Workforce

In Your Own Words: The Value of an MLIS

In May 2008, the LRS 60-Second Survey, “The Value of an MLIS to You,” was released, prompted by a 2008 posting on a Colorado-based library listserv that asked a simple question: Would you recommend an MLIS degree to a recent college graduate? Enthusiastic responses to the listserv question from dozens of people inspired the Library Research Service to create its own survey, distributed mostly via listservs and blogs. Almost 2,000 responses from all 50 states and 6 continents were received, and over half included voluntary comments further explaining respondents’ thoughts about the MLIS degree.  Overall, the results of the survey showed that respondents do value the MLIS.  Nine out of ten (89%) respondents said their degree was worth the investment.  However, not quite as many would recommend the degree to others (86%).1 This is a small difference, and it and other subtleties of the responses may be explained in the many thoughtful comments left by respondents.

In reviewing more than 1,000 comments received on the “Value of an MLIS to You” survey, many themes emerged and most fell into 6 categories. These categories were the overall perception of the profession, the job market, the intrinsic value of the degree, personal financial impact, MLIS content, and career advancement. Each comment was tagged with the categories that it covered, and whether the comment was perceived to be positive or negative.

Definition of Comment Categories

  • Perception of the profession: relating to the public’s view and/or appreciation of librarianship
  • Job market: availability of professional positions for MLIS holders and the ease or difficulty in obtaining those positions
  • Intrinsic value: personal values and beliefs related to working in the profession
  • Personal Financial Impact: the cost of the degree and the salaries earned post-degree
  • MLIS content: MLIS degree programs and curriculum
  • Career advancement: the ability to advance in a library career

Many comments mentioned more than 1 theme and were included in multiple categories. Chart 1 shows the number of times a category was mentioned at least once in a comment. Chart 2 shows the number of responses that were perceived as positive and negative in each category. No comments were tagged as both positive and negative within a category, but some respondents did make positive comments in 1 category and negative comments in another category. The overall tone of the comments is analyzed later in this Fast Facts. The categories are discussed in order of most positive response received to least positive response received.
270_Chart 1270_Chart 2

Intrinsic Value
Comments that were categorized as relating to intrinsic value were overwhelmingly positive. Ninety-eight percent (167) were categorized as positive—more so than any other category. The comments in this category were defined as those that mentioned personal values and beliefs.

The intrinsic value of the MLIS degree was regarded positively in multiple respects that included recognizing librarianship as an opportunity to contribute to society and being a part of a profession that is congruous with their value system. Respondents articulated many underlying values, including the defense of intellectual freedom, the search for truth, provision of sound information, and betterment of self and community. Other respondents mentioned that the degree gave them the capacity to shape their interests and talents into a fulfilling career that they love and enjoy. Based on their remarks, most of these respondents implied that job satisfaction has value above monetary compensation.

“For me, the value of the MLIS lies in the feeling of having a fulfilling, important career. Every day I feel as though I am making a difference. The degree was worth the money in the knowledge I have utilized every day alone. If I could go back, I would do it again.”

The few respondents in this category who left comments perceived as being negative expressed personal preferences for paraprofessional work, and a dislike of the role of politics in libraries.

“This degree has allowed me to get a job that I enjoy – that is worth every penny I lost from a higher paying job that I hated.”

Career Advancement
More comments referred to career advancement than any other category. Of the 393 comments related to career advancement, almost 9 out of 10 (89%) were positive. These respondents seemed to feel that the MLIS is essential for a successful career in libraries. Many stated specifically that they had advanced and experienced flexibility in their own career due to the MLIS degree.  For many respondents the value of the MLIS degree is exhibited in the number and type of opportunities available when one has the degree. Some wrote that the degree turned what was formerly just a job into a profession, and others commented on the portability of the degree and the wide range of opportunities available to MLIS graduates. Others mentioned the salary increases that came with the degree as proof of its value.

“It was the only way I could obtain a professional position. Right now, our library is being cut. MLIS positions were saved.”

Some respondents who didn’t have the degree would recommend it for others, but said they chose not to pursue it because it would not bring any career advances or pay increases, often due to personal factors (e.g., the respondent was unable to relocate or the rural library they worked for did not employ degreed librarians).

“I started studying for my MLS when I was 44. I had already worked in libraries for 8 years and wondered if it would be too late for it to make a difference in my career. It has! It opened many professional doors for me and today I am the director of our public library.”

MLIS Content
Comments in this category related to the quality and value of the MLIS degree program and/or coursework. MLIS content was mentioned in 376 comments, making it the second most common theme, and one of the most divisive. Respondents expressed strong opinions, both positive and negative, about the MLIS.

Comments in this category that were perceived as being positive (60%) usually referred to the MLIS degree as an essential foundation that provided theoretical and historical grounding for the profession and contributed to a common culture among librarians.

