Workforce

Is $40,000 the Magic Number?

With such a wide range of salaries being offered to new Master of Library Science (MLS) graduates, it may be difficult to know just how much one should expect to be paid. It now appears that $40,000 may be the magic number.

Colorado Public Library Annual Report Job Definitions

  • Beginning Librarians: Staff with LIS master’s degrees but no professional experience after receiving the degree.
  • Non-supervisory Librarians:  Staff with LIS master’s degrees who were not reported earlier [i.e., managers, supervisors, associate directors, and directors] and who do not supervise.

According to a February 2007 press release by the American Library Association (ALA), $40,000 is the wage most agreed upon as the minimum starting salary that should be offered to professional librarians.1 In their annual salary survey, ALA defines a professional librarian as an individual with a master’s degree from an ALA-accredited program.2

The declaration passed by ALA at the 2007 Midwinter meeting, “endorses a nonbinding minimum salary of $40,000 for professional librarians.”  It also states: more than “three-quarters of respondent library workers support the establishment of salary minimums for librarians, with the commonest salary figure cited being $40,000.”3 The full resolution can be found on the ALA-APA website at: http://www.ala-apa.org/about/20062007APACD15.pdf.

How realistic is this number? The most recent data available from the 2005 Colorado Public Library Report, which reports salaries as of January 2006, illustrates how Colorado stands.4

Based on this report, out of the 115 public libraries in Colorado, 65 reported employing ALA-MLS accredited librarians. The remaining 50 libraries reported no librarians with ALA-MLS credentials (see Chart 1). Of these 65 libraries with ALA-MLS librarians, only 33 reported salaries for full-time beginning and non-supervisory librarian positions (see definitions in sidebar). The following information is based on the salaries reported by these 33 libraries.

250 Chart 1

More than half (17) of the 33 libraries, report paying a minimum salary of less than $40,000 to full-time beginning and non-supervisory librarians. Many of these salaries are significantly less than $40,000.

Less than one-third (10) of these libraries, report paying a minimum salary of $40,000 or more to full-time beginning and non-supervisory librarians. Six libraries did not report minimum salaries (see Chart 2).

250 Chart 2

More than three-fourths (25) of the 33 libraries report paying a maximum salary of $40,000 or more to beginning and non-supervisory librarians. While about one-fourth (8) of these libraries report paying a maximum salary of less than $40,000 (see Chart 3).

250 Chart 3

Perhaps the ALA resolution will be an incentive for libraries to increase the minimum salaries of librarians. At this time, however, more than half of the public libraries in Colorado do not pay the proposed minimum salary of $40,000 to full-time beginning or non-supervisory librarians.

250 Image 1

For detailed information regarding individual libraries reported salaries of librarians in Colorado go to: http://www.lrs.org/interactive/index.asp.

Salaries of Staff Working in Archives

The ALA-APA Non-MLS Salary Survey, the Society of American Archivists’ (SAA) A*CENSUS5 survey and the U.S. Department of Labor–Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) all have salary information and occupation definitions for positions in archives (see sidebars). The definition in the ALA-APA Non-MLS Salary Survey includes most of the tasks mentioned in the other two resources, stating that a staff member working in archives or special collections “manages and maintains collection; identifies and appraises records, authenticates, describes and documents, facilitates access and use, preserves and conserves, and exhibits collection.”

Position Definitions–Bureau of Labor Statistics

  • Archivists – Appraise, edit, and direct safekeeping of permanent records and historically valuable documents. Participate in research activities based on archival materials.
  • Librarians – Administer libraries and perform related library services. Tasks may include selecting, acquiring, cataloguing, classifying, circulating, and maintaining library materials; and furnishing reference, bibliographical, and readers’ advisory services. May perform in-depth, strategic research, and synthesize, analyze, edit, and filter information. May set up or work with databases and information systems to catalogue and access information.
  • Library Technicians – Assist librarians by helping readers in the use of library catalogs, databases, and indexes to locate books and other materials; and by answering questions that require only brief consultation of standard reference. Compile records; sort and shelve books; remove or repair damaged books; register patrons; check materials in and out of the circulation process. Replace materials in shelving area (stacks) or files.

Table 1
Available Salary Data for Positions in Archives249 Table 1

Salaries of those working in archives vary from more than $56,000 to less than $27,000, depending on the position (see Table 1). For example, according to the ALA Survey of Librarian Salaries, the average salary for an MLS Librarian is $56,259 (regardless of library type) whereas a non-MLS Archives and Special Collections Clerk (in an academic library) earns on average $26,424 annually.

