Library Workers: Facts & Figures

Fact Sheet 2015

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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, diversity within the professions, education attainment of library workers, the role of women in the professions, issues of pay and pay equity, and the union difference for library staff.

An Overview of Library Professionals and Libraries

    • In 2014, there were 198,000 librarians, 36,000 library technicians, and 98,000 library assistants employed.[1] Generally, a “librarian” is a person who holds at least 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.
    • From 2007 through 2014, employment among librarians, library technicians, and library assistants shrank from 380,000 to 332,000.
    • The mean annual earnings of librarians in 2014 were $58,110.[4]Employment 2015
    • The mean hourly wage of library technicians was $16.10 in 2014. [5]
    • Library assistants earned a mean hourly wage of $12.51 in 2014.[6]
    • In fiscal year 2012, public libraries circulated 2.43 billion materials and offered four million programs, attended by 93 million members of the public. Children’s programs accounted for 60 percent of all programs offered.[7] In a 2013 Pew Research survey, “90 percent of the respondents said that libraries are important to the community, and 76 percent said that libraries are important to them and their families.”[8]
    • Public libraries provided access to 273,000 computers with internet access in 2012. Library patrons used these computers over 341 million times during that fiscal year.[9] In 2012, 62 percent of libraries reported that they provided the only free public internet access in their community.[10]


Employment of Library Professionals

    • Most librarians, 57 percent, worked in school and academic libraries in 2013. Nearly 30 percent of librarians worked in public libraries. The remainder worked in special libraries, including businesses, law firms, nonprofits, and scientific organizations.[11]
    • In 2014, 21 percent of librarians worked part-time.[12] Public and college librarians often work weekends and evenings, as well as some holidays.[13] School librarians usually have the same workday and vacation schedules as classroom teachers.[14] Special librarians usually work normal business hours, but in fast-paced industries such as advertising or legal services, often work longer hours when needed.[15]
    • More than half of all library technicians and 59 percent library assistants were employed by local governments in public libraries; many other library technicians and assistants work in school libraries.[16] Among library technicians, 70 percent worked part-time and 59 percent of library assistants worked part-time in 2013.[17]
    • Employment of public K-12 school librarians has continued to drop. In the fall of 2012, public elementary and secondary schools employed just over 46,500 full-time or equivalent librarians. This is down from peak employment of public school librarians in the fall of 2001 when nearly 54,500 were employed.[18] The ratio of pupils per librarian has gone from 877:1 in the fall of 2001 to 1,066:1 in the fall of 2012.[19]


Diversity among Library WorkersDiversity 2015

According to a 2007 American Library Association report, there is a persistent lag in racial diversity and people with disabilities among librarians.[20]

  • Librarians were predominately non-Hispanic Whites, about 86 percent in 2014. Library technicians and assistants have increased diversity. Among library assistants in 2014, about 79 percent were non-Hispanic Whites.[21]
  • In 2014, just 3.6 percent of librarians were Black or African American, 5.7 percent were Hispanic or Latino, and 2.4 percent were Asian.[22]
  • Among all workers in education, training, and library occupations, Black and African American professionals made up 10.3 percent of the workforce, while Hispanic and Asians represented 9.5 percent and 4.4 Age 2015percent of the education workforce, respectively.[23]
  • In 2013, 42 percent of librarians, 30 percent of library technicians, and 33 percent of library assistants were over the age of 55.[24]


Education Attainment

Many library workers, including lower paid library technicians and library assistants have high education attainment. In 2013, eight percent of library technicians reported having earned an associate’s degree; 16 percent had a bachelor’s degree; and eight percent had a master’s degree or higher. Among library assistants in 2013, 10 percent reported having earned an associate’s degree; 25 percent had earned a bachelor’s degree; and nine percent had earned a master’s degree or higher.

Among librarians in 2013, 56 percent had earned a master’s degree or higher and 25 percent reported their highest degree completed was a bachelor’s degree.[25]

Women and Library Work

  • In 2014, women accounted for 84.8 percent of all librarians, well above the average of 74.1 percent for all education and library professionals.[26] Women have traditionally made up a majority of the library profession. In 1995, women were 83.9 percent of librarians; in 2003, women were 84.4 percent of the librarian workforce.
  • Women represented 81 percent of graduates in Masters of Library Science (MLS) programs in 2012-2013. Black women were 3.5 percent of all MLS graduates, while Hispanic and Asian women accounted for five and 2.8 percent of the 2013 class, respectively.[27]


The Wage Gap and Library Worker Earnings

Pay inequity remains a persistent and pervasive problem in our society. In 2014, median weekly earnings for women were 83 percent of Earnings for full-time library workers 2015men’s earnings.[28] 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 2014.[29] Hispanic and Latina women earned just 63 cents for every dollar men earned.[30] Asian women reported the highest median salary, earning 97 cents on the dollar compared to all men.[31] However, they earned only 78 percent of that reported by Asian men.[32]

Despite the fact that the library profession is predominantly female, a wage gap still exists:

