Many Academic and Public Librarian Positions Face Wage Decline; Inflation Erodes Salary Gains for Many Others

By Jamie Bragg

Results of the 2008 ALA-APA Salary Survey: Librarian – Public and Academic (Librarian Salary Survey) indicate that real salary gains of recent years might be endangered by rising inflation. According to the surveys, the mean salary of librarians did not outpace inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index.

According to the 2008 Librarian Salary Survey, the mean librarian salary rose to $58,960, an increase of $1,151 from 2007. Significantly, this increase of 2.0 percent was half that of the Consumer Price Index for the same time period: 4.0 percent (February 2008).

In collecting data on six positions requiring a Master’s Degree in Library Science (MLS), the Librarian Salary Survey included 16,258 individual salaries ranging from $22,000 to $331,200 with a mean of $58,960 ($57,809 in 2007).

The average salary increase of public librarians (2.7 percent) was outpaced by inflation (4.0 percent). According to Table 1, only one of the six surveyed positions saw a salary increase that exceeded the rise of inflation: Director/Dean/Chief Officer (11.9 percent). Four other positions saw modest gains which were fully eroded by inflation: Beginning Librarian (3.1 percent), Manager/Supervisor of Support Staff (1.7 percent), Department Head/Branch Manager/Coordinator/Senior Manager and Librarian Who Does Not Supervise (both 0.8 percent). The salary of one position, Deputy/Associate/Assistant Director, actually decreased by 2.1 percent.

Academic librarians, however, fared worse. Table 2 indicates that salaries of academic librarians were largely stagnant. The mean salaries of three of the six positions actually decreased: most dramatic was that of the Beginning Academic Librarian, whose salary diminished by 7.1 percent. Following the Beginning Academic Librarian are Department Head/Branch Manager/Coordinator/Senior Manager, with a salary decline of 5.9 percent, and Librarian Who Does Not Supervise, which saw a small loss of one half of a percent. However, two positions enjoyed salary increases that exceeded inflation: Director/Dean/Chief Officer (6.4 percent) and Manager/Supervisor of Support Staff (5.2 percent).

Results:

As stated previously, for all six categories and both academic and public libraries combined, the average salary was $58,960, up 2.0 percent from 2007, and the median was $53,521, a one percent increase from the 2007 median.

Table 1.  Rank Order of Position Types by Mean of Salaries Paid, Public Libraries, Comparison 2007 and 2008

 

PUBLIC Regional Salary Data, 2007

PUBLIC Regional Salary Data, 2008

Difference in Mean Salaries, $

Difference in Mean Salaries, %

N (2008)

Director/Dean/Chief Officer

77,200

86,354

9,154

11.86

584

Beginning Librarian

41,334

42,601

1,267

3.07

826

Manager/Supervisor of Support Staff

50,722

51,594

872

1.72

1,596

Department Head/Branch Manager/Coordinator/Senior Manager

60,327

60,835

508

0.84

3,508

Librarian Who Does Not Supervise

47,772

48,167

395

0.83

4,570

Deputy/Associate/Assistant Director

74,942

73,385

-1,557

-2.08

624

Total

 

 

 

 

11,707

Table 2. Rank Order of Position Types by Mean of Salaries Paid, Academic Libraries, Comparison 2007 and 2008

 

ACADEMIC Regional Salary Data, 2007

ACADEMIC Regional Salary Data, 2008

Difference in Mean Salaries, $

Difference in Mean Salaries, %

N (2008)

Director/Dean/Chief Officer

88,902

94,567

5,665

6.37

389

Deputy/Associate/Assistant Director

77,372

80,062

2,690

5.25

528

Department Head/Branch Manager/Coordinator/Senior Manager

65,270

61,412

-3,858

-5.91

451

Librarian Who Does Not Supervise

54,959

54,684

-275

-0.50

2,289

Manager/Supervisor of Support Staff

51,666

54,376

2,710

5.25

615

Beginning Librarian

48,365

44,917

-3,448

-7.13

279

Total

 

 

 

 

4,551

Methodology and Response Rate

The 2008 survey elicited 21 percent greater response than did the 2007 survey. Table 3 notes that the 2008 survey was sent to the same number of libraries as was the 2007 survey (3,484). However, of those 3,484 recipients, 1,010 completed the 2008 survey (29 percent), as opposed to 834 respondents in 2007 (24 percent), when it was combined with a survey of Non-MLS position salaries. We will continue to assess how to increase the response rate to previous levels, although the rate is satisfactory for a national survey and regional data is typically statistically significant.

Table 3. Response Rates, 2000-2008

Year and Survey

Sample

Responses

Response Rate %

2008 – Librarian

3,484

1,010

29

2007 – Librarian and Non-MLS combined

3,484

834

24

2006 – Librarian

3,418

1,053

31

2006 – Non-MLS

3,418

836

24

2005 – Librarian

4,343*

2,058

47

2004 – Librarian

1,275

881

69

2003 – Librarian

1,268

901

72

2002 – Librarian

1,320

924

70

2001 – Librarian

1,297

866

67

2000 – Librarian

1,294

931

72

*Survey sample expanded to include state-level data.

Table 4 shows that Very Large public libraries had the highest response rate at 71 percent, an improvement of 10 percent over 2007.  Medium public library response improved 12 points to 33 percent.  The largest increase was in Large public libraries, which had a 28 percent response rate in 2007, compared with 49 percent this year.  Very Small public libraries response rate dipped six points to 16 percent this year.

University response rates rose six points to 32 percent this year and ARL member libraries had a 51 percent response rate, 13 percent higher than in 2007.  Response remains low for Two-Year college libraries (17 percent).

Table 4. Response Rates by Library Type, 2008

Library Type

Responding Libraries

Libraries Invited to Participate

Response Rate

Very Small Public

88

541

16%

Small Public

132

523

25%

Medium Public

165

505

33%

Large Public

166

337

49%

Very Large Public

58

82

71%

2-Year College

93

539

17%

4-Year College

109

373

29%

University

163

513

32%

ARL

36

71

51%

Total

1010

3484

29%

Despite the increased response rate, much of the state-level data reported is statistically insignificant. However, the project directors decided to include all data, including those without statistically significant response rates.

How to Access the Data

Data from the 2008 Librarian Salary Survey is available through the ALA-APA Library Salary Database (http://cs.ala.org/websurvey/salarysurvey/salarysurveyform/form.cfm), a subscription-based tool that costs $50 for 30-day access and $150 for annual access ($250 for non-ALA members). Subscribers can run reports for 2006 to 2008 data by more than 60 MLS and non-MLS positions, library type, region and state. The database is useful for job seekers, employees preparing for performance reviews, library administrators and human resources staff.

The print editions of the survey offer more extensive data analyses and salary resources. There are separate sections for public and academic librarians in  six  position categories. State-level data are presented in each section by position, following the regional salary table. The full Library Salary Survey is $90 ($81 for ALA members). The printed versions can be ordered by mail from the ALA Store, P.O. Box 932501, Atlanta, GA 31193-2501; by phone (1-866-746-7252); by fax (1-770-442-9742); or online(http://www.alastore.ala.org/). Please note that survey respondents receive a 25 percent discount.

For more information, visit www.ala.-apa.org or call ALA-APA Director Jenifer Grady at 800-545-2433, x2424.