Position Definitions–Society of American Archivists
Archivist:
1. An individual responsible for appraising, acquiring, arranging, describing, preserving, and providing access to records of enduring value, according to the principles of provenance, original order, and collective control to protect the materials’ authenticity and context.
2. An individual with responsibility for management and oversight of an archival repository or of records of enduring value.

The training and education needed to be a professional archivist is usually similar to that of a librarian. However, according to the BLS, archivists typically earn $8,260 less annually than librarians. There is a larger difference in the salary data collected from professional associations. The SAA’s A*CENSUS survey found that the average annual salary of archivists is $46,544, this is $9,715 less than the ALA average for librarians.

The 2006 ALA-APA Non-MLS Salary Survey asked participating public and academic libraries to provide salary information specifically for Library Technical Assistants and Clerks. In archives, the average annual salary for Library Technical Assistants was $34,651 and Clerks earned $26,640 in public libraries (see Chart 1). The survey results indicate that both positions earn less in academic libraries. Library Technical Assistants in academic libraries earned an average salary of $31,149 which is $3,502 less than those in public libraries. Clerks in academic libraries earned almost $400 less than those in public libraries.

Chart 1
ALA Average Annual Salaries of Library Technicians and Clerks in Archives and Special Collections

249 Chart 1

Associate Librarians of Archives and Special Collections are non-MLS positions which may perform managerial and administrative duties, according to the ALA-APA Non-MLS Salary Survey. Of these Associate Librarians in public libraries, 128 reported their education levels. Eight reported they had a master’s degree; however, of the 45 in academic libraries who reported their education levels, 12 had master’s degrees and 3 had doctoral degrees.

The average annual salary of Associate Librarians of Archives and Special Collections is $30,329 in public libraries and $40,445 in academic libraries. When these salaries are compared to the SAA & BLS average annual salaries, Archivists (MLS) earn between $16,215 to $10,521 more than Associate Librarians (non-MLS) in public libraries and $6,099 to $405 more than those in academic libraries (see Table 1).

Both MLS and non-MLS positions in archives may perform similar tasks at different professional levels. However, salaries for positions in this field range widely. Average annually salaries for non-MLS positions are less in academic libraries than public libraries. While the BLS data suggests that an archivist earns more than 20 percent less than the average annual salary of a librarian.

Position Definitions–American Library Association

  • Archives and Special Collections (non-MLS positions)  Manages and maintains collection; identifies and appraises records, authenticates, describes, and documents, facilitates access and use, preserves, and conserves, and exhibits collection.
  • 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 used materials following established guidelines. May perform managerial and administrative duties.
  • Library Technical Assistant  Provides basic assistance to patrons referring patrons to Librarian professional assistance. Locates materials and information for patrons. May complete routine copy cataloging. Assists with special programming.
  • Clerk  Performs routine duties required the use of a variety of forms, reports or procedures. Provides basic patron assistance: sets up computer stations, locates materials, provides information. Maintains departmental or area records. Performs miscellaneous clerical duties such as filing, typing, sorting, or photocopying.

Sources

  • Grady, J. & Davis, D. (2006). ALA-APA Non-MLS Salary Survey: A Survey of Library Positions Not Requiring an ALA-Accredited Mater’s Degree. American Library Association – Allied Professional Association.
  • Grady, J. & Davis, D. (2006). ALA Survey of Librarian Salaries. American Library Association – Allied Professional Association.
  • Society of American Archivists. (2005). A*CENSUS. Available at: http://www.archivists.org/a-census/index.asp .
  • U.S. Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2001). Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) System. Available at: http://www.bls.gov/soc/home.htm.

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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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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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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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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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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Librarian Jobs in Colorado Public Libraries, 1990-2004

Is there a librarian shortage or surplus? This is a debatable question. Studies such as the LRS’s Retirement, Retention, and Recruitment: The Future of Librarianship in Colorado describe the high number of librarians who are expected to retire in the next five years. In regard to the profession of librarianship, the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that “Employment of librarians is expected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations over the 2002-12 period. However, job opportunities are expected to be very good because a large number of librarians are expected to retire in the coming decade, creating many job openings. Also, the number of people going into this profession has fallen in recent years, resulting in more jobs than applicants in some cases.”

Ask a graduating LIS student and you might hear a different story. An article written by Rachel Holt and Adrienne Stock for Library Journal examines what they call the “Entry Level Gap.” They mention the relative scarcity of entry level jobs for new graduates. Additionally, they point to a more disturbing trend in the field—the “growing tendency of libraries to hire individuals for staff positions who are not MLS librarians at all.”

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