Paraprofessionals are high-level library support personnel. They are also called support staff or support assistants.
Unlike librarians, they do not usually have an MLS degree.They may receive their training through college as library technicians or through on-the-job training. The labels "paraprofessional" and "semi-professional" can be criticized as sounding derogatory, as can requiring a library degree for positions that seasoned support staff are qualified to hold. Along with student workers and volunteers, paraprofessionals do the bulk of operations work in a library. Paraprofessionals with technical training may earn more than librarians.
As with similar groups of educational achievement in other professions (doctors and nurses, lawyers and paralegals, officers and enlisted soldiers, etc.), the relationship between librarians and support staff can vary greatly. Some libraries have unionized staff support, which may add or detract to the level of collegiality.
The ALA recently added a support staff membership level.
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Other duties of Paraprofessionals:
- Shelve material returned and in order in the correct areas.
- Shelf read to make sure items are in the correct area.
- Sort items and arrange for later use.
- Pull materials from stacks.
- Register new patrons and update patron information when needed.
- Renew patron loans.
- Inspect equipment and materials for damage upon return.
- Route Inter Library Loan materials as needed.
- Make sure item request are properly entered into the circulation system.
- Keep availability of reserve items.
- Prepare overdue notice reports for administration as directed.
- Deliver incoming mail.
- Answer and route all incoming phone calls.
- Maintain photocopy and computer equipment.
- Perform physical maintenance of premises.
- Perform opening and closing activities to prepare the library.
- Other duties as assigned.