  • In 2013, women working as full-time librarians reported a median annual salary of $48,005, compared to $51,879 for men.[33] A pay gap of 93 percent.
  • The disparity was even more staggering among library technicians where women earned $31,014 per year, compared to men who earned $38,063 per year (an 82 percent gap). However, the margin of error for men’s salaries was high, since there were few men in the sample.
  • Among librarians working 35 hours a week or more in colleges, universities, and professional schools, including junior colleges, women earned 91 percent of what men earned in 2013.[34] Women, on average, were 3.5 years older than their male counterparts, but lagged behind in attainment of professional degrees and PhDs. However, very few librarians, male or female, working full-time in higher education held professional degrees or PhDs.[35]
  • The pay gap affects Black librarians working in higher education as well. In 2013, Black librarians working full-time earned just 89 percent of that of their White counterparts.[36]

The American Library Association-Allied Professional Association published the Advocating for Better Salaries Toolkit in April 2014. One section of the toolkit addresses how librarians can address pay equity issues in their library.[37]

Regional Variance in Salaries

Nationally, the mean annual wage for librarians was $58,110 in 2014.[38] Wages vary significantly from state to state. The mean annual wage in Washington, D.C. topped the list at $80,280 followed by California, Connecticut, Alaska, and New Jersey. The average annual mean wage of these five states was $71,140 in 2014. The five lowest paying states were South Dakota, Idaho, Oklahoma, Mississippi, and West Virginia where the average annual wage among the five states was $42,956.[39]These salaries were not adjusted for differences in cost of living across states.

Institutional Variance in Salaries

Library staff salaries also vary based on the type of library employer: government, postsecondary, or elementary and secondary school.

  • Librarians employed by local governments earned a mean salary of $52,590 in 2014. Elementary and secondary school librarians earned a mean salary of $59,790 in 2014. Librarians in colleges, universities, and professional schools earned an average of $63,420 in 2014.[40]
  • Among library technicians in 2014, those employed by local governments earned a mean hourly wage of $15.46, those employed in elementary and secondary schools earned $15.02 per hour, and colleges and universities paid an average of $18.64 per hour.[41]
  • Library assistants were the lowest paid library workers in 2014. Local governments paid an hourly mean wage of $12.04, elementary and secondary schools paid $12.86, and colleges and universities paid a mean hourly wage of $14.51 to library assistants in 2014.[42]


Health Benefits

  • In 2013, 83 percent of librarians had health insurance through a current or former employer or union. Librarians employed by state governments had the highest rate of employer or union health insurance coverage, 85 percent. Librarians employed by private-for-profit companies had the lowest rate of coverage, 73 percent.[43]
  • Among library technicians in 2013, just 66 percent received health insurance through a current or former employer or union. Most library technicians were employed by local governments in 2013, but just 65 percent of library technicians employed by local governments received employer or union health insurance. Library technicians employed by private, for-profit companies had the lowest rate of employer provided health insurance, 63 percent. Among library technicians in 2013, 12 percent received Medicaid, medical assistance or some other kind of government assistance. Ten percent were uninsured.[44]
  • Library assistants had coverage similar to that of library technicians. Nearly 68 percent had employer-provided health insurance in 2013. Private for-profit employers only provided health insurance to 58 percent of employees. Nearly 16 percent of library assistants employed by for-profit libraries were uninsured and eight percent received government assistance for health insurance.[45]


The Union Difference

Unions are an important way for library professionals to negotiate collectively for better wages, hours, and working conditions. Unions work to elevate library professions and secure working conditions that make it possible to provide professional service.

  • In 2014, workers in education, training, and library occupations had the highest unionization rate for any professional occupation group, 35.3 percent.[46]
  • In 2014, 23.4 percent of librarians were union members.[47]
  • In 2014, among library technicians, 16.2 percent were union members.[48]
  • Among library assistants, 18 percent were union members in 2014.[49]
  • Nearly 21 percent of other education, training, and library workers were union members in 2014.[50]


Wages and BenefitsUnion advantage 2015

Librarians and library workers have leveraged their collective voices to earn fair wages and stronger benefits. Wages and benefits earned by union librarians and library workers are more commensurate with the skilled and professional nature of library work.

In 2014, librarians who were union members earned 25 percent ($221) more per week than their non-union counterparts.[51] While there has been a lot of volatility in wages reported by librarians, likely due to economic factors that affect library funding, it has paid to be a union librarian.

