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Essential skills profile

This profile contains a list of example tasks that illustrate how each of the 9 essential skills is generally performed by most workers in this occupation. The levels of complexity estimated for each task are ranked between 1 (basic) and 5 (advanced).

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Library Clerks(1451)

Library clerks issue and receive library materials, sort and shelve books and provide general library information to users. They also perform clerical functions such as filing, typing and word processing. Library clerks are employed by libraries or other establishments with library services.

Reading Help - Reading
  • Read memos, information bulletins and electronic mail (e-mail) about special events or new procedures at the library. (1)
  • Read minutes of staff meetings. (1)
  • Read suggestion forms filled out by patrons to improve library services. (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 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 them 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)
Document use Help - 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)
  • 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)
  • 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)
  • Consult mail rate charts to mail parcels and book price lists to buy new books. (2)
  • Read work schedules to see when they work and what they will be doing. (2)
  • Read statistical tables showing the number of transactions performed in a month. (2)
  • Reference sketches of computer screens in computer manuals when learning how to use new software. (2)
  • Reference diagrams on photocopiers to learn how to operate them. (2)
  • Fill out library book pocket cards, interlibrary loan forms, vacation request forms and order forms. (2)
Writing Help - Writing
  • Write patrons' names on items being held for them or on waiting lists for particular books. (1)
  • Write reminder notes to themselves and lists of tasks to be done. (1)
  • Write notes, entries in a daybook or e-mail messages to inform other staff of problems, suggestions, notable events or compliments. (1)
  • Write new-member profiles and enter them into the computer system. (1)
  • Help patrons complete book request forms. (1)
  • Prepare form letters to request that overdue books be returned. (2)
  • Write memos to supervisors, requesting vacation time or training. (2)
  • Write memos or e-mail to other library branches about loans, requests and returns. (2)
  • May write procedures to be followed by other staff in their absence. (2)
Numeracy Help - Numeracy Money Math
  • Receive payment for fines and make change. They also handle money from the photocopier and from the sale of old books. At the end of the day, they 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)
Scheduling, Budgeting & Accounting Math
  • Write debit and credit notes, recording lost books charged to a branch library and reversing the recording process if the books are found. (1)
  • May enter expenditures, such as book purchases, in a budget monitoring system categorizing each expenditure appropriately. (1)
Measurement and Calculation Math
  • Count the number of books to be shelved and the number of loan requests. (1)
  • 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)
Data Analysis Math
  • 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)
  • Compile statistics on how many transactions of particular types occurred in a period of time and calculate the percent change in library use, compared to previous months or years. (2)
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)
Oral communication Help - Oral communication
  • Interact by telephone with staff in branch libraries and other library systems to request, search for, or take requests for books. (1)
  • May contact publishers about book orders that have not been received. (1)
  • Co-ordinate tasks with other staff. (1)
  • 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)
  • Talk to patrons to deal with complaints. (2)
  • Discuss work schedule with co-workers and procedures, such as how to get work done more efficiently and accurately. (2)
  • May instruct patrons on how to use the microfiche, microform catalogues or the photocopying machine and on how to fill in request forms. (2)
  • Participate in regular staff meetings and listen to announcements about new procedures. (2)
  • Discuss work schedules, instructions, policies and procedures with their supervisor. (2)
  • May interact with children to conduct library tours or story-hour readings. (3)
Thinking Help - Thinking Problem Solving
  • Books must be sorted on to carts so that they can be shelved efficiently. Library clerks determine how to do this efficiently by grouping books according to floor and section. (1)
  • Library patrons may claim that overdue items have been returned. Library clerks 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 library clerk must also deal with this situation. (2)
  • Library clerks answer patrons' questions and requests for information. They determine how to help patrons by directing them to the most likely sources and the most relevant materials. (2)
  • When computers, microform machines or photocopiers break down, library clerks determine how to repair the machine or call a technician. (2)
Decision Making
  • Decide whether to find an item for patrons or to explain how they can find it themselves. (1)
  • Decide whether to do reference searches themselves 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)
  • Decide if loan requests, such as an extended loan, are legitimate and practical. They may refuse the request if it is not. (2)
  • Decide when to charge patrons for damaged items. (2)
  • Decide when to pass problems or complaints to a supervisor. (2)
  • Decide whether to let a patron take out a book which is not normally allowed out of the library. (2)
Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking information was not collected for this profile.

Job Task Planning and Organizing

Some library 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.

