documents. Read co-workers' notes in daily logs to learn about archival and library materials delivered during previous shifts. (1)
  • Read email from users, co-workers, colleagues and suppliers. Read questions from library and archives users about the availability of reference and archival materials. Read responses to questions posed to co-workers. (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 memos from supervisors and managers. For example, read memos from front-desk supervisors to circulation assistants and clerks about changes to documents accepted to authenticate library card applications. Skim memos from head librarians informing staff of increases in fines for overdue books. (2)
  • Read instruction manuals to learn how to operate, maintain and troubleshoot software and library equipment. For example, library assistants may read user manuals for cataloguing software in order to develop secure backup strategies for program and data files. Media library technicians may read manuals for new microfilm reader printers to learn the basic and advanced functions for viewing, scanning and printing. (3)
  • Read library and archival manuals, textbooks and policy statements to learn and verify rules and procedures. For example, read specific rules in manuals such as the Anglo American Cataloguing Rules, Standards for Archival Description and current editions of the Dewey Decimal Classification system. Read the step-by-step procedures for using on-line databases written for library users to verify their readability and logic. Read the organization's policies regulating public access to archival materials and copyright infringements to ensure proper application of the rules. (3)
  • Study library and archival materials to describe, catalogue and respond to questions about them. Read these materials to expand knowledge in fields relevant to library and archive collections. For example, documentation technicians read book jackets, prefaces and introductory chapters in monographs to determine catalogue subject headings. Medical library technicians read article abstracts when searching for journal articles to meet requests made by member physicians. Archival assistants carefully read manuscripts and historical records received from donors to determine their scope and familiarize themselves with archival holdings. Some archival materials may be difficult to read because of poor handwriting and inferior print quality as well as archaic and culturally-specific spelling and vocabulary. (4)
  • Read conference briefs and articles in trade publications such as the Feliciter and Info-documentation to maintain current knowledge of innovations and issues in the field. For example, documentation technicians may read accounts of debates concerning changes to the Canadian copyright law. Library assistants in public libraries may read articles about adapting library services to meet the needs of disadvantaged populations such as those with sight impairments. Archive technicians may read conference briefs about adaptations of archival methods to reflect technological advances in electronic information storage. (4)
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Writing
  • Write notes to co-workers and entries in logbooks. For example, write notes to inform co-workers that shared desk supplies have been relocated. Write entries in daily logs to describe incidents with library and archive users and equipment breakdowns. (1)
  • Write email to users, co-workers, colleagues and suppliers. For example, write email to users to answer requests for reference information. Write email to colleagues in other libraries and archives requesting information about the availability of specific journals, magazines and other materials. Write email to book publishers and distributors to report missing materials and to request replacements. (2)
  • Write memos to co-workers and letters to library and archive users and suppliers. For example, media library technicians write memos to inform their co-workers of repair schedules for library equipment such as computers and microfiche viewers. Archive technicians write letters to users regarding their genealogical searches. Library assistants may write letters to artists confirming their services are being retained for summer programs in public libraries. (2)
  • Write library and archival rules of conduct and procedures for the use of tools such as on-line databases for users and co-workers. For example, archival assistants may write overviews of archival practices for potential donors of archival materials. They provide instructions on methods to organize and protect documents. Assistant librarians may write instructions for conducting catalogue searches using library software. Library technicians may write procedures for conducting book inventories and putting together daily newsletters. (3)
  • Write the minutes of meetings with co-workers and colleagues. Summarize discussions using clear and concise wording to ensure a common understanding of issues, decisions and timelines. (3)
  • Write thematic guides, narrative descriptions, newsletters and brochures to describe and promote library and archival resources for clients. For example, library assistants may write book reviews for monthly newsletters. Archive technicians may write narrative descriptions of holdings, find aids and other reference tools for brochures and user guides. (4)
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Document Use
  • 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)
  • 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)
  • Enter data into lists and tables. For example, enter titles of books, authors and dates of publication into lists of books to read for users. Enter reference numbers, dates and names into indexes which serve as finding aids to archival materials. Enter quantities of materials which have been physically counted into year-end inventory tables. (2)
  • Locate data in numerous lists, tables and schedules. For example, locate materials relevant to document searches in lists of catalogued materials. Locate specific book volumes on lists of missing books. Locate mail rates for specific weights of parcels in rate tables and circulation statistics for specific books in tables when 'book weeding'. Locate arrival dates for transfers of archival and library materials on delivery schedules. (2)
