Library Employee Benefits 2003 and 2008: A Report From the 2008 Librarian Salary Survey

By Jenifer Grady

Given the current economic downturn, one might assume that libraries are offering fewer benefits than they were five years ago. The results of the 2008 ALA-APA Salary Survey: Librarian—Public and Academic (Librarian Salary Survey) confirm this assumption, but also offer several surprises. The supplemental question in the 2008 ALA-APA Salary Survey: Librarian was a five-year follow-up to the 2003 ALA Survey of Librarian Salaries on benefits provided to library staff (Lynch 2003). Twenty-one common benefits were listed in the questionnaire, which also allowed for an “other” option. Human resources staff completed this question for full- and part-time professional and support staff: “Please indicate below what benefits your library provides and which staff are eligible. Use your own definitions of full-time and part-time. Do not report benefits that are for the director only as determined by contract negotiations.”

Comparison of benefits offered by public and academic libraries from 2003 and 2008 revealed:

  • In the insurance group of benefits, academic libraries stood out as offering more options to part-time staff.
  • Leave benefits typically declined more for academic libraries.
  • Both library types are offering fewer financial benefits (retirement savings, professional memberships, pension plans) than in 2003.
  • There were signs of hope, however, in many slight rather than major declines and in the vast array of additional benefits and creative options that libraries are offering their employees.

Staff responding to the survey were generous: 99.7 percent of public libraries and 98.3 percent of academic libraries listed their benefits. One thousand and ten public and academic libraries completed the salary portion of the survey (609 public and 401 academic) and 993 of those completed the supplemental question on benefits as well. The 1,010 responding libraries were 29 percent of the total 3,484 libraries with at least two ALA-accredited MLS librarians. Please see the end of this article for information on accessing data from the 2008 Librarian Salary Survey.

Figures 1 and 2 respectively list the benefits and staff categories. Respondents were asked to apply their own definitions to professional and support staff.

Figure 1. List of Benefits

  • Bereavement leave
  • Child care
  • Credit union
  • Dental insurance
  • Disability insurance
  • Elder care
  • Flexible spending plans*
  • Health insurance
  • Life insurance
  • Long-term care
  • Pension
  • Personal days
  • Prescription benefits
  • Professional memberships
  • Retirement savings
  • Sick leave
  • Training & education
  • Transportation subsidies
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Vacation
  • Vision insurance
  • Other

*Not included in 2003 survey

Figure 2. Staff categories

  • Full-time Professional Staff
  • Part-time Professional Staff
  • Full-time Support Staff
  • Part-time Support Staff

All twenty-one benefits were offered by at least some libraries. For the purposes of comparison, benefits were aggregated into four groups—insurance, leave, financial and other—in detail below for public and academic libraries separately. Overall, for full-time professional and support staff in public and academic libraries combined, more than 90 percent were offered health insurance, vacation and sick leave (Table 1). The least commonly offered benefits were elder and child care.

There were only slight differences in benefits offered to professional and support staff. The largest differences were seen in the additional benefits group of benefits: professional memberships (42.7 vs. 21.2 percent); training and education (87.8 vs. 82.6 percent); and transportation subsidies (36.6 vs. 32.6).

Table 1. Benefits Provided To Eligible Full-Time Professional and Support Staff In Public and Academic Libraries

Professional Staff

% of Libraries

# of Libraries

 

 

Support Staff

% of Libraries

# of Libraries

Health insurance

99.1%

984

 

 

Health insurance

97.6%

930

Vacation

97.3%

966

 

 

Vacation

96.1%

916

Sick leave

97.0%

963

 

 

Sick leave

96.0%

915

Bereavement leave

88.1%

875

 

 

Bereavement leave

87.8%

837

Training & education

87.8%

872

 

 

Life insurance

86.1%

821

Life insurance

87.7%

871

 

 

Dental insurance

85.3%

813

Dental insurance

85.1%

845

 

 

Prescription benefits

83.4%

795

Prescription benefits

84.8%

842

 

 

Training & education

82.6%

787

Pension

76.8%

763

 

