Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Librarians Get Real About Salaries on Reddit

Last week, library workers took to Reddit to talk about something that's rarely discussed in public: salaries. The question "Librarians of Reddit, what is your income and how many years of experience do you have?" elicited more than 70 responses. Under the cloak of online anonymity, librarians and library workers in the United States and beyond got real about what they make.
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The majority of those who responded to the question posted on Reddit work at academic libraries. The next sizable percentage work at public libraries. Others are employed in law libraries, corporate libraries, school libraries, or special libraries, such as the librarian/archivist who works at a fashion company. It seemed that most who participated in the online discussion are in the Midwest or live along the East Coast of the United States. There were a noticeable few who joined in from Canada, and at least one Australian added to the discussion.

Judging from the discussion thread, those who make the most are library directors (big surprise, huh?) and library managers. Those who work in the academic sphere are among the top earners, followed by those who work within a corporation. Respondents whose library job involves a digital component or an element of IT (information technology) rake in big bucks as well. Those at the lower end of the earning spectrum were part-time workers and library pages.

In the thread, many bemoaned their low pay, which seemed to be due to salary freezes or salary cuts. This reply, from bibliothecaire, was typical:

"I have an understanding supervisor as well. It sucks because I like my co-workers, my library, and the college. The pay is simply too low and there's little chance of a raise unless a faculty librarian position opens up. I've been here nearly 3 years."

Another factor that affects salaries is where the library job itself is located. A "recent grad from Canada" named MalarkeyTFC began by saying:

"I have been looking into jobs in the States, and the discrepancy in pay between different states is mind blowing to me. The farther away from major urban centres (or from major university towns and what not) you get, the salaries just seem to tank. I've seen jobs in St. Louis that for all intents and purposes were identical to jobs in Boston or New York, and they got paid 1/3rd of their counterparts. This is funny to me almost because in Canada, it's the opposite. The farther away from urban centres you go, the higher the salaries tend to be because no one wants to live in butt fuck nowhere during the middle of winter."

(This is something I did not know until now - that if I were to go to Canada for a library job, I would have to live far from where the action is in order to get higher pay. It's kind of a fascinating dynamic actually, considering it is the complete opposite here in the States.)

Replying to MalarkeyTFC, others pointed out that the cost of living is substantially higher in major urban centers in the United States. As a result, salaries tend to be higher in order to (ideally) cover the cost of living in an expensive urban center, such as New York or Chicago. However, in smaller towns, in the suburbs, and in the country, library workers' salaries tend to hover in the low-to-mid 30s. So geography, as well as the type of company and the library worker's position within that company, can make a difference in take-home pay. 

Another factor affecting pay is the years of experience on the job or in the field of librarianship. The years of experience among those who participated in the Reddit discussion ranged from those newly graduated from library school to those who've been employed in the field for decades. In fact, one respondent said they've worked "22 years total as a librarian," with 17 of those years spent at their current employer! Of course, that person is earning quite a bit, "making mid-90K."

Admittedly, I'm not entering librarianship for the money. But it is interesting to note what the reality is when it comes to personal income for those in the field. For further insight into what librarians and library workers earn, and the factors affecting this income, check out the Reddit discussion, "Librarians of Reddit, what is your income and how many years of experience do you have?", at THIS LINK.


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