  • Complete various forms such as interlibrary loan forms, book acquisition forms, deeds of gift and catalogue records. For example, library technicians may enter dates, request numbers, users' names and library card numbers, names of borrowing libraries and resource citation information into interlibrary loan forms. They may also enter data such as titles, authors, unit prices and shipping fees into book acquisition forms. Archive assistants may enter information about donations and donors into deeds of gift forms to document the acquisition of archival materials. Documentation technicians locate data in other documents to describe the processing, provenance, sizes, media and subject classifications in archive catalogue records. (3)
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Computer Use
  • Use computer and software applications. For example, use Acrobat to create portable file formats for documents. (2)
  • Use integrated databases such as Voyager, Horizon Digital Library and MIKAN to perform various library and archive functions such as viewing users' records, cataloguing new acquisitions and looking up circulation statistics. Produce reports such as lists of records by catalogue code and by collection. (3)
  • Use word processing to write, edit and format text for memos and letters using word processing programs such as Word. Write and format newsletters and brochures for users. Insert tables, photographs and clip art and create hyperlinks to external documents. (3)
  • Use Internet browser programs such as Internet Explorer to access the Internet. Employ search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Clusty to locate information needed by library and archive users. (3)
  • Use communication software to exchange email and attachments with co-workers, colleagues and library and archive users using email programs such as Outlook. Maintain distribution lists for particular groups of users. (3)
  • Use spreadsheet programs such as Excel to create lists and finding aids and to capture and display financial data. Maintain spreadsheets to record petty cash disbursements and reimbursements. (3)
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Oral Communication
  • Talk to colleagues and suppliers to order books and journals and enquire about their availability. For example, ask colleagues about the availability of specific books in their collections for interlibrary loans. Speak to book distributors to obtain dates for book deliveries and follow up on back orders. (Library Technicians and Assistants) (1)
  • Archive Technicians and Assistants. (1)
  • Speak to co-workers and supervising librarians and archivists about schedules, tasks and shared work tools. Request help from co-workers during research, cataloguing and archiving activities and when operating and maintaining equipment. Ask supervisors for second opinions, for example on evaluations of the quality of archival materials. Request help, as necessary, with tasks such as managing difficult and disruptive users. (2)
  • Interact with donors and potential donors of archival materials. For example, ask potential donors questions to ascertain the value of materials offered to the organization. Request permission to discard some materials and modify access to others. Explain rules concerning schedules for the transfer of official documents such as court records to archives custody. (Archive Technicians and Assistants) (2)
  • Assign tasks and give directions to interns, summer students and other helpers. (2)
  • Facilitate and lead library and archive tours and group activities. For example, university and college library assistants meet with groups of students to explain the use of catalogues and on-line databases. Library aides in school and public libraries may present book talks and facilitate storytelling sessions. Technicians in larger libraries and archives may lead orientation tours to give users overviews of resource materials available. (3)
  • Provide library and archive users with assistance, directions and suggestions. For example, help users find materials and demonstrate search techniques for library catalogues and other electronic databases. Make suggestions for books, articles and search methods once users' needs are ascertained. Explain the use of equipment such as film projectors, microfilm viewers and checkout scanners. Explain rules and procedures for matters such as membership, fines, interlibrary loans, copyright rules and access to restricted materials. (3)
  • Discuss the technical aspects of archival and library sciences with co-workers, supervising librarians and archivists and colleagues. Meet with co-workers and supervisors to discuss improvements to methods and solutions to work problems, brainstorm programming ideas and debate changes to services. Participate in discussions with colleagues in conference workshops, plenary sessions and committee meetings. For example, discuss issues pertaining to the field such as the impact of computer networking and the integrated management of information. (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)
  • Calculate claim amounts for acquisition trips and travel to conferences. To calculate total claims, multiply distances travelled in personal vehicles by per kilometre rates and add amounts for meals, hotels and incidentals. (2)
  • Calculate purchase order amounts for books and other materials. Calculate total amounts for goods and apply discounts and federal and provincial sales taxes. Convert costs in foreign currencies to Canadian dollars. (3)
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Measurement and Calculation
  • Measure materials to determine dimensions for cataloguing, expedition, storage and repair. For example, measure books, photographs and maps with tape measures and rulers to determine dimensions for descriptions in catalogue records. Weigh envelopes to ascertain the proper postage. Measure the sizes of equipment and shelves before reorganizing spaces. Measure book cloths and spines with rulers to complete repairs to book bindings. (1)
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Data Analysis