 

Pension

75.8%

722

Retirement savings

75.6%

751

 

 

Retirement savings

73.3%

699

Disability insurance

72.1%

716

 

 

Disability insurance

71.6%

682

Personal days

66.5%

660

 

 

Personal days

68.2%

650

Vision insurance

64.6%

641

 

 

Flexible spending plans

64.4%

614

Flexible spending plans

63.7%

633

 

 

Vision insurance

62.6%

597

Tuition reimbursement

61.8%

614

 

 

Tuition reimbursement

59.2%

564

Credit union

43.6%

433

 

 

Credit union

44.6%

425

Professional memberships

42.7%

424

 

 

Transportation subsidies

32.6%

311

Transportation subsidies

36.6%

363

 

 

Long-term care

25.6%

244

Long-term care

24.4%

242

 

 

Professional memberships

21.2%

202

Other

11.4%

113

 

 

Other

10.5%

100

Child care

4.3%

43

 

 

Child care

4.7%

45

Because the 2003 survey responses were reported in aggregate as benefits offered to full-time only (professional and support), all staff (full- and part-time, professional and support) and other by type of library, direct comparisons are not possible for professional and support staff. The tables below show the 2008 data for each benefit by library type and staff category. For some sense of perspective, the last two columns show the percentage in 2003 of libraries that provided the benefit for only full-time and for all staff categories. The numbers of responding libraries for tables in the 2003 Employee Benefits Survey were not included.

To calculate the 2008 Does not offer percentages for tables, the percentage is equivalent to one minus the highest percentage of full-time professional staff covered for any type of insurance in the group. For example, since 98.7 percent of full-time professional staff in public libraries have health insurance coverage, one point three (1.3) percent of responding libraries did not offer health insurance coverage.

It is important to note that some of the libraries in the survey did not employ part-time staff. It is also important to note that the question asked if benefits were provided, a wording which does not reveal underlying questions such as what amount or percentage of the benefit is paid by the library and by staff, the number or percentage of staff who take advantage of the benefit and why or why they do not. Some insight to the latter question can be garnered from a 2008 Workplace Wellness study conducted by the ALA-APA (Bragg 2008).

Insurance

Insurance benefits are health, dental, life, vision, disability and prescription. In public libraries, part-time professional and support staff are offered less insurance coverage than in academic libraries. For example, health insurance was provided for 55.4 percent of academic part-time professional staff but only 34.2 percent of public part-time professional staff, a gap of more than 21 percent. For part-time support staff, the health insurance offering gap is more than 25 percent.

In public libraries, due to the economy and other factors, the percentage of libraries not offering each insurance benefit has increased slightly, at most 2.7 percent for disability insurance. Interestingly, in academic libraries, the percentage of benefits offered has increased in all areas, by as much as 18.2 percent for vision and as little as .7 percent for health coverage.

Table 2. Insurance, Public Libraries 2008 and Comparison of Coverage of All Staff in 2003

Public

       

 

 

 

 

Insurance Type

FT Professional %

n-599

PT Professional %

n=476

FT Support %

n-566

PT Support %

n=490

2003 FT Only %

2003 All %

Health

98.7

34.2

96.6

32.2

57.9

33

Dental

81.5

30.0

82.0

30.0

49.1

28

Life

83.5

34.2

82.5

31.8

51.9

29

Vision

60.8

23.7

59.0

24.5

33.5

22

Disability

63.4

30.9

64.0

27.8

34.4

26

Prescription

83.3

29.0

80.9

26.9

51.5

26

Table 3. Insurance, Public Libraries, Comparison of 2003 and 2008 Benefits Not Offered

Public

2003 Does not offer %

2008 Does not offer %

Health

0.2

1.3

Dental

16.0

18.5

Life

13.1

16.5

Vision

39.5

39.2

Disability

33.9

36.6

Prescription

16.8

16.7

Table 4. Insurance, Academic Libraries 2008 and Comparison of Coverage of All Staff in 2003

Academic

       

 

 

 

 

