Improving Salaries/Status

Revised Edition of the Advocating for Better Salaries Toolkit

Improving the Salaries and Status of Library Workers

ALA-APA’s nationwide campaign provides workers with the tools and training that will allow them to reach the goals they have set for themselves and their institutions. Utilize the following ALA-APA resources in your own campaign to raise the salaries and status of library employees.

ALA-APA Salary Surveys – Comprehensive Data

The Library Salary Database has current aggregated salary data for 68 library positions from more than 35,000 individual salaries of actual employees in academic and public libraries in the United States. Ground your salary negotiations in current salary data tailored to your profession. The ALA-APA Salary Surveys offer compensation data for librarians and also for non-MLS positions. Data is arranged by position, organization type and region. The Salary Surveys now available in several formats:

See our Salary Survey Database page for more information.

Salary Surveys and Fact Sheets

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces estimates for the nation as a whole, by state, by metropolitan or nonmetropolitan area, and by industry or ownership. The Bureau of Labor Statistics produces occupational employment and wage estimates for over 450 industry classifications at the national level.

  • Minimum Salaries by State
    Many states have recommended minimum salaries for librarians. Raise the ceiling by raising the floor; use your state’s recommendation to draw attention to low salaries and status in your area of the country.
  • Union Difference for Library Workers
    The Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO analyzed 2006 data from the ALA Salary Survey: Non-MLS – Public and Academic and found that salaries were typically higher for staff in unionized libraries.
  • The ALA-APA Council passed a Living Wage Resolution supporting the annual updating of the $40,000 minimum salary for librarians and recommending a salary of $13 an hour for library workers, also to be updated annually. For 2011, these figures are $42,181/year for professional librarians, and $13.81/hour for library employees.
  • $40,000 Minimum Salary for Librarians Passed by ALA-APA Council in January 2007
    At the American Library Association (ALA) 2007 Midwinter Meeting in Seattle, January 19 – 24, the ALA-Allied Professional Association: the Organization for the Advancement of Library Employees (ALA-APA) Council adopted a resolution to endorse a nonbinding minimum salary for professional librarians. The resolution states that: “over three-quarters of respondent library workers support the establishment of salary minimums for librarians, with the most common salary figure cited being $40,000.” The resolution endorses a minimum salary for professional librarians of not less than $40,000 per year. For 2011, this figure is $42,485/year for professional librarians.
  • State Libraries Collecting and Reporting Salary Data
  • Workplace Wellness Survey Analysis
  • Rural Library Salaries Survey
    ALA-APA and the ALA Office for Literacy and Outreach Services (OLOS) shine light on a long-overlooked area of librarianship – the low salaries and status of library workers in small and rural libraries.
  • Library Workers Salary Fact Sheet
    The Department for Professional Employees, American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (DPE, AFL-CIO) has compiled a list of demographic trends affecting library employment, including diversity, the wage gap and unionization.
  • Professional Women Salary Fact Sheet
    Library workers, predominately female, are underpaid relative to the education required and the complexity of the service we provide. DPE, AFL-CIO outlines gender differences in education, occupational distribution and the “union advantage.”
  • Related Occupational Fact Sheets for Library Workers:
  • Union Wiki
  • Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-2011 edition
    The Median Salary Comparison offered by the Bureau of Labor Statistics offers 2011 median data for library workers and employees in several comparable, many male dominated, fields. The graph below, using information taken from this site, starkly illustrates the differing salaries of comparable fields.


2011 Mean

Minimum Education Requirement

Librarians $57,020 (53,521 ALA-APA Survey) Master’s
Library Technicians


High School Diploma
Library Assistants


High School Diploma
Accountants and Auditors


Administrative Services Managers




Bachelor’s, License


Bookkeeping, Accounting and Auditing Clerks


Civil Engineers


Bachelors, License
Computer Systems Analysts


Customer Service Representatives


High School Diploma
Database Administrators


Bachelor’s, Certification


Education Administrators, Post-secondary




High School Diploma
Paralegals and Legal Assistants


Associate’s, Certificate
Teacher Assistants


High School Diploma
Urban and Regional Planners





Library workers are outspoken when it comes to intellectual freedom and other issues that affect library users, but we have not been nearly as vocal on our own behalf. Our challenge is clear:

  • We must overcome the stereotype of the library worker as the selfless, dedicated and devoted worker, who is in the profession to do good and who will accept any pittance of pay.
  • We must promote a better understanding of what the librarian does. No one will want to pay us more money if they have no idea what education, experience, judgment and special skills it takes for us to do our jobs.
  • We must contribute substantively to the fight for pay equity-it is our fight, too. Women have been discriminated against in a variety of ways, a primary one being compensation.