I'm looking for a word to indicate a member of a library's staff.

The obvious choice, librarian, is not appropriate, because it refers to someone with a specific degree, usually in Library or Information Science. (Referring to all staff members at a library as librarians would be akin to referring to all medical practitioners in a hospital as doctors.)

Can anyone think of something more concise than library staff member, preferably one word?

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    There isn't a single word for every job (and there's certainly not one that encompasses "everyone who works in a library, from the custodian to the reshelver, barring actual librarians"). "Staff" and "employee" are pretty all-purpose. If we know you're talking about a library, those words suffice; if not, say "library employee" or "library staff."
    – user13141
    Nov 26, 2011 at 20:03
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    In the UK, a librarian can be anyone from the person who hands you your books to the most highly qualified bibliothec in the land. Not much help to you, though, which is why I haven't posted it as answer. Nov 26, 2011 at 20:21
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    Think you're drawing an unfair distinction there. In normal British usage, anyone with a medical degree is called a doctor. The fact that some of them prefer to be referred to as surgeons, and called "Mr", is relevant in hospitals, but not in English. Similarly, what terminology librarians use is important in some situations, but not linguistically. Nov 26, 2011 at 21:28
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    I'd say it was widely accepted, and used in writing as well as speech, although it might be necessary to differentiate in some professional contexts. Nov 26, 2011 at 21:29
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    @TimLymimgton - I think you might have misunderstood daxelrod's hospital analogy: everyone with a medical degree may be called a doctor but the hospital has other employees too: nurses, orderlies, x-ray technicians, patient assistants, chaplains. In the US they could be referred to as hospital employees, hospital staff, hospital workers, etc.
    – Lynn
    Nov 27, 2011 at 3:00

2 Answers 2


I worked at a library. Depending on the job, librarian could still fit, even if the person did not have a specialized degree.

M-W defines librarian as:

a specialist in the care or management of a library

The key term here is 'specialist'. People who serve a specialized role in the library, like doing research or managing a department, would commonly be called librarians. Similarly, the head of a school library would also be a librarian, regardless of their degree.

Someone like me, whose primary job was to put books back on the shelves and man the check out desk, would more commonly be called a library assistant or simply library staff.

  • I used to work in a library as well. This question was prompted by my needing a label for a form field. I originally used Librarian but was told this was incorrect. Nobody had a better suggestion, though. You're correct that I may be conflating the degree and the job title. I believe that this library may have required the degree of anyone who held the position, although I could be misremembering.
    – daxelrod
    Nov 27, 2011 at 0:16
  • Oh, I meant to ask, was your library in the US? Mine was. Other answerers suggest that the British usage may be slightly different from that in the US.
    – daxelrod
    Nov 27, 2011 at 0:20
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    US. And you could be right that some places require a degree for a titled "Librarian" position, but I don't think that's universal.
    – Lynn
    Nov 27, 2011 at 2:56

The American Library Association uses the term library support staff, which indicates that there probably isn't a more concise term. If there were, you would expect the ALA to have used it, after all.

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