Postings for library jobs continued their upward trajectory in 2015, according to LRS’s popular library job posting website, LibraryJobline.org. In 2015, 656 jobs were posted—the most ever since the service’s launch in 2007—and almost 3 times that of 2009’s low of 228 postings. Average hourly salaries for Academic ($21.79) and Public ($20.80) library positions were at an all time high, though the average salary for School libraries ($16.62) fell by 20% since its high in 2012 ($20.74). Read on to learn more about how the rest of 2015 shaped up.
Library jobs have officially recovered from the Great Recession, according to LRS’s popular library job posting website, LibraryJobline.org. In 2014, 615 jobs were posted—the most ever since the service’s launch in 2007—and more than twice that of 2009’s 228 jobs, a site low. We also saw the highest average starting wages for positions preferring the MLIS ($24.45 per hour) and requiring the MLIS ($25.31 per hour). Read on to learn more about how the rest of 2014 shaped up.
As the country slowly recovers from the latest economic recession, librarians and future librarians are looking to salary comparisons to better understand their current and potential earnings. The ALA-APA Salary Survey provides this information annually for positions requiring an ALA-accredited master’s degree. Here, we take a look at some of the highlights from this survey:
Click here for a printable version of this graphic.
For more information, see our Fast Facts, “2012 U.S. Academic Librarian Salaries: The West & Southwest Region Remains Competitive.”
The West/Southwest region includes the following states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.
*Insufficient data for this category.
An examination of data from Library Jobline, a job-posting website operated by the Library Research Service, provides insight into Colorado’s library job climate. The data from 2012 shows that, for the third year in a row, the number of employment opportunities in the field has increased, but the level of compensation for professional-level library positions1 has decreased slightly since 2011.
In 2012, 393 library positions were posted to Library Jobline, thus continuing the upward trend since 2009, when the number was just 228 (Chart 1).2 On average, 33 library positions were posted to Library Jobline each month during 2012. Compared with other months, June saw the most postings (49), whereas April saw the fewest (25).
Library Jobline’s website redesign in early 2012 may have contributed to the influx in its subscriptions. An additional 97 employers registered with Library Jobline in 2012—an increase of 19 percent over the previous year—which brought the total number of registered employers to 602. The number of registered job seekers rose by 44 percent, or 729 members, which propelled Library Jobline’s total number of registered job seekers to almost 2,400.
Despite sizeable increases in the number of job postings and the number of registered job seekers, LibraryJobline.org experienced less traffic in 2012 than in the previous two years. In 2012, Library Jobline postings were viewed 521,655 times—down more than 100,000 views from 2011, and more than 200,000 views from 2010. Curiously, more than one-third (37%) of the 2012 views were of jobs that were posted prior to 2012.
The diminished traffic might be partially attributed to job seekers’ reliance on alternative notification channels. By the end of 2012, Library Jobline (@libraryjobline) had accrued 345 Twitter followers (up from 202 at the end of 2011), and tweeted 616 times—159 times more than in 2011. Additionally, Library Jobline generated 272,243 email notifications in 2012, and individual RSS feeds were accessed 64,737 times.3
Requirements and Preferences
About one-fifth (21%) of the Library Jobline postings for 2012 specified that a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree was required—a decrease from 2011, when one-third (33%) required one (Table 1). An additional 15 percent of job postings in 2012 specified a preference for candidates with an MLIS degree, compared with 13 percent in 2011. The remaining 64 percent either specified that an MLIS degree was not required, or simply included no information about it. The percentage of job postings that listed additional requirements and/or preferences changed little from 2011.
Compared to 2011, the average starting hourly wage decreased by $0.34 per hour for Library Jobline postings that specified the requirement of an MLIS/MLS degree, and $0.67 per hour for those that listed it as a preference (Chart 2). Conversely, the average starting hourly wage for postings that did not require an MLIS/MLS degree increased by $0.66 per hour. Although this may be unsettling for those who choose to pursue MLIS/MLS degrees, it is too soon to determine whether the decline in compensation for professional-level library jobs since 2011 is a trend.
Library Jobline’s 2012 data offers mixed messages about Colorado’s library job climate. The number of employment opportunities listed with Library Jobline has steadily increased since 2009, and offers hope that it might soon reach pre-recession levels. Unfortunately, average starting hourly wages for library positions posted with Library Jobline do not demonstrate the same upward trend.
