Library Workers: Facts & Figures

Fact Sheet 2013

For a PDF version of this fact sheet, click here.

Libraries and library staff provide essential services for schools, universities, and communities.  Americans use libraries for free, reliable, and organized access to books, the Internet, and other sources of information and entertainment; assistance finding work; research and reference assistance; and programs for children, immigrants, and other groups with specific needs, just to name a few.

This fact sheet explores: library staff in the workforce, where library staff work, diversity within the profession, the role of women in the profession, issues of pay and pay equity, the union difference for library staff, and how the recession and sequestration has affected libraries and library staff.

The Numbers

  • In 2012, there were 181,000 librarians, 45,000 library technicians, and 153,000 other education, training, and library workers.[1]  Generally, the definition of “librarian” is a person who holds a master’s degree in library science or meets state teaching license standards for being a school librarian.[2] “Library technicians” assist librarians in the acquisition, preparation, and organization of materials “and assist users in locating the appropriate resources.”[3]  “Library assistants” are similar to library technicians, but may have fewer responsibilities.
  • In FY 2010 libraries circulated 2.46 billion materials and offered 3.75 million programs. While physical visits to the library declined, attendance at offered programs, most of which were for children, continued to climb.[4] It is difficult to determine if the decrease in physical visits is a function of increased use of digital resources offered by libraries or of reduced operating hours and branch closures as a response to budget restrictions. The Institute of Museum and Library Services concludes, however, that the growing popularity of programs indicates continued demand for that which libraries provide.[5]
  • There were 244,842 internet-ready computers in libraries in 2010. Library patrons used these computers over 360 million times during that fiscal year.[6] In 2012, 62 percent of libraries report that they provided the only free public internet access in their community.[7]
  • The Bureau of Labor statistics projects a seven percent increase in the number of librarians from 2010-2020 and a 10 percent increase in library technicians in the same period. These are both slower than projected overall job growth (14 percent).[8] However, from 2011-2012 the number of librarians dropped by almost nine percent, while the number of technicians grew by almost 22 percent, bringing the number of technicians closer to the pre-recession level.[9]
  • The American Library Association reported that the number of school librarians continued to drop in 2012, as tightening budgets forced many districts to restrict or eliminate their library programs. As sequestration continues, this field will likely face additional contraction.[10]
  • The median annual earnings of librarians in 2012 were $55,370.[11]
  • The median annual earnings of library technicians were $30,660 in 2012. [12]
  • Library assistants had median annual earnings of $23,440.[13]

Employment

  • Most librarians, nearly two-thirds, work in school and academic libraries.[14]  Nearly one-third of librarians work in public libraries.[15]  The remainder work in special libraries, including businesses, law firms, nonprofits, and scientific organizations.[16]
  • In 2011, 26 percent of librarians worked part-time.[17]  Public and college librarians often work weekends and evenings, as well as some holidays.[18]  School librarians usually have the same workday and vacation schedules as classroom teachers.[19]  Special librarians usually work normal business hours, but in fast-paced industries such as advertising or legal services, often work longer hours when needed.[20]  This also applies to library technicians.[21]
  • More than half of all library assistants are employed by local government in public libraries; most of the remaining employees work in school libraries.[22]  About 63 percent of all library assistants worked part-time in 2010.[23]

Diversity among Library Workers

  • Librarians, technicians, and assistants are predominantly white.[24]  According to an ALA report, there is a persistent lag in racial diversity and people with disabilities.[25]
  • In 2012, 7.9 percent of librarians were Black or African American, 2.8 percent were Hispanic or Latino, and 2.5 percent were Asian.[26]
  • Black or African American employees made up 9.5 percent of all education and library professionals, while Hispanic and Asians represented 9.7 and 4.3 percent of the education workforce respectively.[27]
  • Among members of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), 16.2 percent of the professional staff is composed of minorities.[28] Asian and Pacific Islanders account for 6.8 percent of the professional staff, Black or African Americans for 4.4 percent, Latinos or Hispanics for 2.6 percent, and American Indian or Alaskan natives for 0.3 percent.[29]
  • There are geographic variations in the diversity of library employees as well. Minorities made up 18.2 percent of professional employees in ARL libraries in the South Atlantic Region, but only 3.4 percent of professionals in the East South Central ARL libraries.[30]
  • In 2011, nearly 42 percent of librarians and 28 percent of library technicians were over the age of 55. The average age for librarians in 2011 was 49.8, representing a slight overall increase since 2006 when the average age was 48.7.[31]
  • The average age of library technicians in 2011 was 47.1; close to 33 percent of technicians were between the ages of 18 and 25.[32]

Women and Work

Historically, women dominated the library profession, and still make up a significant majority of the workforce.

