Librarian Salaries Increase Less Than Other Civilian Workers

Latest ALA survey shows a 2.3% gain


Since 1982 (annually since 1988) ALA has collected and published data on salaries paid to librarians in academic and public libraries that have at least two professionals. This has been done because people often ask ALA to tell them what salary might be paid to a librarian in a particular type of position, working in a particular type of library, in a particular part of the U.S.

There have been minor changes over the years but, in general, the survey has been sent to about 1,200 library directors who were asked to report the salaries paid to full-time staff with master’s degrees from programs in library and information studies accredited by ALA. In 2004, the survey was sent to a random sample of 1,275 libraries, of which 881 responded (69.1%). Respondents provided salaries paid as of April 1, 2004 to incumbents in five position types, plus beginning librarian, as shown in the table accompanying this article.


A total of 15,027 salaries were reported ranging from a low of $13,878 to a high of $241,280 with a mean of $52,188 and a median of $48,792. The results by position category and a comparison of the 2004 average salary to the 2003 average salary for each category are listed in the table.

The percentage of increase in the means of this year’s 15,027 salaries over the means of last year’s 15,856 salaries is 2.3 percent. This figure is slightly lower than the increase in salaries for all “civilian workers” for the same time period as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in their Employment Cost Index.

The percent change from March 2003 to March 2004 for civilian workers was 2.5%. The increase for the state and local government subset of civilian workers was 2.1%.

Data on the Employment Cost Index is published in each issue of the Monthly Labor Review, but those figures are now several months behind what can be found on the Web. Percent change figures used in this paragraph were found on August 29, 2004 at:

For all six categories, salaries were usually highest in large public or university libraries and lowest in medium-sized public libraries or two-year college libraries. For all positions salaries are usually highest in the North Atlantic and West/Southwest regions and lowest in the Southeast. These patterns vary somewhat from year to year except that salaries in the Southeast are always lowest.

In the full report, results for each position category are displayed for each of the four regions of the U.S. and summarized by showing the range, mean, median, first quartile, and third quartile.

The report also contains an annotated list of “Compensation Surveys Providing Information on Library Workers,” a compilation of all “ALA Policies Related to Compensation Issues,” and a table showing the number of “Salaries Paid for Less Than a Twelve Month Year in Academic Libraries” by type of library and position.

Table 1. Rank Order of Position Types by Mean of Salaries Paid
2004 Salary
2003 Salary
Deputy/Associate/Assistant Directors
Department Heads/Coordinators/Senior Managers
Managers/Supervisors of Support Staff
Librarians who do not supervise
Beginning Librarians

Source: Ala Survey of Librarian Salaries, 2004

Note: Mary Jo Lynch was director of ALA’s Office for Research and Statistics until her retirement in December 2003. The full report is $70 and can be ordered in any one of four ways: by mail from ALA Order Fulfillment, P.O. Box 932501, Atlanta, GA 31193-2501; by phone (1-866-746-7252); by fax (1-770- 280-4155); or online at