Indeed, 5 years of data suggest that starting wages are stagnant overall. Job seekers can likely expect more opportunities for Colorado library employment in the coming years; however, they should not count on higher levels of compensation.
LibraryJobline.org, an online resource maintained by the Library Research Service (LRS) at the Colorado State Library, lists job postings from employers in Colorado and beyond.4 Library Jobline dates back to 2007, offering 5 years’ worth of statistics about Colorado’s library job climate.
An analysis of Library Jobline statistics over time, in conjunction with data gathered from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the American Library Association (ALA), and Library Journal, indicates slight improvements to the library job climate in 2011. This Fast Facts addresses these improvements as they pertain to the number of job postings, full-time positions, and starting salaries, and provides current job seekers with reason to feel cautiously optimistic about their quests to find library jobs.
Quick Look: 2011 Library Jobline Statistics
- Registered employers: 505
- Registered job seekers: 1,663
- Twitter followers (@LibraryJobline): 224
- New job postings: 334
In 2011, more than 500 employers and 1,600 job seekers—223 of whom joined in 2011—were registered with Library Jobline. Almost two-thirds (63%) of those job seekers were signed up to receive email notifications of new job postings, and another 656 job seekers (39%) had opted into a custom RSS feed to stay abreast of the latest library job opportunities. Library job seekers can also monitor Library Jobline postings via Twitter; in 2011, @LibraryJobline had accrued 224 followers.
Job Postings Continue to Rise
Since bottoming out in 2009, the number of annual Library Jobline postings rose 43 percent in 2011, from 233 to 334 (see Chart 1). March, May, and June saw the most job postings, or an average of 35 new jobs per month, whereas January, September, and November were the worst months for job seekers, with an average of only 19 new postings per month. As compared to previous years, the monthly average of 26 postings per month is the highest since 2008, which saw an average of 35 new jobs per month.
The number of times that Library Jobline postings were viewed overall decreased slightly in 2011, from an all-time high of 728,024 in 2010 to 651,599—a difference of 10 percent (see Chart 2). In addition, the number of views per job posting also dropped by almost 30 percent, from an average of 2,757 in 2010 to 1,951 in 2011. While this shift could signify a healthier job market, in which fewer people are looking for open positions, it might also be attributed to the rise in the number of Library Jobline users who receive news about available positions via customized emails, RSS feed, or Twitter, rather than by accessing those postings directly from LibraryJobline.org.
Requirements and Preferences
Across all 2011 Library Jobline postings, one third (33%) required applicants to have an ALA-accredited Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree or Master of Library Science (MLS) degree. Another 12 percent of jobs preferred candidates who had an MLIS or MLS degree. The remaining 54 percent of job postings did not require an MLIS or MLS degree.
Entry-level library job seekers may be relieved to know that in 2011, only 1 in 4 Library Jobline postings specifically required 1 or more years of library experience, and only 1 in 5 stated experience as a preference. More than 80 percent of employers did not require professional-level library experience, and 11 percent listed professional-level experience as a preference. Just 1 in 10 postings (38 in total) required 1 or more years of supervisory experience, while another 11 percent preferred it.
More than one-fifth (22%) of all 2011 postings gave preference to candidates with Spanish-language skills, and 2 percent made Spanish a requirement.
Full-Time and Permanent Postings
While just over half (53%) of job postings in 2010 were full-time positions, nearly 62 percent of 2011 postings to Library Jobline were for 40-hour-per-week positions. Only 21 postings, a mere 6 percent, were for temporary positions.
2011’s Hot Jobs
These LibraryJobline.org postings were viewed more than any others in 2011:
- 5,190 views: Librarian, Colorado Heights University. Part-time, starting salary $15-20/hour, MLIS not required
- 3,967 views: Manager of Library Services, The Children’s Hospital. Full-time, starting salary not specified, MLIS not required
- 3,067 views: Library manager, Denver Museum of Nature & Science. Full-time, starting salary not specified, MLIS required
In 2011, the average starting salary for professional positions was $24 per hour, which was equal to the starting salary for professional positions in 2010, but still down from the $24.50 average in 2009 (see Chart 3). Wages for positions which did not require an MLIS continued to climb for the third year in a row.
