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Salaries of Librarians and Other Professionals Working in Libraries

Questions about library staff salaries are some of the more frequently posed to the LRS staff. To help answer these questions, we consulted the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) and the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) produced by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The data is gathered and reported using the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) System. The SOC combines library workers from all types of library settings under the broad occupational categories of Librarian, Library Technician, and Library Assistant.

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The Average Copyright of Colorado School Library Books is (Still) 15 Years Old

In 2001, the average copyright of a book collection in Colorado school libraries was 1986—over 15 years old. Although the average copyright has increased to 1991, the age of Colorado school library collections has not. In schools, access to information is essential, but the information students are retrieving is often older than they are.

Consider some of the major events that have occurred since 1991:

  • Bill Clinton is elected as the 42nd president (1992).
  • The World Trade Center is bombed the first time (1993).
  • Nelson Mandela is inaugurated as South Africa’s first black president (1994).
  • The Oklahoma City bombing occurs at the Alfred P. Murrah federal building (1995).
  • The first version of Java programming language is released (1996).
  • Dolly the sheep is the first mammal to be successfully cloned (1997).
  • Google is founded (1998).
  • The Columbine High School shooting occurs Littleton, Colorado (1999).

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AskColorado Use Continues to Grow in Second Year

AskColorado, a statewide virtual reference service which recently completed its second year of helping Coloradans, continues to gain momentum and receive positive feedback from its users. The 24/7 reference service, staffed by more than 200 library personnel from all types of libraries throughout the state, significantly increased its number of users between its first and second years. During the first 10 months of its existence (September 2003 through June 2004), the librarians were involved in an average of 2,000 reference transactions per month. In its second year (July 2004 through June 2005), that number rose to an average of more than 3,500 transactions in each month. In February 2005 alone AskColorado librarians were involved with 6,483 reference transactions. Note: A reference transaction is defined as a discrete online reference session with one or more users which may include one or more questions and answers.

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The U.S. Labor Market for Library Workers, 2002-12

Librarian retirements are at what some believe to be an all-time high. Many in the field are also concerned about the apparent extent to which library jobs are being restructured and, sometimes, eliminated. In this seemingly unstable climate, several questions come to mind:

  • How many jobs are there for library workers generally—and librarians in particular?
  • How many of those jobs will be vacated in the foreseeable future?
  • How many library jobs will be created or lost?
  • Are there enough people to fill the library positions that will be available?
  • How well (or poorly) are these jobs compensated?

Data that can help decision-makers begin to address these questions are available in Occupational Employment, Training, and Earnings Data accessible via the Bureau of Labor Statistics website. (See http://data.bls.gov/oep/noeted/empoptd.jsp.)

BLS defines 3 library occupations—librarian, library technician, and library assistant (clerical). For definitions of these occupations, see the full report.

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AskColorado’s First Year Online

AskColorado, a statewide virtual reference service, was launched on September 2, 2003. The service, available for both English and Spanish-speaking patrons, is staffed by over 200 library personnel from all types of libraries throughout the state. AskColorado is funded through a combination of local contributions from Colorado libraries, federal funds provided by the Colorado State Library under the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), and state general funds allocated to the State Library. Available online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at http://www.askcolorado.org/, the librarians at AskColorado answered, on average, over 2,000 questions a month during the service’s first year of operation. The service’s usage figures have continued to increase. During the first two months of 2005 an average of over 5,000 questions were answered per month, over half of them from K-12 students.

AskColorado Highlights

  • Over 2,000 reference questions were answered per month (on average) during AskColorado’s first year online.
  • In early 2005, over 6,000 questions were answered during a single month.
  • Nearly three-quarters of respondents found the service to be “helpful” or “very helpful.”
  • Well over half of respondents under age 18 (59%) and aged 18-24 (71%) used AskColorado to do research for homework or another school project.

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Librarianship in Colorado School Libraries

In the recent study, Retirement, Retention, and Recruitment: The Future of Librarianship in Colorado, library workers from all types of libraries from around the state were asked about their careers, their workplaces, and their attitudes about librarianship. Included in the study were school librarians, who were defined as librarians with a library media endorsement, Master of Library Science degree, or equivalent and working in a Colorado school library. This issue of Fast Facts reports the responses of the 110 school librarians who participated in the study.

Highlights from School Librarian Respondents

  • Nearly 9 out of 10 indicated they were 45 or older.
  • Almost half indicated they plan to retire in the next five years (45%).
  • One in 3 have more than 20 years library work experience.
  • Nine out of 10 said they had some experience working or volunteering in a school or library before pursuing a library credential.
  • More than 3 out of 5 identified a love of books or reading as a factor making librarianship an attractive profession.
  • More than 2 out of 3 said misconceptions about librarianship discouraged a career in the profession.

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Power Libraries Workshops Prepare–and Motivate–Librarians and Other Educators to Collaborate

During Fall 2004 and early Winter 2005, the Colorado Power Libraries project offered a series of workshops throughout the state to encourage more schools to join the project. Power Libraries promotes collaboration between administrators, classroom teachers, and library staff through peer-to-peer mentoring. Educators who attended these events were asked how they intended to act differently after the workshop—within the next week, month, semester, or year.

Of the 259 registrants, there were 216 survey respondents who identified themselves by educator type—just over 40 percent were teachers, almost another 40 percent were library staff, and 20 percent were administrators.

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Hourly Wages of Colorado Library Workers

During the spring and early summer of 2004, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) conducted a Job Vacancy Survey in the Denver metropolitan area. The report of that survey’s results includes hourly wage statistics for all jobs, including 3 types of library workers: librarians, library technicians, and library assistants.

According to those statistics, hourly wages average $23.78 for librarians, $13.42 for library technicians, and $10.46 for library assistants. These wage rates translate into full-time salaries (based on a 40-hour week and a 52-week year) of approximately $49,500, $27,900, and $21,800, respectively (see Chart 1 in full report).

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Downward Trend in Colorado School Library Staffing, 2000-02

Recent trends in library staffing for Colorado public schools are cause for concern. Changes in the numbers of school librarians and library aides between 2000 and 2002, and particularly their changing educational composition, suggest that school librarianship in Colorado is being de-professionalized. Because research links the presence and involvement of professional school librarians with higher CSAP test scores, this trend is an alarming one.

Net Loss in Number of School Librarians
Between 2000 and 2002…

  • There was a net loss of 14 school librarian positions.
  • While 17 additional librarians with bachelor’s degrees were added, 31 librarians with master’s degrees were lost.

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The Colorado Advocacy Project

The Colorado Advocacy Project, Colorado’s @your library Campaign, is a very successful statewide advocacy campaign containing elements of public relations, marketing, and community relations to build visibility and support for the state’s libraries. Funded by LSTA and sponsored by the Colorado Association of Libraries, it has been active since 2002 and is scheduled for completion in October 2004 with 3 components:

  • The Initiative (Coach/Player) Project;
  • Public Relations/Marketing Training;
  • Statewide Promotion Project.

The Coach/Player Project matched mentor libraries with trainee libraries for year-long advice and support. The first year’s project had 13 participating coaches and 11 participating players. 100% of both coaches and players completed library advocacy projects.

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LRS is part of the Colorado State Library, a unit of the Colorado Department of Education. We design and conduct library research for library and education professionals, public officials, and the media to inform practices and assessment needs. We partner with the Library and Information Science program at University of Denver's Morgridge College of Education to provide research fellowships to current MLIS students.

This project is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

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