For the last 3 years, Library Research Service, a unit of the Colorado State Library, has provided a venue for libraries and library staff to meet in the job search. LibraryJobline.org is a database-supported website where job seekers can create personal accounts and libraries from throughout the state and nation can post job listings. This free service, available online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, offers job seekers interactive tools to specify what they are looking for in a position and allows them to receive notifications when a related description is posted. Comparisons among the postings over the 3-year period reflect aspects of the current economic climate as well as reveal trends in the library field.
- 1,500 positions posted
- More than 1,500 people have signed up for MyJobline accounts
- 2 out of 3 registered users receive email notifications of new job posts
- More than 1 out of 3 registered users subscribe to Jobline’s RSS feed
Number of Job Postings
As librarians are well aware, their profession has not been immune to the negative effects of the economic recession. This is evident simply from the decline in the number of job postings on Library Jobline. Only 233 jobs were posted during 2009—56 percent of the total posted in 2008 (418) and less than half (45%) of the 2007 total (523).
The sharp decline started in September 2008 and continued through most of the following year. By the last 3 months of 2009, however, the number of job posts matched those of the same period in 2008. Though still considerably fewer than the number of jobs posted in 2007, this may indicate the first signs of recovery (see Chart 1).
While the number of job postings decreased, the number of job post views increased by 23 percent (from 338,347 in 2008 to 416,253 in 2009). Not only are fewer jobs available, but those looking for work face more competition.
In an increasingly competitive job market, job seekers and employers search for a variety of ways to distinguish the top candidates from the larger pool of applicants. Advanced education traditionally has been a way to do that. Surprisingly, the percentage of job postings requiring an MLS degree has decreased slightly in the last 3 years (from 35% in 2007 to 31% in 2009). However, a notable increase in the proportion of postings preferring an MLS degree, from 12 percent in 2007 to 18 percent in 2009, suggests that the further education is still an advantage for job seekers (see Chart 2).
Reasons for the changes in degree preferences and requirements are unclear. Even so, it is obvious that the increase in the percentage of job posts preferring the degree is connected to the decrease in percentage of job posts that require and do not require the degree. The changes could simply be due to the level and types of jobs posted, which can vary from year to year (i.e. more shelving versus administrative positions, or an increase in positions that combine professional and non-professional duties).
Another noticeable shift has occurred in the ratio of full-time (40 hours per week) to part-time (less than 40 hours per week) job posts. Over the last three years, the percentage of full-time job posts has steadily decreased, dropping from 72 percent in 2007 to 62 percent in 2009. The same trend seems to be occurring nationwide, according to Library Journal’s1 latest report on the employment rates and salaries of recent MLIS graduates. In 2007, nearly 9 out of 10 (89%) MLIS graduates reported finding full-time jobs, but only 7 of 10 had similar luck in 2008.
Posts by Library Type
Overall, the proportion of job postings by library type stayed about the same as in previous years, with the majority of posts (58%) being for jobs in public libraries. Fewer than 1 out of 5 postings were for academic (19%) and special (17%) libraries, and just 1 of 10 were for schools (9%). Perhaps due in part to other avenues for advertising available positions, especially in school libraries, these proportions may not be an accurate reflection of the actual number of job openings (see Chart 3).
Although school library postings account for a small percentage of the positions posted on Jobline, they tend to garner considerable interest. The “Hot Job” of 2009 was for a teacher librarian with Denver Public Schools. This post was viewed more than 5,000 times. The next most popular post, for a management position with the Rangeview Library District, received 28 percent fewer views, with 3,663.
For those lucky enough to find a job, salary is an obvious concern. Unfortunately, it appears that salary was not immune to the cutbacks visible in other areas. Although the average starting hourly wage of job postings2 saw a significant increase from 2007 to 2008 (4.3%), it declined by 2.4 percent during 2009.
2007 – $17.68
2008 – $18.44
2009 – $18.00
Average Hourly Salaries
For Library Staff
Bureau of Labor Statistics
May 2007 – $19.69
May 2008 – $20.40
May 2007- $20.73
May 2008 – $21.39
Compared to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ librarian and library technician salary estimates3 for the nation and for Colorado, the salaries listed for Library Jobline posts are on the low end. This could be due to an uneven distribution of postings according to their level and salaries (i.e. more page positions than administration), skewing the average lower. Another factor may be that the Bureau of Labor Statistics uses actual current wages, rather than starting salaries, in its calculations. Nevertheless, Library Jobline postings showed a higher percentage increase in average salary from 2007-2008 (4.3%) than did the nation (3.6%) or the state of Colorado as a whole (3.2%).
Salary and MLS Degree
While average salaries overall declined in 2009, the job postings requiring an MLS—though slightly fewer than in previous years—were offering higher average starting wages. Positions with fewer educational requirements dropped below the average salary from 2 years before.
Most drastic was the drop in salary for job postings preferring an MLS. The decrease of 13.5 percent brought the average down by $2.70 from 2008 to 2009, settling at a significantly lower amount, even, than in 2007. It seems that although more job postings preferred candidates with an MLS degree, they weren’t necessarily offering monetary compensation for it (see Chart 4).
Average Hourly Salary4 by MLS Degree Requirement
2007, 2008, 2009
Without a doubt, the most significant change in Library Jobline’s third year was the drastically lower number of jobs posted—little more than half the number posted in 2008. At the same time, the number of job post views has increased considerably (23%). More people are looking for jobs, but there are fewer job openings, and salaries for those jobs available have decreased. The final months of 2009 saw the number of job posts return to late 2008 levels, showing the slightest signs of the beginnings of a recovery. Even so, Library Jobline stats show the library field still has a long way to go in climbing out of the economic slump.