Merit Pay Most Often Used in Compensation for Public and Academic Librarians

A Report from the 2010 Librarian Salary Survey supplemental questions

In addition to providing compensation data in every Salary Survey: Librarian – Public and Academic, ALA-APA also collects and publishes supplemental data on different topics. The second and third supplemental questions in the 2010 survey request data on compensation strategies used by libraries.

The survey was sent in January 2010 to a sample of 957 public and 715 academic libraries, using a proportional sampling procedure. By March 12, 2010, usable responses had been received from 350 public libraries and 233 academic libraries for a total of 583, or 35 percent. This compares to a 33 percent response rate in 2009. In 2010, almost all staff (directors or Human Resource managers, primarily) responding on behalf of their libraries also completed the supplemental questions.

The second supplemental question asked respondents which compensation strategies they used. The survey provided eight choices (including “other, please describe,”) and asked respondents to check all that applied. The strategy most commonly chosen was merit pay (39 percent of respondents, or 220 libraries). Twenty-seven percent of libraries (152 total) used scale plus Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA); base plus COLA was used by 23.8 percent, or 134 libraries. (See below for definitions of compensation strategies.) A job-based or skill-based pay strategy was used in 24.8 percent, or 140 libraries. According to results, only four libraries, or .7 percent of respondents, used cash incentives (Table 1). Other responses included longevity, step increases, COLA pool, education incentives, bilingual pay, general base pay for all and tuition reimbursement for work-related study. Also included was a library that had no increase, instead the staff faced a 3.4 percent reduction in wages and benefits.

The third supplemental question asked about compensation apart from wages. The question provided eight choices (including “other, please describe,”) and asked respondents to check all that applied. By far, the most popular choice was conference attendance (80.5 percent, or 417 libraries). Following conference attendance were compensatory time, at 55.8 percent or 289 libraries, and membership dues at 45.6 percent or 236 libraries. Least-commonly chosen was team-based pay (.4 percent, or 2 libraries) (Table 2). Other compensation included tuition reimbursement and travel stipends; recognition for perfect attendance, birthdays and holidays; cafeteria plan benefits; employer contribution to optional supplemental retirement; longevity (also listed for wage-based compensation), retirement package; bilingual pay; working in higher classification; and vehicle and mileage reimbursement.

Table 1: Compensation strategies used in current pay system-2010

% of Libraries

# of Libraries

Base plus Cost of Living Allowance (COLA)

23.8%

134

Scale plus Cost of Living Allowance (COLA)

27.0%

152

Cash Incentives

.7%

4

Bonuses (Variable Pay)

3.4%

19

Broadbanding

6.7%

38

Job-based or skill-based pay

24.8%

140

Merit pay

39.0%

220

Other (see below)

12.8%

72

Total

100.0%

564


Definitions of Compensation Methods

  • Base plus Cost of Living Allowance (COLA): An adjustment to the base salary by a percentage that is assumed to match increases in costs for goods and services on a national, regional or local level or account for changes in the market.
  • Scale plus Cost of Living Allowance (COLA): A range of pay rates, from minimum to maximum, set for a specific pay grade plus a cost of living adjustment.
  • Cash incentives: Additional compensation used to motivate and reward employees for exceeding performance or productivity goals.
  • Bonuses (Variable Pay): An incentive pay plan which awards employees compensation, in addition to their base salary, for achieving individual or group performance and productivity goals.
  • Broadbanding: A pay structure that consolidates existing job classifications and ranges into wider pay bands.
  • Job-based or skill-based pay: A salary differentiation system that bases compensation on an individual’s education, experience, knowledge, skills or specialized training.
  • Merit pay: A compensation system whereby base pay increases are determined by individual performance.
  • Other


Table 2: Additional forms of compensation provided-2010

% of Libraries

# of Libraries

Awards Programs

17.0%

88

Compensatory time

55.8%

289

Conference attendance

80.5%

417

Membership dues

45.6%

236

Sabbaticals

16.2%

84

Team-based pay

.4%

2

Other (see below)

10.4%

54

Total

100.0%

518