  • Women represented nearly 81 percent of graduates in Masters of Library Science (MLS) programs in 2010-2011. Black women represented 4.1 percent of all MLS graduates, while Hispanic and Asian women accounted for 3.9 and 3.1 percent of the 2011 class respectively.[33]
  • In 2012, women accounted for 86.8 percent of all librarians well above the average of 73.6 percent for all education and library professionals.[34]
  • An ARL survey found that 62 percent of university library professionals were women. Among research library directors, women were in the majority (58 percent).[35]
  • While men accounted for only 38 percent of university library professionals in 2011, they accounted for approximately 42 percent of university library directors.[36]

The Wage Gap

Pay inequity remains a persistent and pervasive problem in our society.  In 2012, median weekly earnings for women were 81 percent those of men.[37] For most women of color, the earnings gap is even larger:  African American women earned just 70 cents for every dollar earned by men in 2012.[38] Hispanic and Latina women earned just 61 cents for every dollar men earned.[39] Asian women reported the highest median salary, earning 90 cents on the dollar compared to all men.[40] However, they earned only 73 percent of that reported by Asian men.[41]

Despite the fact that the library profession is predominantly women, the wage gap is actually worse than that reported by the labor force writ large:

  • Women working as librarians reported a median weekly salary of $813, compared to $1,052 for men.[42]
  • The disparity was even more staggering amongst library technicians where women earned 59 cents on the dollar compared to men. Men working as library technicians reported higher median salaries ($1,126) than women working as credentialed librarians ($813).[43]
  • The overall salary for women working as library professionals at a research university was 96 percent that of men in 2011-12, compared to 94.4 percent in 2003–04.[44]
  • In a 2011-12 survey of academic librarians, even when years of experience in a particular job were equal, men still outpaced women in salary by 3.8 percent: $73,348 for women and $76,225 for men.[45]  On average, women have more years of experience than men, but men’s salaries are still higher in nine out of 10 experience cohorts. The wage gap for minority workers persisted as well. The average salaries of both minority men and women were below the average for all men and women in 2011.[46]

Regional Variance in Salaries

  • Nationally, the median annual wage for librarians was $55,370 in 2012.[47] Wages vary significantly from state to state. The median annual wage in Washington, D.C. topped the list at $71, 220, followed closely by California, Connecticut, Maryland, and Washington.[48] The five lowest paying states were South Dakota, Idaho, Vermont, Mississippi, and Oklahoma where the average annual wage among the five states was $41,308.[49] These salaries are not, however, adjusted for differences in cost of living across states.
  • The West and North Atlantic, which have high union membership rates, also consistently have the highest mean salaries for librarians and library workers.[50]

Institutional Variance in Salaries

Library staff salaries depend on the type of library.

  • In 2011, smaller libraries reported lower average salaries than larger libraries for both specific positions and for the staff overall. The average salary in a small library (with fewer than 50 staff) had average salaries of $72,562. In contrast, the average salary in very large libraries (over 110 staff members) was $75,974.[51]
  • Differences exist among librarians as well.  Librarians employed by local governments earned an average mean salary of $51,240 in 2012. Elementary and secondary school librarians earned an average mean salary of $59,430 in 2012.[52]
  • In 2010, directors of public libraries were paid a mean salary of $100,106, while librarians made $52,851.[53]  Directors of academic libraries earned $97,767, while librarians earned $55,732.[54]

Benefits

  • Nearly 12 percent of public libraries do not offer a pension, and 17.4 percent do not offer retirement savings.  Among academic libraries, 23.3 percent do not offer a pension, and 20 percent do not offer retirement savings.[55]
  • Almost 40 percent of public libraries do not offer vision insurance, and 16 percent do not offer dental insurance.  Among academic libraries, 42.9 percent do not offer vision insurance, and 17.9 percent do not offer dental insurance.[56]
  • Almost 34 percent of public libraries do not offer disability insurance, and almost 17 percent do not offer prescription coverage; in academic libraries, 19.7 percent do not offer disability insurance, and 23.1 percent do not offer prescription coverage.[57]