Other library 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)

Significant Use of Memory
  • Remember the library coding and classification system and library procedures and policies.
  • Remember user requests for materials and the current status of searches for materials.
  • May remember procedures used in the past to order and charge for books purchased in an irregular way.
Finding Information
  • Find out the location and availability of specific materials requested, often using electronic databases. (1)Problem Solving
    • Books must be sorted on to carts so that they can be shelved efficiently. Library clerks determine how to do this efficiently by grouping books according to floor and section. (1)
    • Library patrons may claim that overdue items have been returned. Library clerks 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 library clerk must also deal with this situation. (2)
    • Library clerks answer patrons' questions and requests for information. They determine how to help patrons by directing them to the most likely sources and the most relevant materials. (2)
    • When computers, microform machines or photocopiers break down, library clerks determine how to repair the machine or call a technician. (2)
    Decision Making
    • Decide whether to find an item for patrons or to explain how they can find it themselves. (1)
    • Decide whether to do reference searches themselves 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)
    • Decide if loan requests, such as an extended loan, are legitimate and practical. They may refuse the request if it is not. (2)
    • Decide when to charge patrons for damaged items. (2)
    • Decide when to pass problems or complaints to a supervisor. (2)
    • Decide whether to let a patron take out a book which is not normally allowed out of the library. (2)
    Critical Thinking

    Critical Thinking information was not collected for this profile.

    Job Task Planning and Organizing

    Some library 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.

    Other library 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)

    Significant Use of Memory
    • Remember the library coding and classification system and library procedures and policies.
    • Remember user requests for materials and the current status of searches for materials.
    • May remember procedures used in the past to order and charge for books purchased in an irregular way.
    Finding Information
    • Find out the location and availability of specific materials requested, often using electronic databases. (1)Problem Solving
      • Books must be sorted on to carts so that they can be shelved efficiently. Library clerks determine how to do this efficiently by grouping books according to floor and section. (1)
      • Library patrons may claim that overdue items have been returned. Library clerks 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 library clerk must also deal with this situation. (2)
      • Library clerks answer patrons' questions and requests for information. They determine how to help patrons by directing them to the most likely sources and the most relevant materials. (2)
      • When computers, microform machines or photocopiers break down, library clerks determine how to repair the machine or call a technician. (2)
      Decision Making
      • Decide whether to find an item for patrons or to explain how they can find it themselves. (1)
      • Decide whether to do reference searches themselves 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)
      • Decide if loan requests, such as an extended loan, are legitimate and practical. They may refuse the request if it is not. (2)
      • Decide when to charge patrons for damaged items. (2)
      • Decide when to pass problems or complaints to a supervisor. (2)
      • Decide whether to let a patron take out a book which is not normally allowed out of the library. (2)
      Critical Thinking

      Critical Thinking information was not collected for this profile.

      Job Task Planning and Organizing

      Some library 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.

      Other library 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)

      Significant Use of Memory
      • Remember the library coding and classification system and library procedures and policies.
      • Remember user requests for materials and the current status of searches for materials.
      • May remember procedures used in the past to order and charge for books purchased in an irregular way.
      Finding Information
      • Find out the location and availability of specific materials requested, often using electronic databases. (1)
      • May request information about the status of ordered materials from the supplier or publisher. (1)
      • Obtain information on interlibrary loans from other libraries. (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 their knowledge of the material in the library, consulting electronic databases and asking co-workers for suggestions. (2)
    • May request information about the status of ordered materials from the supplier or publisher. (1)
    • Obtain information on interlibrary loans from other libraries. (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 their knowledge of the material in the library, consulting electronic databases and asking co-workers for suggestions. (2)
  • May request information about the status of ordered materials from the supplier or publisher. (1)
  • Obtain information on interlibrary loans from other libraries. (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 their knowledge of the material in the library, consulting electronic databases and asking co-workers for suggestions. (2)
Digital technology Help - Digital technology
  • They enter information onto order forms. (2)
  • They search for information using national and international sources. (2)
  • They calculate overdue fines and for accounting. (2)
  • They receive and send messages by electronic mail (e-mail). (2)
Additional information Help - Additional information Other Essential Skills:

Working with Others

Library clerks mainly work independently. Often they work with other library staff as a team, co-ordinating job tasks and exchanging information with each other. Sometimes they work with a partner or helper.

Continuous Learning

Library clerks must keep up-to-date on new materials, on where to find them and on new locations for materials. They must upgrade their computer skills to keep up-to-date with the latest software and databases. They learn through reading and using the materials available at the library and may occasionally take courses and workshops offered through the library.

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