Some respondents stressed that in order to be successful, the MLIS student would need to pursue practical experience and participate in professional development activities in addition to their formal education.

“Learning the theory behind what we do is important, and is a framework for decisions that we make. I learned about sources and services that I use to this day. A lot of what I learned has changed, and a lot was not even invented (internet, for one), but I’ve been able to adapt because I had the foundation of knowledge.”
“The value of the degree is completely dependent on the experience the student intends to have. Some will treat the MLIS like it is a true graduate degree; others will treat LIS school like it is trade school, or a rite of passage. Some students will leave LIS school with a line for the resume; others will leave with a robust curriculum vitae that will only continue to develop.”

However, 41 percent of comments related to MLIS content were perceived as being negative. These respondents voiced disappointment with their degree programs, criticizing the relevance and academic rigor of their courses. Some felt the curriculum was outdated, and lamented the lack of technology, management, or library instruction courses. Several wrote that the skills they learned on the job were more valuable than the skills they learned in school or negated the need for an MLIS entirely.

“I wouldn’t recommend that someone get a degree, except that it’s a requirement for the job. There is no real content to an MLS degree…the MLS curriculum was really very silly. Not graduate level work at all.”

Job Market
Several respondents voiced frustrations with the job market—their comments were generally perceived as negative. Of the 132 comments tagged as job market, 91 of them were categorized as negative. Many argued that the market is saturated, especially in areas where there are 1 or more library schools. Without additional data, it is impossible to know whether the dearth of job opportunities was real or perceived, but the presence of this theme indicates it is a legitimate concern for those who commented. Some comments explained that the job market is tight especially for those without library experience and for those who are unwilling to relocate for a position. Some mentioned the notion that new librarians have been drawn to the field, due in part to the oft-cited librarian shortage brought about by the large number of librarians expected to retire. Many expressed feelings that the librarian shortage has not materialized and would not materialize any time soon.

A few respondents, however, noted that the variety of career possibilities for graduates made the MLIS a valuable degree, and their comments were often perceived as positive.

“It has been an unbelievably frustrating, sad, disheartening experience to work so hard for a degree with so little economic or professional value. I simply cannot find work, and after 6 years of looking, I am giving up on the field.”
“Marketed effectively, these skills open up many opportunities within the “traditional” boundaries of our profession, as well as outside of those boundaries.”

Personal Financial Impact
Of the 224 comments that mentioned personal financial impact, 77 percent were perceived as negative. Several respondents mentioned the struggle to pay back student loans on librarian salaries; others wrote they would only recommend the degree to someone with significant existing financial support. A few commented that in hindsight they wished they had pursued more lucrative professional degrees, such as business or computer science. Those who referred to personal financial impact in what was perceived to be a positive light usually mentioned salary gains or promotions that came after obtaining the MLIS.

“Given the low wages and poor opportunities for advancement in the field, within my geographic area anyway, I’m questioning whether all the debt I went in to get my MLIS was worth it. And I was one of the lucky ones in my class who got a full-time job shortly after graduation.”
“If you were to judge an MLS on a strictly monetary ROI [return on investment], no one in their right mind would get one… the only thing keeping libraries going is the sincere love for the job that many of us have.”

Perception of the Librarian Profession
Ninety-two comments mentioned the public’s perception of the library profession. More than 5 of 6 reflected a negative perception of the profession (86%). These comments were defined as those that discussed the public view of librarians and/or the MLIS.

Many respondents wrote of a general lack of understanding of a librarian’s educational background and role in the community.  Some comments perceived as negative in this category discussed the low pay of some MLIS graduates as a constant reminder that the public does not have a particularly positive perception of librarians, if they have any perception at all. Some noted a recent rise in staffing paraprofessionals in librarian roles and felt this practice diminishes the value of the degree in the eyes of the public and the eyes of MLIS graduates. According to some respondents, librarians are individually and collectively responsible for promoting their own professional value to the public and have disregarded this responsibility in the past.

The few positive comments in this category mentioned the value of the degree in the eyes of library directors and trustees. These respondents wrote that the degree demonstrated a commitment to libraries, life-long learning, communities, and one’s own career and education. Only a couple of respondents stated that they felt respected and appreciated by the public.

“The perception the degree carries with potential employers, especially public library trustees, is of more value than the practical skills taught in pursuit of the degree.”
“I love being a librarian, but I am disappointed that librarians have such a low level of recognition by the community. Unlike teachers, our profile as perceived by the public has never changed. I think that is the main reason that libraries are the first department or institution cut when money tightens up. We need to do a much better job clarifying what we do that helps the community. We do much more and our libraries offer more than people realize. We need to make libraries indispensable to the communities.”