The Union Difference

  • In 2012, workers in education, training, and library occupations had the highest unionization rates for any professional occupation at 39.2 percent.[58]
  • In 2012, 32.4 percent of librarians were union members.[59]
  • In 2012, among library technicians, 20.8 percent were union members.[60]
  • Among library assistants, 20 percent were union members, in 2012.[61]
  • Nearly 17 percent of other education, training, and library workers were union members in 2011.
  • Union librarians earned an average of 64 percent more than non-union librarians in 2011.[62]  Union library technicians earned an average of 32.3 percent more than non-union librarian technicians in 2010 (the last year available).  Union library assistants earned nearly 148 percent more than non-union library assistants in 2011.[63]
  • In 2011, union workers in other education, training, and library fields earned an average of 24.2 percent more than their non-union counterparts.[64]
  • Union workers are more likely than their nonunion counterparts to be covered by health insurance and paid sick leave.  In March 2012, 95 percent of union members in the civilian workforce had access to medical care benefits, compared with only 64 percent of nonunion members.  In 2012, 84 percent of union members in the civilian workforce had access to paid sick leave compared to 62 percent of nonunion workers.[65]  At the median, private-sector unionized workers are paying 38 percent less for family coverage than private-sector nonunionized workers.[66]

Libraries and Library Staff in the Recession

  • In an op-ed piece in the Huffington Post, former American Library Association President Jim Rettig noted that “as the nation continues to experience a sharp and jarring economic downturn, local libraries are providing valuable free tools and resources to help Americans of all ages through this time of uncertainty….  [N]ow more than ever, libraries are proving that they are valued and trusted community partners.”[67]
  • The ALA fears sequestration will put even greater pressure on libraries; as demand for services continues to increase in the face of mandatory budget contraction libraries and librarians will have to do more with less.[68]
  • Many states are cutting funding forcing shortened hours, staff reductions, stagnating wages, fewer services and programs, and delaying or abandoning upgrades to computer hardware and software.[69]
  • Cuts to libraries are often in tandem with loss of other public services. In Concordia Parish, Louisiana, librarians report that the loss of state aid used to maintain their computer system means those they serve no longer have a means of accessing the Internet for job applications or access to other social services.[70]
  • Families patronizing libraries during this recession are often looking for less expensive ways to find entertainment and access the Internet, while many adults utilize the facilities to find new jobs. In Modesto, California, libraries report a 15 percent increase in the checkout of books, CDs, and DVDs.  Circulation of job-hunting materials is up 14 percent in Boulder, Colorado, and computer usage in Brantley County, Georgia was up 26 percent in the last quarter of 2008.[71]
  • In 2013, the Prince Georges County Council in Maryland voted to increase library budgets by $2.5 million, helping to reduce staffing shortages and prevent furloughs of library professionals.[72]
  • In 2012, a number of ballot measures for operations and construction of libraries passed across the country, although some large construction projects suffered defeat at the polls in Wyoming, Michigan, and Kentucky.[73]


[1] U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employed persons by detailed occupation, sex, race, and Hispanic or Latino ethnicity, Table 11. 2013.

[2] U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Occupational Outlook Handbook, Librarians.” 2012-13 Edition. Available at: http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos068.htm

[3] U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Occupational Outlook Handbook, Library Technicians and Library Assistants.” 2012-13 Edition. Available at: http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos316.htm

[4] Swan, D. W., Grimes, J., Owens, T., Vese, Jr., R. D., Miller, K., Arroyo, J., Craig, T., Dorinski, S.,

Freeman, M., Isaac, N., O’Shea, P., Schilling, P. Scotto, J. (2013). Public Libraries Survey: Fiscal Year

2010 (IMLS-2013–PLS-01). Institute of Museum and Library Services. Washington, DC

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] The American Library Association, “The State of America’s Libraries: A Report by the American Library Association.” 2013. American Libraries. http://www.ala.org/news/sites/ala.org.news/files/content/2013-State-of-Americas-Libraries-Report.pdf

[8] U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Occupational Outlook Handbook, Librarians.” 2012-13 Edition.

[9] U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employed persons by detailed occupation, sex, race, and Hispanic or Latino ethnicity, Table 11. 2013.

[10] The American Library Association, “The State of America’s Libraries: A Report by the American Library Association.” 2013. American Libraries. http://www.ala.org/news/sites/ala.org.news/files/content/2013-State-of-Americas-Libraries-Report.pdf

[11] U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, “Librarians,”
Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2012.

[12] U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, “Library Technicians,” Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2012.

[13] U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, “Library Assistants,”
Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2012.

[14] U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Occupational Outlook Handbook, Librarians.” 2010-11 Edition. Available at: http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos068.htm

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Hirsch, Barry T. and David A. MacPherson, Union Membership and Earnings Data Book, The Bureau of National Affairs, 2012.

[18] “Occupational Outlook Handbook, Librarians.” op. cit.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Ibid.

[22] U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Library Technicians and Library Assistants. 2012-13 Edition. Available at: http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos316.htm.

[23] Hirsch, Barry T., op. cit.

[24] Ibid.

[25] American Library Association, Office of Research and Statistics, Diversity Counts, January 2007.