Related National Data
In 2010, the median annual wage for a librarian, according to BLS,5was $54,500 annually, or an hourly rate of $26.50. Whereas data from the 2010 ALA-APA Salary Survey6 (the most recent year available) shows an average starting salary of $48,317 annually, or $23.23 per hour. For recent LIS graduates—notably not all librarians—Library Journal’s “Placements & Salaries Survey 2011”7 reports an average starting salary of $42,566, or $20.46 per hour. Although these data points are valuable in evaluating current and potential salaries for librarian positions, caution should be exercised in comparing them to each other or to Library Jobline data, as they represent different data sets and geographic areas.
Data collected from Library Jobline shows modest improvement in 2011 for Colorado’s library job market, as marked by an increase in job postings. Starting salaries for positions that required an MLS/MLIS remained stable, and they improved slightly for those jobs that did not require an MLIS. While restoring hope for both library job seekers and employers, this information demonstrates that despite some signs of recovery the job market has not fully recuperated.
In May 2011, librarians, library staff, and library school students weighed in on the LRS 60-Second Survey The Value of an MLIS Degree to You. Almost 2,500 people from every state and 15 countries, representing all library types, responded. Around 1,300 respondents left comments, sharing additional thoughts on the value of the MLIS degree today.
In the style of an online readers’ poll, LRS’s 60-Second Surveys are short and to the point. Narrow by intent, these surveys capture the perceptions of respondents on a single timely topic. The online surveys are publicized through local, regional, and national library listservs, blogs, etc., and as a result most respondents have some connection to the library profession.
When asked if they thought their MLIS degree was/is worth the time and money invested in it, 4 in 5 respondents (79%) strongly agreed or agreed that their degree was worth the investment (see Chart 1). Eleven percent of respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement, and 10 percent were “neutral.”
Respondents who have had their MLIS degree the longest were more likely to indicate that the time and money invested in the MLIS was worth it (see Chart 2). Nine out of 10 (92%) respondents who have had their MLIS for 16+ years strongly agreed or agreed that the degree was worth the investment. Almost 90 percent of respondents who have had their degrees for 11-15 years strongly agreed or agreed that the investment in the MLIS degree was worth it, as did 80 percent of respondents who have had their degrees for 6-10 years. While around two-thirds of newer professionals felt that their investment in the degree was worthwhile, they were less likely to strongly agree and were more likely to be neutral or disagree. Respondents who completed their degree 1-5 years ago were the most likely to indicate that the degree was not worth the time and money they invested in it.
Survey respondents also indicated whether or not they would recommend pursuing an MLIS degree if asked today. Almost two-thirds of respondents (63%) would recommend pursuing the MLIS degree, with one-fourth of respondents indicating they would “highly recommend” the degree (see Chart 3). Close to 1 in 6 respondents would not recommend pursuing the degree, and 7 percent would actively dissuade others from pursuing it. Around 14 percent of the respondents said that they were not sure if they would recommend the degree if asked.
An analysis of respondents’ comments offered insights into why respondents would or would not recommend the MLIS degree. Comments were grouped into the following 6 categories and could be coded in more than 1 category (see Chart 5):
- MLIS content: Any reference to MLIS (or equivalent) degree programs and curriculum, including knowledge and skills and/or the need to supplement with additional degrees or experience.
- Career advancement: Any reference to the ability to advance in a library career, including the degree being a requirement.
- Job market: Any reference to the availability of professional positions for MLIS holders and the ease or difficulty in obtaining those positions.
- Personal financial impact: Any reference to the cost of the degree and the salaries earned post-degree.
- Intrinsic value: Any reference to personal values and beliefs related to working in the profession.
- Perception of the profession: Any reference to the public’s or government/policy makers’ view and/or appreciation of librarianship.
Comments were also coded as positive, negative, or neutral/mixed in tone (see Chart 6). Respondents commented predominantly negatively on the job market, the cost of the degree, and the perception of the profession, but they were more upbeat about the degree’s intrinsic value and possibilities for career advancement. Comments relating to MLIS content were the most ambivalent in tone.
The Value of an MLIS to You 60-second survey showed that a majority of respondents would both recommend the degree to others today (63%) and agree that the MLIS is worth the investment of time and money (79%). While a sizeable chunk of respondents would be reluctant to recommend the degree or to say that the MLIS retains its value today, their comments show that any hesitations about recommending the degree stem largely from a weak job market, the financial burden of education, concerns about the content and delivery of LIS curriculum, and a generally negative perception of the profession by the public. Yet, comments about the intrinsic, non-monetary awards of the librarianship, and about opportunities for career advancement, compensate for these drawbacks, especially for those who have had their degrees for more than 15 years. As 1 survey respondent articulated: “Every day I go to work excited about what I do, whether it’s doing story time, visiting classes, doing readers advisory for our patrons or teaching classes to the staff and public, I feel like what I do matters to the quality of life of our individual patrons and to the vibrancy of our community.”