Conclusion
In the more than 1,000 comments left by respondents, many lauded the degree and profession in 1 or more categories. About 43 percent of comments had a positive tone only and 28 percent had a “mixed” tone, meaning the comment had both a positive and negative tone. Less than 1 in 5 respondents (19%) had a negative only comment (see Chart 3.)  Just over 100 comments were not applicable to this analysis and were labeled “unrelated.” These comments were either personal comments or too vague to infer meaning.

270_Chart 3

The positive comments reflected on a love of the profession, the necessity of the MLIS for career advancement, and an overall belief that the MLIS program content provides a fundamental foundation of knowledge to thrive in the profession.

The negative comments acknowledged concern with the job market, post-MLIS personal financial impact, and the perception of the profession. These concerns caused hesitation for respondents in recommending the MLIS degree to others. However, many respondents who mentioned negatives also made positive comments in other categories.

There are two sides to the value of an MLIS degree “coin” and it is necessary to examine both the positives and negatives. The comments indicate that librarians clearly value the MLIS degree. At the same time, they have many real-life concerns. Armed with this knowledge, library leaders and library educators can advocate more effectively for librarians and enhance the value of the degree for all.

“Repeat after me: I will be cognizant of realistic expectations (salary, daily activities, career advancement/opportunities, freebies etc) in my chosen career – libraries or otherwise – my interests and desired location must match supply and demand for a realistic match – a sense of entitlement won’t get me a job, much less one I really think I should have – choosing among my options carefully, and with work and some good fortune, will increase my chances of a having a great career I love!”

Colorado Public Librarian Salaries Keeping Pace with National Averages

Librarian salaries in Colorado’s larger public libraries are keeping pace with national averages, according to data collected by the Library Research Service and the American Library Association’s (ALA) annual salary survey.

267 Chart 1

Salaries for managers/supervisors in Colorado libraries were nearly equal to the national average. Salaries for all other positions lagged behind the national statistics by an average of about $900 annually (see Chart 1).

The ALA survey found librarian salaries nationwide gained 2.8 percent between 2006 and 2007 for all positions in public libraries of all sizes. In Colorado libraries serving populations of 25,000 or more, salaries for all positions increased an average of 5.6 percent between 2006 and 2007.

Note: The averages used in this article were calculated using average salaries reported by LRS and the ALA salary survey for libraries serving populations 25,000 and more. In 2007, 26 public libraries in Colorado served populations more than 25,000. Because job duties and descriptions in smaller libraries tend to vary widely and are therefore more difficult to compare, smaller libraries were not included in this analysis.

Sources

  • Grady, J. & Davis, D. (2008). 2008 ALA-APA Salary Survey: Librarian – Public and Academic. American Library Association – Allied Professional Association.
  • Library Research Service. (2008). 2007 Colorado Public Library Annual Report (Survey). www.lrs.org/public/stats.php?year=2007.

More School Librarians for Metro Areas, Fewer for Non-Metro

Colorado has experienced tremendous population growth over the last several years, and the number of students attending Colorado schools has increased along with the population. On the surface, it appears that the rise in the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) school librarians—as defined by NCES—has kept up with and even surpassed the rise in the student population. However, a closer look reveals that the increase in librarians is primarily benefiting metropolitan-area students.2

Figures reported by school districts and collected by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)3 indicate that the state’s schools saw an overall increase of 10 percent in the number of students from 1999 to 2005. The number of FTE school librarians in schools grew 15 percent in that same time period (see Table 1).

NCES Data and Definitions
Each year the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) collects data for the Common Core of Data (CCD). This collection is conducted by state education agencies and includes data reported by all public schools and districts in the U.S. The data presented here is from the CCD and is used to describe the number of librarians in Colorado’s schools and districts.

Accordingly, the definition of a librarian used throughout this Fast Facts is the NCES definition: “A professional staff member or supervisor assigned specific duties and school time for professional library services activities. These include selecting, acquiring, preparing, cataloging, and circulating books and other printed materials; planning the use of the library by students, teachers, and instructional staff; and guiding individuals in the use of library books and material maintained separately or as a part of an instructional materials center.”4

Note, this definition does not differentiate between positions requiring a Colorado Department of Education school librarian endorsement and those not requiring such credentials.

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As would be expected, there is a disparity in population increases between metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas of Colorado. In metropolitan areas, student population has increased nearly 12 percent. In non-metropolitan areas, the number of students has increased only 1 percent (see Table 2).

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Districts Without Librarians
Despite this rise in number of students and librarians over this 6 year period, there was an increase in the number of school districts without any school librarians, rising from 39 such districts in 1999 to 51 in 2005. However, as a group metropolitan districts were not affected by this trend. In fact, the number of districts in metropolitan areas without a school librarian dropped from 8 to 5. Whereas, the number of districts outside of metropolitan areas without a librarian increased by almost 50 percent, from 31 to 46 (see Table 3).

