For many, salary discussion is the last taboo. But without knowing how their peers are compensated, it can be hard for librarians to make their case for better pay—and hard for library leaders to make the case to funders that higher salaries are necessary to attract and retain the best candidates. Even in public institutions, where salaries are often a matter of public record, figuring out who in another institution is the right apples-to-apples comparison for benchmarking can be a challenge.
There is some information already out there. The American Library Association (ALA) did a salary survey in 2008; its Allied Professional Association provides a database through 2011; and the U.S. Department of Labor shares some data but doesn’t get very granular in terms of specialty or title. There are cross-field crowdsourced sites like Payscale (the source of the numbers underlying Forbes’s controversial contention that the MLIS is the country’s worst graduate degree). LJ has, for years, conducted its annual Placements & Salaries survey (see “The Emerging Databrarian,” LJ 10/15/13, p. 26–33), which focuses on recent Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS and equivalent degree) graduates, to dig into what beginning librarians earn in their first positions and what trends those salaries reveal about the field as a whole. Now, with the help of more than 3,200 public, academic, school, special, government, and consortium librarians from all 50 states, we take a deeper look at the range of the field’s salary potential.
It’s not possible to provide an exact match to the unique set of circumstances each librarian brings to the negotiating table—the educational qualifications, the job responsibilities, the years of service, the size of the system, and the regional context all combine in too many different ways.
Nonetheless, LJ’s inaugural salary survey for U.S. librarians and paralibrarians will help readers get closer to understanding how their salary compares with those of their peers….