For a more detailed analysis of this survey and respondents’ comments, as well as a comparison to LRS’s 2008 Value of an MLIS survey, see the Closer Look Report at: http://www.lrs.org/documents/closer_look/MLIS_Value_Closer_Look_Report.pdf.
The 2010 Public Library Annual Report (PLAR) produced by the Library Research Service and the 2010 ALA-APA Salary Survey published by the American Library Association-Allied Professional Association both provide windows into the compensation earned by library professionals. Both the PLAR and the ALA-APA Salary Survey collect and publish salary data about similar library positions (see below), and classify libraries by size according to the same guidelines.8 Yet, the 2 reports vary significantly in other respects. The ALA-APA Salary Survey draws data from a sample of libraries nationally, and reports this information at the national, regional, and state levels, whereas the PLAR takes its data from a census of Colorado public libraries. Despite these differences, looking at the 2 reports side-by-side yields insights about the spectrum of salaries for public library professionals in Colorado and nationally.
The 2010 ALA-APA Salary Survey
Comparing national data averages, librarians in medium and large libraries make less than librarians in very large libraries, but the difference is fairly small for non-supervising librarians, managers/supervisors, and department heads (see Chart 1). There is a difference of less than 15 percent between the medium and very large libraries within these job categories. For example, managers/supervisors in very large libraries make 8 percent more than managers in medium libraries. However, for assistant directors and directors the variance is much greater, with directors making two-thirds more in very large public libraries than in medium libraries (68%).
• Non-Supervising Librarians: Librarians who do not supervise.
• Manager/Supervisor: Individuals who supervise staff in any part of the library but do not supervise librarians with MLS degrees.
• Department Heads, Coordinators, Senior Managers: Individuals who supervise one or more librarians with MLS degrees.
• Associate Directors: Individuals who report to the Director and manage major aspects of the library operation.
• Directors: Chief Officers of libraries or library systems.
The 2010 Colorado Public Library Annual Report (PLAR)
Unlike the ALA-APA survey, the PLAR gathers the high and low salaries for non-supervising librarians, managers/supervisors, department heads, and associate directors from all public libraries in Colorado, with 3 very large, 9 large, and 14 medium public libraries reporting data. (Note that directors’ salaries are represented by only 1 figure per library, not a range.)
Several patterns emerge from this data (see Chart 2). For one, the differences between low and high salaries, across all positions, are more drastic in very large public libraries than in medium and large public libraries. For example, in medium public libraries, high-end salaries for managers/supervisors are 30 percent higher than low-end salaries, and in large public libraries, high-end salaries for managers/supervisors are 36 percent more than low-end salaries, whereas in very large public libraries, this difference is the most extreme, with managers/supervisors at the high-end of the scale earning more than twice as much as non-supervising librarians.
Comparing professional salaries in medium, large, and very large public libraries across Colorado, pay rates in very large libraries generally trump those in medium and large libraries. Yet, this trend is not true of low-end salaries for librarians and managers/supervisors, who tend to earn more in medium and large public libraries than in very large public libraries.
Despite obvious differences between the PLAR and ALA-APA Salary survey data, some comparisons between the two are inevitable. These show that, on average, directors in Colorado tend to make less than directors nationally. Salaries for other library positions in Colorado are more evenly matched to the national averages, with the mean salaries for the nation generally falling between the average high and low salaries in Colorado. The 2010 PLAR and ALA-APA Salary Survey data also show that in Colorado and across the nation, library professionals in very large and large public libraries tend to earn more than their peers in medium public libraries.
In September 2010, the New York Times published an article about the privatization of public libraries.9 This article described the trend in some communities to turn over the management of public libraries to a private organization. In response to this article, library staff around the United States engaged in spirited online discussions about whether libraries should be privatized.