Insurance Type

FT Professional %

n=394

PT Professional %

n=260

FT Support %

n=387

PT Support %

n=251

2003 FT Only %

2003 All %

Health

99.7

55.4

99.0

57.8

63.8

19.7

Dental

90.6

51.5

90.2

51.8

53.8

15.4

Life

94.2

48.1

91.5

49.4

58.5

14.4

Vision

70.3

37.3

68.0

38.2

32.3

9.2

Disability

85.3

45.0

82.7

48.6

49.7

15.6

Prescription

87.1

46.9

87.1

51.4

51.0

13.8

Table 5. Insurance, Academic Libraries, Comparison of 2003 and 2008 Benefits Not Offered

Academic

2003 Does not offer %

2008 Does not offer %*

Health

1.0

0.3

Dental

17.9

9.4

Life

10.5

5.8

Vision

47.9

29.7

Disability

19.7

14.7

Prescription

23.1

12.9

Leave

Leave benefits are vacation, sick, personal days and bereavement. For almost all types of leave, more public library employees enjoy these benefits. The exception was slightly higher vacation and sick leave reported for academic library full-time support staff.

Both public and academic libraries are offering fewer types of leave benefits. Yet the percentage of decline by academic libraries is far more, as 9.3 percent fewer academic libraries are offering personal days and 4 percent fewer offer vacation leave to staff. For public libraries, no leave benefit declined more than 2.4 percent (bereavement). Interestingly, this was the same amount by which academic libraries increased their bereavement benefits over five years, the only leave increase in either library type.

Table 6. Leave, Public Libraries 2008 and Comparison of Coverage of All Staff in 2003

Public

       

 

 

 

 

Leave Type

FT Professional %

n=599

PT Professional %

n=476

FT Support %

n=566

PT Support %

n=490

2003 FT Only %

2003 All %

Vacation

99.3

75.6

96.3

73.5

32.1

57.1

Sick

97.7

67.2

94.9

63.7

36.4

52.4

Personal days

70.3

43.7

68.7

41.4

31.3

32.1

Bereavement

91.3

63.2

90.6

60.2

34.6

49.9

Table 7. Leave, Public Libraries, Comparison of 2003 and 2008 Benefits Not Offered

Public

2003 Does not offer %

2008 Does not offer %*

Vacation

0.2

0.7

Sick

1.2

2.3

Personal days

28.8

29.7

Bereavement

6.3

8.7

Table 8. Leave, Academic Libraries 2008 and Comparison of Coverage of All Staff in 2003

Academic

       

 

 

 

 

Leave Type

FT Professional %

n=394

PT Professional %

n=260

FT Support %

n=387

PT Support %

n=251

2003 FT Only %

2003 All %

Vacation

94.2

66.5

95.9

73.7

51.3

27.4

Sick

95.9

68.5

97.7

71.7

52.3

28.2

Personal days

60.7

36.5

67.4

41.4

34.6

15.6

Bereavement

83.2

54.6

83.7

55.8

43.3

22.3

Table 9. Leave, Academic Libraries, Comparison of 2003 and 2008 Benefits Not Offered

Academic

 

Leave Type

2003 Does not offer %

2008 Does not offer %*

Vacation

1.8

5.8

Sick

1.8

4.1

Personal days

30.0

39.3

Bereavement

19.2

16.8

Financial

Financial benefits include pension, retirement savings, tuition reimbursement, credit union, professional memberships and transportation subsidies. Public libraries are more likely to offer pensions while retirement savings are a bit more common in academic libraries. Understandably, tuition reimbursement is in better alignment with resources available to academic libraries. The largest differences in financial benefits are in professional memberships and transportation subsidies, both more likely in public libraries; the numbers dip into single digits for academic support staff.

In public libraries, retirement savings benefits declined by 11.8 percent; while, they increased by 3 percent for academic library staff. Credit union relationships in public arenas are down 28 percent; the number of federally insured credit unions decreased by 16 percent from 2003 to 2007, their assets are up and the number of members increased by more than 5 percent (National Credit Union Association 2007). Credit unions and transportation subsidies are less often seen in academic libraries.