  • Collect data to describe operations of libraries and archives and the growth and circulation of collections. For example, count the types of questions asked at reference desks. (2)
  • 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)
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Numerical Estimation
  • Estimate sizes and distances. For example, estimate amounts of shelf space needed for collections and reference materials. (2)
  • Estimate annual changes in numbers of library and archives users and quantities of materials circulated. For example, library technicians may estimate numbers of participants in special programs for budget preparation. (3)
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Job Task Planning and Organizing
  • Library and archive technicians and assistants have limited latitude for job task planning and organization as they usually carry out specific duties such as responding to front desk queries and receiving document transfers. Library and archive technicians and assistants sometimes plan and assign tasks to interns, summer students and clerks. (1)
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Decision Making
  • 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)
  • Select new materials to purchase for library collections. Analyze current collections, budgets and the interests and needs of users. Consider acquiring materials which have received positive reviews from reliable sources. Obtain final approval from librarians and library managers as necessary. (Library Technicians and Assistants) (2)
  • Choose classification codes, subject headings and content descriptions for library and archive materials. Take into consideration applicable standards and past choices for similar cases. Consult with librarians and archivists for expert opinions on choices. In consultation with other staff, decide whether to adapt international cataloguing rules and practice. (2)
  • Archives Technicians and Assistants. (2)
  • Recommend to supervisors to accept, reject, acquire and dispose of archival materials. Consider organizational guidelines, accepted archival practices and the pertinence of specific materials to the collections. Obtain permission from the estates of original owners to discard irrelevant items as necessary. (Archives Technicians and Assistants) (2)
  • 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)
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Problem Solving
  • Encounter computer data losses, system failures and equipment breakdowns. Attempt to rectify defects and repair equipment by searching for troubleshooting methods in user manuals and recalling past experiences with similar difficulties. Request help from co-workers and technical support people. (2)
  • Find that uncooperative users disrupt operations in libraries and archives. For example, sometimes meet with refusals when asking noisy users to quieten down, attempting to collect fines and asking people to leave when the premises are closing. If results are not obtained by courteously reiterating the rules, request the aid of security guards. (2)
  • Storage space for new materials is lacking. Weed out sections of shelves and collections, retaining the more popular materials. Carry out research and discuss storage options with librarians and archivists in order to develop and implement more efficient ways of using space. (3)
  • Experience difficulties in locating materials in libraries and archives. Identify the people who last borrowed or worked with these missing materials and question them for tips about possible locations. Once the materials are found, investigate to determine whether mistakes were made classifying or shelving the materials. Develop and adopt new practices, as necessary, to prevent reoccurrences. (3)
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Finding Information
  • Search for bibliographic data and background information when cataloguing library and archive materials. Consult various parts of the materials such as front covers and first pages of books to find titles, authors, translators, publishers and dates of publication. In order to allocate classification codes and subject headings, scan book jackets, compact disc covers, prefaces, tables of contents, indexes and legends for clues to subject matter. Look up similar items in on-line catalogues and refer to dictionaries, encyclopaedias, registers and documents such as legal deposit declarations for clarifications and missing data. Consult specialists such as librarians, archivists and translators when encountering difficulties. (3)
  • Search for appropriate cataloguing and descriptive rules to complete cataloguing and description records according to standards. Consult various sources such as policy and procedure handbooks and manuals. (3)
  • Search for information about books, magazines, journals and other materials by consulting various sources such as the Canadian Book Review Annual. Consult publishers' catalogues and bulletins and visit booksellers' websites to read reviews and suggestions. (Library Technicians and Assistants) (3)
  • Conduct extensive searches for materials and information requested by clients. Use tools such as on-line library catalogues, Internet search engines, on-line databases of journals, magazines, and newspapers, dictionaries, encyclopaedias, almanacs and other specialized reference books. Sometimes help library and archive users clarify requests and work with partial references. Confer with co-workers and colleagues about the most appropriate information sources. Develop personal search tools such as timelines for publication name changes and folders of on-line resources organized by category. Follow up computer searches with telephone calls to other libraries and archives to inquire about the availability of materials requested. (4)
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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)
  • Evaluate the accessibility and ease of use of library and archive materials. For example, evaluate the organization of materials and use circulation rates to place frequently-used materials in places that are easily accessible. Archive assistants evaluate the ease of use of archival materials in collections to determine whether finding aids would be appropriate. (2)
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