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Non-MLS Salaries in Public Libraries Disparate

Library support staff are a vital part of many public libraries. They can be an integral part of a department’s services for their patrons. The ALA-APA Non-MLS Salary Survey is ALA’s first attempt to collect salary information nationally for all non-MLS staff not included in the ALA Survey of Librarian Salaries. The survey asked participating academic and public libraries for salary information for an overwhelming 62 positions.

248_Table 1

For public libraries, 10 of the 62 positions had 500 or more responses (see Table 1). Of these 10, 9 were in the Public Service category. Furthermore, Adult Services was the only department to have all 3 position levels (Clerk, Library Technical Assistant, and Associate Librarian) represented in this high response group. (See definitions below for the position levels.)

Associate Librarian (non-MLS degreed) – Provides assistance to patrons including topical research and material location. Assists patrons with the use of library resources and equipment. Screens the collection for outdated or unused materials following established guidelines. May perform managerial and administrative duties.

Library Technical Assistant – Provides basic assistance to patrons referring patrons to Librarian for professional assistance. Locates materials and information for patrons. May complete routine copy cataloging. Assists with special programming.

Clerk – Performs routine duties requiring the use of a variety of forms, reports or procedures. Provides basic patron assistance: sets up computer stations, locates materials, provides information. Maintains department or area records. Performs miscellaneous clerical duties such as filling, typing, sorting, or photocopying.

Unlike the previous issue of Fast Facts, “Non-MLS Salaries in Academic Libraries Wide Ranging,” there is no clear salary discrepancy specifically for staff in Adult Services when compared to their peers. In fact, the results indicate that Adult Service Clerks have a higher average annual salary than Circulation Clerks—a difference of $823 (see Chart 1).

248_Chart 1

The average annual salary of Library Technical Assistants (LTA) of Adult Services falls in the middle when compared to their peers. On average, LTAs of Reference/Information Services earn $1,291 more than those in Adult Services, while LTAs of Adult Services earn $362 more than those in Children’s Services/Young Adult Services.

The results for Associate Librarian of Adult Services, on the other hand, show a lower average annual salary than their peers. The average Associate Librarian’s salary is $33,561 for Children’s Services/Young Adult Services and $34,474 for Reference/Information Services. Therefore, the average annual salary of Adult Services (29,527) is between $3,000 and $3,913 less than their peers.

Findings for public libraries are similar to those in academic libraries. Results from both library types indicate that salaries of Associate Librarians (non-MLS) are catching up to salaries of Beginning Librarians (MLS), as reported in the 2006 ALA-APA Non-MLS Salary Survey. Also, the number of positions reported in both surveys indicates there may be more Associate Librarians than Beginning Librarians working in public libraries.

The average annual salary for all types of Associate Librarians in public libraries is $33,680 and the average for Beginning Librarians is $40,026 (see Chart 2). Therefore, Associate Librarians (non-MLS) earn only $6,346 less than Beginning Librarians (MLS). This is a greater difference than the one between Beginning Librarians and Librarians Who Do Not Supervise (that difference is $1,650). Notably, however, there are fewer reports of Beginning Librarians salaries than Librarians Who Do not Supervise and Associate Librarians. While the MLS survey received 1,650 responses for Librarians Who Do Not Supervise, the survey only received 311 for Beginning Librarians. The Non-MLS survey received 3,416 responses for Associate Librarians.

248_Chart 2

To conclude, the data suggests that although non-MLS staff in Adult Services may not always earn the highest average annual salaries compared to positions in other departments, their salaries are still competitive with their peers in positions at similar levels. This may indicate that public libraries recognize the need to retain well-trained and experienced staff in support positions.

On the other hand, a comparison of Beginning Librarian (MLS) and Associate Librarian (non-MLS) salaries, suggests a lack of recognition for Beginning Librarians. Based on the data, it appears that public libraries employ Associate Librarians (non-MLS) 10 times more than Beginning Librarians (MLS). The salaries of Associate Librarians are also closing in on Beginning Librarians. It is encouraging to see public libraries recognize the value of non-MLS staff by providing competitive salaries. However, if this is truly the case, libraries need to also recognize the importance of the Beginning Librarian position in order to retain qualified professional staff for the future.

Sources

  • Grady, J. & Davis, D. (2006). ALA-APA Non-MLS Salary Survey: A Survey of Library Positions Not Requiring an ALA-Accredited Master’s Degree. American Library Association – Allied Professional Association.
  • Grady, J. & Davis, D. (2006). ALA Survey of Librarian Salaries. American Library Association – Allied Professional Association.

Colorado Public Librarians Eligible for Public Assistance

Based on the results of the 2005 Colorado Public Library Annual Report, many librarians in Colorado earn salaries that meet the income eligibility criteria for public assistance programs. These benefits are based on income and generally calculated for a family of four.

Out of the 114 public libraries in Colorado, 63, or 55 percent, provide services to populations of 5,000 or more. The information in this report focuses on the data collected from these 63 libraries.

Salaries range from $17,832 to $144,444. Interestingly, both the lowest and highest salaries reported were for the position of Director.