[26] U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey, 2012, Table 11, “Employed persons by detailed occupation, sex, race, and Hispanic or Latino ethnicity.” Available at:  http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat11.pdf.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Association of Research Libraries, “Annual Salary Survey (2011-12).”  Available at:  http://www.arl.org/stats/annualsurveys/salary/sal1112.shtml.

[29] Ibid.

[30] Ibid.

[31] U.S. Census Bureau, DataFerrett, American Community Survey, Public Use Microdata Sample 2006-2011.

[32] Ibid.

[33] Master’s degrees conferred to females by degree-granting institutions, by race/ethnicity and field of study: 2009-10 and 2010-11  National Center for Education Statistics. Table 335 available at http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d12/tables/dt12_335.asp

[34] U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey, Annual Averages, Table 11, “Employed persons by detailed occupation, sex, race, and Hispanic or Latino ethnicity”, 2011.  Available at:  http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat11.pdf.

[35] Association of Research Libraries, Annual Salary Survey (2009-10), op. cit.

[36] Ibid.

[37] U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey, Table 37, “Median weekly earnings of full-time wage and salary workers by selected characteristics.” 2012. Available at: http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat37.pdf.

[38] Ibid.

[39] Ibid.

[40] Ibid.

[41] Ibid.

[42] U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Weekly and hourly earnings data from the current population.” 2011. http://data.bls.gov/pdq/querytool.jsp?survey=le

[43] Ibid.

[44] “Annual Salary Survey (2011-12),” op. cit., Table 17

[45] Ibid.

[46] Ibid.

[47] U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, “Librarians”, May 2011.  Available at: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes254021.htm

[48] U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, Librarians. May 2011.  Available at: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes254021.htm

[49] U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics Query System, May 2012.  Available at: http://data.bls.gov/oes/search.jsp?data_tool=OES.

[50] Maatta, Stephanie, op. cit.

[51] Annual Salary Survey (2011-12)

[52] U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, Librarians, May 2012.

[53] Grady, Jenifer, “Salary Survey: 2010 Librarian Pay Up 3 Percent Despite Economic Woes,” Library Worklife: HR E-News for Today’s Leaders. November 2010. Available at: http://ala-apa.org/newsletter/2010/11/01/salary-survey-librarian-pay-increased-3-percent-despite-2010-economic-woes/.

[54] Ibid.

[55] Lynch, Mary Jo. “ALA Employee Benefits,” 2003.

[56] Ibid.

[57] Ibid.

[58] U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Table 3. Union affiliation of employed wage and salary workers by occupation and industry.” January 2011. Available at: http://www.bls.gov/news.release/union2.t03.htm.

[59] Hirsch, Barry T., op. cit.

[60] Ibid.

[61] Ibid.

[62] Ibid.

[63] Ibid.

[64] Ibid.

[65] U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employee Benefits in the United States, Table 2 and Table 6; March 2012.

[66] Jenifer MacGillvary, “Family-Friendly Workplaces: Do Unions Make a Difference?” UC Berkley Labor Center, July 2009. http://laborcenter.berkeley.edu/jobquality/familyfriendly09.pdf

[67] Rettig, Jim and Greg Worrell.  “Libraries Stand to Help in Tough Economic Times,” The Huffington Post, December 11, 2008.  Available at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jim-rettig/libraries-stand-ready-to_b_150268.html

[68] The American Library Association, “The State of America’s Libraries: A Report by the American Library Association.” 2013. American Libraries. http://www.ala.org/news/sites/ala.org.news/files/content/2013-State-of-Americas-Libraries-Report.pdf

[69] Ibid.

[70] Ibid.

[71] Ibid.

[72] Metropolitan Workers Council, AFL-CIO. “Union Members Applaud Move By PG County Council to Boost Budget by $2.5 Million for Libraries”, Union City, June 2, 2013. Available at: http://www.dclabor.org/ht/display/ArticleDetails/i/108518

[73] Ibid.

 

For more information about professional and technical workers, please visit DPE’s website:  www.dpeaflcio.org.

 

The Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO (DPE) comprises 21 AFL-CIO unions representing over four million people working in professional and technical occupations. DPE-affiliated unions represent: teachers, college professors, and school administrators; library workers; nurses, doctors, and other health care professionals; engineers, scientists, and IT workers; journalists and writers, broadcast technicians and communications specialists; performing and visual artists; professional athletes; professional firefighters; psychologists, social workers, and many others. DPE was chartered by the AFL-CIO in 1977 in recognition of the rapidly growing professional and technical occupations.

 

Source:

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Contact:

Jennifer Dorning                                                                                                                                                                                                 May 2013
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