264_Table 3

This can be seen graphically on a map of school districts in Figure 1. The shaded districts are those without school librarians as reported by the school districts in 2005 (see NCES Data and Definitions, page 1).

264_Image 1

264_Figure 1

This trend is mirrored when we look at the number of FTE librarians per 1,000 students in metropolitan versus non-metropolitan areas. The ratio of librarians per student in metropolitan school districts grew 9 percent between 1999 and 2005. In non-metropolitan areas that number actually fell 11 percent (see Table 4).

264_Table 4

These figures indicate a troubling trend for school libraries in non-metropolitan areas. It appears that gains made in the number of school librarians are only in school districts near large urban areas. As various studies5 have shown that students at schools with well-developed school library programs fare better on standardized tests, it is important to not take the loss of these library positions for granted.

Libraryjobline.org – The First Year

In January 2008 the Colorado State Library Jobline celebrated its first anniversary at its new home, www.LibraryJobline.org. The new Library Jobline, unlike the original website, is database driven and gathers detailed information about job postings. This new interface allows both employers and job seekers to customize their use of the site. In addition, it allows for the compilation of data about job vacancies, including number of postings, library type, educational requirements, and reason for the position vacancy. This report examines some of this data based on the 552 jobs posted to Library Jobline in 2007.

Features of LibraryJobline.org

  • Customizable email & RSS notification of new jobs
  • Searchable job postings (current and archives)
  • Map of job locations
  • Hot Jobs – list of the most viewed posts

Jobs by Type of Library
Of all library types, public libraries posted the most job openings on Library Jobline with nearly 2 out of 3 listings (61%). This is not particularly surprising, given that public libraries employ more staff than any other library type.6 Academic libraries were a distant second with fewer than 1 in 5 of the jobs posted (17%), followed by special (9%), school (8%), and institutional (5%) libraries. Seven postings indicated more than one library type (see Chart 1).

257_Chart 1

Postings from school libraries comprised a smaller percentage (8%) on Jobline than public, academic, or special libraries, in spite of being the second largest employer of library staff. This relatively low proportion can be attributed to school library postings being more likely to include multiple positions in one listing and school districts’ tendency to post job vacancies internally or on school job websites (e.g., TeachinColorado.org). Nevertheless, school library positions are some of the most searched on the Jobline. As of this writing, the most viewed job post in 2008 was for a Teacher-Librarian position at Denver Public Schools.7

Jobs by MLS Degree Requirements
A master’s degree was required at varying levels among different library types. Public, school, and special libraries required an ALA-accredited MLS degree for about one-third of the jobs they posted. Academic libraries required the degree most frequently, with nearly half of positions posted indicating the degree was required. However, special and public libraries were much more likely to prefer an MLS degree than were academic libraries. For all 3 of these library types, more than half of the jobs posted either required or preferred a master’s degree (see Chart 2).

When listing jobs, school libraries were given the option of “MLS required,” but not the option of “preferred education” because of the unique educational and licensing requirements for endorsed “school librarian” and “teacher-librarian” positions. These positions require a Colorado Department of Education school library endorsement, which includes a teacher license as well as a library science education.8

257_Chart 2

Reason for Vacancies
Employers posting to Library Jobline were asked the reason for the job vacancy. Of those who responded to this query, nearly half said the opening was created by a resignation (46%). Far fewer indicated they were trying to fill openings created by promotions (17%) or due to retirements (12%). A surprising and heartening 1 in 4 jobs listed were new positions (25%). Such a high rate of new openings suggests a continued demand for librarians in the Internet age (see Chart 3).

257_Chart 3

New Jobs and Spanish-Language Skills
Spanish-language skills were important in new positions posted on Library Jobline. A third of new jobs indicated a preference for such abilities (33%). This contrasts with a preference for Spanish skills in 1 out of 5 vacancies for existing jobs (20%). Given the changing demographics of Colorado, this increased demand to serve the Spanish-speaking public makes sense. The U.S. Census Bureau’s 2006 American Community Survey indicates that the number of Spanish-speaking Coloradans age 5 and older jumped from 363,723 in 2000 to 545,112 in 2006, an increase of 50 percent.9

Library Workforce Trends
The first year of the new Colorado State Library Jobline gives us a brief glimpse into the types of jobs being posted for library staff. Notably, there continue to be new jobs created in the field, a master’s degree still seems to be relevant, and the desire for Spanish-speaking employees appears to be desirable in new positions. The real power of the new Jobline site, though, lies a few years down the road. As we harvest more information over time we will be able to follow trends in the job market and view a more complete picture of how the library workforce landscape is changing.

For more information on posting a job or viewing current job openings, see www.LibraryJobline.org.

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.10 In their annual salary survey, ALA defines a professional librarian as an individual with a master’s degree from an ALA-accredited program.11

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.”12 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.13

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*CENSUS14 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.

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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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