  • In 2014, union library assistants earned 50 percent more than their non-union counterparts.[52]
  • In 2014, union members in education, training, and library occupations earned an average of 23 percent more than their non-union counterparts.[53]
  • Union salary data was not available for library technicians in 2014. In 2009, the last year comparative data was available, union library technicians earned 49 percent more than their non-union counterparts.[54]
  • Union workers are more likely than their non-union counterparts to be covered by a retirement plan, health insurance, and paid sick leave. In 2014, 94 percent of union members in the civilian workforce had access to a retirement plan, compared with only 64 percent of non-union workers. Similarly, 94 percent of union members had access to employer provided health insurance, compared to 68 percent of non-union workers in 2014. In 2014, 83 percent of union members in the civilian workforce had access to paid sick leave compared to 62 percent of non-union workers.[55]


Recent Union Success Stories

Librarians represented by the American Federation of Teachers in the University of California system negotiated fair pay increases and a dedicated professional development fund for the represented librarians. The professional development fund sets an annual minimum of nearly $280,000 for the 345 represented librarians. The contract is effective from 2013 to 2018.[56]

In 2013, the Prince George’s County, Maryland executive’s proposal to cut $820,000 from the Prince George’s County library system turned into a $2.5 million add back thanks to members of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1994. Union members advocated for their library and their patrons at county council meetings as well as during one-on-one meetings with council members. Local 1994 members educated council members about the devastating impact budget cuts have on libraries and communities. The budget increase was used to increase library hours on Sundays, increase staff wages, and hire new staff.[57]

For more information on professional and technical workers, check the DPE website: www.dpeaflcio.org.

The Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO (DPE) comprises 22 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.

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Source:
DPE Research Department
815 16th Street, N.W., 7th Floor
Washington, DC 20006

Contact:
Jennifer Dorning                                                                                                                                                                                                       June 2015
(202) 683-0320 extension 114
jdorning@dpeaflcio.org

 

[1] U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employed persons by detailed occupation, sex, race, and Hispanic or Latino ethnicity, Table 11. 2014.
[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] U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, “Librarians,” Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014.
[5] U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, “Library Technicians,” Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014.
[6] U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, “Library Assistants,”
Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014.
[7] U.S. Census Bureau, DataFerrett, Public Libraries Survey, Administrative Entity, 2012.
[8] The American Library Association, “The State of America’s Libraries: A Report by the American Library Association.” 2014. American Libraries
[9] U.S. Census Bureau, DataFerrett, Public Libraries Survey, Administrative Entity, 2012.
[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 and Wages, May 2014, “Librarians.”
[12] Hirsch, Barry T. and David A. MacPherson, Union Membership and Earnings Data Book, Bloomberg BNA, 2015.
[13] Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, “Librarians.”
[14] Ibid.
[15] Ibid.
[16] 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.
[17] Hirsch, Barry T., op. cit.
[18] U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Statistics of State School Systems, various years; Statistics of Public Elementary and Secondary Schools, various years; and Common Core of Data (CCD), “State Nonfiscal Survey of Public Elementary/Secondary Education,” 1986-87 through 2012-13. Table 213.10. (The table was prepared October 2014.)
[19] Ibid.
[20] American Library Association, Office of Research and Statistics, Diversity Counts, January 2007.
[21] U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey, 2014, Table 11, “Employed persons by detailed occupation, sex, race, and Hispanic or Latino ethnicity.” Available at: http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat11.pdf.
[22] U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey, 2014, Table 11, op. cit.
[23] Ibid.
[24] U.S. Census Bureau, DataFerrett, American Community Survey, Public Use Microdata Sample 2013.
[25] U.S. Census Bureau, DataFerrett, American Community Survey, Public Use Microdata Sample 2013.
[26] U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey, Annual Averages, 2014, Table 11, op. cit.
[27] U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Fall 2012 and Fall 2013, Completions component. (This table was prepared September 2014.). Tables 323.50 and 323.30.
[28] 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.” 2014. Available at: http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat37.pdf.
[29] Ibid.
[30] Ibid.
[31] Ibid.
[32] Ibid.
[33] U.S. Census Bureau, Industry and Occupation, Table Packages “Full-Time, Year-Round Workers and Median Earnings in the Past 12 Months by Sex and Detailed Occupation: 2013.” http://www.census.gov/people/io/publications/table_packages.html?eml=gd&utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery
[34] U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, Public Use Microdata Sample, 2013.
[35] U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, Public Use Microdata Sample, 2013.
[36] U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, Public Use Microdata Sample, 2013.
[37] See: http://ala-apa.org/files/2014/05/2014-ALA-APA-BETTER-SALARIES-TOOLKIT-2.pdf
[38] U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, “Librarians,” May 2014. Available at: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes254021.htm
[39] U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014. Available at http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes254021.htm.
[40] U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, “Librarians,” May 2014.
[41] U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, “Library Technicians,” May 2014.
[42] U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, “Library Assistants,” May 2014.
[43] U.S. Census Bureau, DataFerrett, American Community Survey, Public Use Microdata, 2013.
[44] Ibid.
[45] Ibid.
[46] U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Table 42. Union affiliation of employed wage and salary workers by occupation and industry.” 2014.
[47] Hirsch, Barry T., op. cit.
[48] Ibid.
[49] Ibid.
[50] Ibid.
[51] Ibid.
[52] Ibid.
[53] Ibid.
[54] Hirsch, Barry T. and David A. Macpherson, “Union Membership and Earnings Data Book,” The Bureau of National Affairs, 2010.
[55] U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employee Benefits in the United States, March 2014.
[56] See the current University of California contract at: http://ucnet.universityofcalifornia.edu/labor/bargaining-units/lx/contract.html
[57] 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