Taking notice of these discussions, the Library Research Service (LRS), a unit of the Colorado State Library, launched a 60-Second Survey in November 2010 to get the library community’s opinions about privatization. A total of 2,509 people from every state and 15 countries responded, making this the most popular 60-Second Survey yet. In addition, 59 percent of respondents (1,485) left additional comments, making it even more clear that this is a topic of great interest to library professionals and other stakeholders.
Given an either/or choice, survey respondents overwhelmingly sided with public sector management, with 86 percent agreeing with a statement that management should remain in the public sector so that profit does not become libraries’ primary objective. The other 14 percent agreed that management should be privatized if it means that libraries can do a better job of providing services and materials to patrons at lower costs.
Survey respondents also identified whether they thought public or private sector management was more likely, or equally likely, to achieve a list of outcomes for public libraries. Public sector management scored the highest, by far, on all outcomes but two: reducing operating costs and making library operations more efficient. In these areas, respondents were closely split among the three answer choices, with around 1 in 3 voting for each (the public sector, the private sector, or both as equally likely to achieve these outcomes) (see Chart 1).
At least 3 in 4 respondents identified public sector management as the best way to improve the quality of library services, increase the relevance of libraries’ collections, employ qualified staff to meet community needs, and protect patron privacy (see Chart 2). Public sector management drew even more support—from nearly 9 out of 10 respondents (88%)—when they considered the library’s ability to serve all the members of its community and the strength of the library’s connection to the community it serves.
More than half (53%) the respondents indicated that a public library should be run like a public service rather than a business, but a sizeable percentage (42%) said it should be run like both (see Chart 3). Just 2 percent thought that a public library should be run like a business.
Eight in 10 (82%) respondents thought that privatization would have a negative impact on library staff’s job security and benefits or retirement plans (see Chart 4). While the majority (66%) thought the negative impact would also extend to job prospects for degreed librarians, a higher percentage were unsure of the potential impact (17%) or thought privatization would have no impact on job prospects (9%).
An analysis of the survey comments showed that nearly three-fourths (73%) contained pro-public management sentiments, while close to one-fourth (23%) were either pro-private or discussed alternatives to the black-and-white, public-versus-private debate. For example, several respondents suggested incorporation as a private, nonprofit entity (such as the New York Public Library) or implementation of business practices into libraries’ current management structures.
Results from this study indicate that the library community, as represented by the survey respondents, has serious concerns about the impact of privatization on public libraries. For further discussion of these results, see the article “Who’s the boss? Does privatization have a place in public libraries?”10 in American Libraries.
At a time when unemployed academic librarians worry about the prospects of finding a job, many employed librarians face cuts in pay or hours and wonder how their salaries compare to those of other librarians in similar positions across the country. Using the 2010 American Library Association-Allied Professional Association (ALA-APA) Salary Survey11data, this Fast Facts compares the average academic librarian salaries in the West and Southwest region,12 which includes Colorado, to the salaries of academic librarians in all regions. These regional comparisons are broken down by type of academic institution and job category,13 so that a total of 18 comparisons are presented.
University library directors in the West and Southwest region are the highest paid academic librarians. They averaged a yearly salary of $140,456 in 2010 (see Chart 1).
That figure is 16 percent more than the average reported for university directors in all regions, and 97 percent more than the national average salary of a director at a two-year college. Similarly, university deputy, associate, or assistant directors in this region were the highest paid librarians in their job category. Their average salary was 14 percent higher than those in all regions.
The West and Southwest region also has the highest average salary for department head/coordinator/senior manager positions; this position at a two-year college has an average salary that is 26 percent higher than the national average (see Chart 2). Yet that same position and region also has the lowest average salary at a four-year college, making 17 percent less per year, compared with all regions. The manager/supervisor of support staff category in the West and Southwest follows this trend, with those at two-year colleges making the highest average salary in this category, and those at four-year colleges making the lowest average salary. In fact, four-year colleges pay the lowest average salaries in every job category except beginning librarian.
For the job category “librarians who do not supervise,” the highest average salary is for librarians in the West and Southwest region in two-year colleges (see Chart 3). Similarly, beginning librarians at two-year colleges in this region make the highest average salary of all academic institutions in this job category.
In 2010, the West and Southwest remained a competitive region for academic librarian salaries. Academic librarians in the West and Southwest received higher salaries than the national average in 11 of the 18 comparisons reported here. This was particularly the case in two-year colleges; academic librarians in the West and Southwest who worked in this type of institution reported the highest average salaries in each job category except director/assistant director.