Table 10. Financial, Public Libraries 2008 and Comparison of Coverage of All Staff in 2003

Public

       

 

 

 

 

Financial Type

FT Professional %

n=599

PT Professional %

n=476

FT Support %

n=566

PT Support %

n=490

2003 FT Only %

2003 All %

Pension

81.1

51.7

80.0

50.2

36.6

46.2

Retirement savings

70.8

46.2

69.3

43.5

29.7

43.8

Tuition reimbursement

52.3

34.9

49.3

31.6

22.5

25.8

Credit union

41.1

39.3

42.8

36.7

9.4

54.8

Professional membership

56.9

26.3

29.7

15.7

11.2

10.0

Transportation subsidies

43.6

31.3

39.6

31.2

8.8

32.7

Table 11. Financial, Public Libraries, Comparison of 2003 and 2008 Benefits Not Offered

Public

   

Financial Type

2003 Does not offer %

2008 Does not offer %*

Pension

11.9

18.9

Retirement savings

17.4

29.2

Tuition reimbursement

43.6

47.7

Credit union

30.9

58.9

Professional membership

46.8

43.1

Transportation subsidies

51.5

56.4

Table 12. Financial, Academic Libraries 2008 and Comparison of Coverage of All Staff in 2003

Academic

       

 

 

 

 

Financial Type

FT Professional %

n=394

PT Professional %

n=260

FT Support %

n=387

PT Support %

n=251

2003 FT Only %

2003 All %

Pension

70.3

41.9

69.5

43.8

46.2

19.7

Retirement savings

83.0

53.1

79.3

51.0

47.9

18.5

Tuition reimbursement

76.4

48.1

73.6

46.6

47.2

16.9

Credit union

47.5

45.8

47.3

48.6

23.3

21.0

Professional membership

21.1

10.0

8.8

6.4

6.2

1.8

Transportation subsidies

25.9

18.5

22.5

18.3

17.4

10.8

Table 13. Financial, Academic Libraries, Comparison of 2003 and 2008 Benefits Not Offered

Academic

 

Financial Type

2003 Does not offer %

2008 Does not offer %*

Pension

23.3

29.7

Retirement savings

20.0

17.0

Tuition reimbursement

22.6

23.6

Credit union

49.5

52.5

Professional membership

69.0

78.9

Transportation subsidies

62.6

74.1

Additional Benefits

Four other benefits were considered both in 2003 and 2008: child care, elder care, long-term care, and training & education. Respondents in 2003 indicated a very high “not offered” response therefore no tables were presented in the 2003 Employee Benefits survey report, while they were included in the narrative. Flexible spending plans were not addressed in the 2003 survey. Public libraries were more likely to offer such benefits as flexible spending plans, child care, long-term care and elder-care to full-time staff more than to support staff. Most markedly, flexible spending plans were offered almost 30 percent more often by responding academic libraries. Part-time employees receive greater additional benefits at academic libraries as well. Training and education, surprisingly, was the only benefit that appears to be supported more frequently in public libraries for full-time employees.

Table 14. Additional Benefits, Public Libraries 2008

Public

       

Additional Benefits

FT Professional %

n=599

PT Professional %

n=476

FT Support %

n=566

PT Support %

n=490

Flexible spending plans

52.9

28.6

54.1

27.1

Child care

1.5

0.8

1.6

1.6

Elder care

2.0

1.3

1.9

0.8

Long-term care

15.5

8.8

16.1

8.0

Training & education

90.3

26.3

86.4

71.8

Table 15. Additional Benefits, Academic Libraries 2008

Academic

       

