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Library Technician vs. Librarian: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

A library technician and a librarian are both important positions within a library. They both work with patrons, assist with library programming and help maintain the library’s collection. However, there are several key differences between the two positions. In this article, we compare and contrast the job duties, education requirements and salary expectations for library technicians and librarians.

What is a Library Technician?

Library Technicians typically work under the supervision of a librarian to help with the day-to-day operations of a library. They may be responsible for tasks such as cataloging new materials, shelving books, checking materials in and out, and assisting patrons with using the library’s resources. Library Technicians may also help with more specialized tasks such as developing and managing the library’s website or social media presence, planning events or programming, and selecting new materials for the library’s collection.

What is a Librarian?

Librarians are responsible for the organization, maintenance and circulation of library materials. They work in libraries and archives to catalog and shelve books, magazines, newspapers, audio and video tapes, and other materials. They also help patrons locate materials and provide reference services. Librarians may also be responsible for the selection of library materials, which can include ordering and purchasing new items. In addition, librarians may develop and maintain library websites and online databases. They may also give presentations and workshops on various topics related to library science.

Library Technician vs. Librarian

Here are the main differences between a library technician and a librarian.

Job Duties

Although both library technicians and librarians have similar job duties, the type of tasks they perform can differ. Library technicians typically focus on technical aspects of running a library, such as maintaining the computer systems and databases and troubleshooting any issues that may occur with these technologies. In contrast, librarians tend to perform more managerial and supervisory duties, such as managing the budget, training new staff members and overseeing other staff members’ work responsibilities.

Librarians also often provide instruction to library users, particularly those who are seeking information beyond what is available through databases and books. Library technicians rarely interact with library patrons, unless there is a technology issue that needs resolving.

Job Requirements

Library technicians typically need to have an associate degree in library science or a related field. Some employers prefer candidates to have a bachelor’s degree, but it is not always required. Many library technician programs include coursework on topics like information literacy and research methods. Library technicians might also take classes on specific types of libraries, such as medical or law libraries.

Librarians usually need to have at least a master’s degree in library science from an accredited program. Some librarians pursue a Doctor of Library Science (DLS) degree, which is the highest level of education available in the field. Librarian programs often include coursework on topics like reference services, information technology and collection development.

Work Environment

Library technicians work in libraries, but they may also work for companies that provide services to libraries. They may also work at schools or other educational institutions. Librarians typically work in libraries, although some librarians choose to work as school librarians.

Librarians and library technicians both work in environments where they can help people find information quickly and efficiently. Library technicians often work with patrons who need assistance finding resources, while librarians usually have more advanced knowledge of the library’s collection and are able to assist patrons with more complex questions.


Both library technicians and librarians use customer service skills when assisting patrons with questions or needs. They also need to be able to effectively communicate with co-workers, supervisors and other professionals.

Organization is important for both positions, as library technicians and librarians need to be able to keep track of the materials in the library and know where everything is located. They may also be responsible for organizing events, such as book clubs or author visits, which requires planning and coordination skills.

Library technicians typically need to have basic computer skills to perform their job duties, such as cataloging books and managing patron accounts. Librarians often need to have more advanced computer skills, as they may be responsible for developing and maintaining the library’s website, conducting research using online databases and teaching patrons how to use the computers and other technology in the library.


Library technicians earn an average salary of $45,589 per year, while librarians earn an average salary of $62,647 per year. The average salary for both positions may vary depending on the size of the library, the location of the library and the level of experience the library technician or librarian has.


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