The Role of Paraprofessionals in Technical Services in Academic Libraries

Lihong Zhu


Technological advances, budget cuts, reorganizations, downsizing, outsourcing, expanded roles of professionals, and changes in the information world are redistributing the workload between professionals and paraprofessionals in academic library technical services units. Today, paraprofessionals manage major functional areas in technical services and dominate the technical services work force. The roles of paraprofessionals have expanded to include duties once considered the sole responsibilities of professionals in technical services. In 2011, the author conducted a survey to understand more about the roles of technical services paraprofessionals in academic libraries during the previous five years. This paper analyzes the survey results and provides insight into the roles of paraprofessionals in technical services in academic libraries by examining required educational degrees and high-level skills for paraprofessional positions, complex duties that are regularly assigned to paraprofessional positions, and staff development incentives and opportunities.

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