Additional Benefits

FT Professional %

n=394

PT Professional %

n=260

FT Support %

n=387

PT Support %

n=251

Flexible spending plans

80.2

46.2

79.6

45.8

Child care

8.6

7.7

9.3

8.8

Elder care

3.8

3.5

3.6

3.6

Long-term care

37.8

21.9

39.5

24.7

Training & education

84.0

59.6

77.0

58.6

Other

There were a myriad of benefits in the Other category. Some were paid in full or part, or group discounts were arranged for deferred compensation, long-term care insurance and fitness center memberships. Family Medical Leave Act benefits are legal mandates that some human resources staff included in their benefits package (United States Department of Labor). States also have laws that govern what some consider benefits, like time off to vote (Findlaw). Other human resources staff included benefits that some employees might take for granted, such as free parking. Whether part-time professional and support staff receive these benefits, like those reported above, depend on tenure, the percentage of Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) or hours worked (e.g., must work 53 percent of the workweek, 750 hours a year). Some libraries prorate their benefits based on these calculations. Part-time staff may also receive a lump sum towards benefits such as $200 annually towards vision care.

Insurance-related

  • Accidental death and dismemberment insurance
  • Dependent care reimbursement account with health care savings plan/flexible spending plan that allows pre-tax contributions
  • Employee Assistance Programs
  • Group legal/prepaid legal services
  • Short-term disability
  • Supplemental insurance
  • Wellness programs

Leave

  • Administrative leave
  • Educational leave
  • Floating holidays
  • Jury Duty leave—paid and/or time off; also called civic or public service leave
  • Military leave
  • Paid holidays ranged from 11 in public to 16 in academic
  • Premium compensation for working on Sundays
  • Sabbaticals (academic)
  • Sick leave bank

Financial

  • 401(k), 402(b) or 457 plan (tax-deferred defined contribution retirement plans)
  • Bilingual pay
  • Bonuses
  • Dependent tuition wavers (academic)
  • Direct deposit
  • Free, waived or reimbursed tuition
  • Interest-free computer loans and cell phone discounts (academic)
  • Longevity pay
  • Savings bonds through direct deductions
  • Scholarships for general or diverse staff enrolled in graduate programs of Library Science

Other

  • Discounted books and media
  • Fine-free borrowing (public)
  • Fitness center discounts
  • Flexible scheduling
  • Free parking
  • Meal supplement—free lunch or discounts in campus meal facilities
  • Professional travel
  • Union membership. At one academic library, full-time and part-time support staff have union membership as a benefit. There may be other libraries, public and academic, where a union is present, but was not listed a benefit. Please see the ALA-APA Salaries website for information about unions in libraries—http://www.ala-apa.org/salaries/salaries.html.

Salary data

For the fourth year, the American Library Association-Allied Professional Association: the Organization for Advancement of Library Employees (ALA-APA) conducted the national survey of librarian salaries. The American Library Association (ALA) conducted a periodic survey of salaries for full-time professionals in academic and public libraries from 1982 to 2004.

The 2008 ALA-APA Salary Survey: Librarian—Public and Academic may be purchased at the ALA Store—http://www.alastore.ala.org/SiteSolution.taf?_sn=catalog2&_pn=product_detail&_op=2641.

The ALA-APA Library Salary Databasehttp://www.ala.org/cfapps/salarysurvey/salarysurveyform/form.cfm—gives subscribers access to salary data for more than 60 librarian and non-MLS positions from 2006 through 2008.

If you have specific questions about this data, please contact ALA-APA at 800-545-2433, x2424 or jgrady@ala.org.

Works Cited:

Bragg, Jamie. “Employees Surveyed Express Support for Wellness Initiatives, Ambivalence about Execution.” Library Worklife, v5n6 June 2008. http://www.ala-apa.org/salaries/workplacewellnesspt4.pdf.

Findlaw.com. State-by-State Time Off to Vote Laws. http://www.findlaw.com/voting-rights-law.html. Accessed November 6, 2008.

Lynch, Mary Jo. Employee Benefits. 2003. http://www.ala.org/ala/aboutala/offices/ors/reports/reports.cfm.

National Credit Union Administration. “2007 Year-End Statistics for Federally Insured Credit Unions.” http://www.ncua.gov/ReportsAndPlans/statistics/Yearend2007.pdf

United States Department of Labor. http://www.dol.gov/dol/allcfr/ESA/Title_29/Part_825/29CFR825.104.htm