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Non-MLS Reference Salaries in Academic Libraries Lag Behind Peers

Library staff who help patrons have a great impact on public perception of the library. The positions of associate librarian, technical assistant, clerks, and various other non-MLS staff are vital to several library services (see full report for position definitions). Many libraries, including academic libraries, use non-MLS staff to support reference areas. At every position level, non-MLS reference staff help patrons with questions and conduct searches, according to the ALA-APA Non-MLS Salary Survey. Their direct contact with the public puts them in a liaison position between patrons and library services. They may be a patron’s first or only contact with library staff. Despite the training and knowledge needed to properly assist in a reference area, many non-MLS reference positions in academic libraries earn less than their peers in others areas (e.g. Cataloging, Adult Services, etc.)

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Salaries of Academic Librarians in the West & Southwest Region

The salaries of academic librarians, like many in the library field, are affected by their position, the type of library they are working in, and where their library is located. The ALA Survey of Librarian Salaries 2005 reports average salaries for each of these influencing factors.

Most average salaries for the West and Southwest region, which includes Colorado, were lower than the national averages (see Chart 1, in full report). Librarians at four-year colleges consistently earned salaries lower than the national average at every position with the exception of Librarians Who Do Not Supervise. The position to have the greatest salary difference between the regional and the national averages was Deputy/Associate/Assistant Director at a four-year college. They earned an average of $44,460 in the region and $49,927 nationally; a difference of $5,467.

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Earnings of Library Staff in Mountain West Low Compared to Workers in Similar Jobs

According to the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) System, librarians maintain library collections, provide patron assistance for locating materials and reference information, and organize collections. Library clerks, on the other hand, compile records, shelve materials, and issue/receive materials. Librarians and library clerks perform work similar to that of professional and clerical staff in other fields such as education, public administration, computer assistance, and accounting. However, library personnel receive lower hourly wages compared to many of these occupations.

This report examines the hourly wages of librarians and library clerks in the Mountain West division which includes Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana.

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Special Library Salaries in Mountain Region Lag Behind Nation

Money is always a hot topic in any profession and librarianship is no exception. Salary information is always interesting to note because of the wide ranges in pay—from different types of libraries to different types of positions. Since 1967, the Special Libraries Association (SLA) has conducted a salary and workplace survey that focuses on that sector of librarianship in both the United States and Canada. In 2005, there were a little over 3,000 completed surveys (a 35% response rate). Over half of the respondents were located in the southern states and, of the respondents from the United States, about 3 percent were from the Mountain area.

In 2005, the overall average salary for the “Mountain” region—which includes Colorado, Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming—was $56,524. The gap between the Mountain region and the United States as a whole was largest, by far, for administration/management positions. Average Mountain region salaries consistently lag behind the national average for all position types (see chart in full report).

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How Students and Faculty Use Academic Libraries Differently

As part of the 2005 Colorado Academic Library Impact Study, undergraduate students and faculty from nine colleges and universities were asked to provide information about the services they use at their institution’s library. They were also asked about their success in accessing resources through their own library and other libraries.

Highlights
• Library computer access is utilized by students far more than by faculty.
• The use of interlibrary loan services is much more widespread among faculty members than students.
• Only slightly more than half of surveyed faculty (52%) feel they can usually find the print periodicals they need through their institution’s library.

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Challenged Materials in Colorado Public Libraries, 2005

Each year the Library Research Service collects data on the state’s public libraries via the Colorado Public Library Annual Report survey. A section of that survey is focused on formal challenges to materials receive by libraries throughout the year. The American Library Association (ALA) defines a challenge as “an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group…Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others.” In the 2005 survey, 26 public libraries from across the state reported 104 formal challenges. Seventeen more challenges were reported for 2005 than for 2004, and 41 more challenges were reported for 2005 than for 2003 (see Chart 1 in full report).

Highlights

  • Of all reported challenges, 21 percent concerned the Spanish language comics called fotonovelas.
  • In 2005, only 3 items were challenged more than once at Colorado public libraries: Oregon Trail, Paris Trout, and Angels in America.
  • By far, the most frequent reason given for challenging materials in the library was that the content is “sexually explicit.”

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Access to Internet Goes Hand in Hand with Other Public Library Services

With public sector budgets tightening in recent years, one might wonder if public library administrators and boards are having to make difficult decisions between traditional library services—lending books, audio books, music CDs, and DVDs—and Internet-based services. National data for 2003 suggests that providing public access to Internet computers is now part of the mainstream of public library services. Three major per capita service outputs—library visits, circulation, and reference questions—tend to increase with the number of public Internet computers per 5,000 of legal service area population.

This pattern does not necessarily indicate that the availability of public Internet computers drives other types of library use; but, it does suggest that, more often than not, libraries that do more business in traditional ways are also likely to provide more access to Internet-based services. (See Chart in full report. Note: Each bar represents a quartile of U.S. public libraries on public Internet computers per 5,000 served: libraries with fewer than 2 computers, between 2 and 4 computers, between 4 and 8 computers, and 8 or more computers.)

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Training Jumpstarts Early Literacy Services

During Fall 2004 and early Winter 2005, the Colorado State Library, with the involvement of key library leaders, initiated a statewide effort to help libraries improve their services in early literacy. The project was based on the Every Child Ready to Read @your library campaign, an early childhood initiative of the Public Library Association and the Association for Library Service to Children.

As part of this project, seven early literacy workshops were held across the state. They covered current research on early literacy development and presented examples of the development of the six early literacy skills. The workshops were conducted by Renea Arnold, Early Childhood Resources Coordinator, Multnomah County Public Library, Oregon, and Bonnie McCune, Library Community Programs Consultant, Colorado State Library. Approximately 125 individuals received the training.

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