Task Force Feedback on Better Salaries and Pay Equity
* MyName -A Public Librarian in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania
* Email -
* Comments - Many thanks to the Task Force for the work you're doing. I'm very glad to see ALA addressing the problem of low salaries in a serious way, and I'm hopeful that it will be the first step toward finding a solution to this longstanding problem.
Even the best studies I've seen understate the problem in my opinion.
Here's the reality from where I am. I've made less than $18,000 a year my first two years out of library school. I have no health insurance, no vacation or sick time, no benefits whatsoever.
I work 30 or so hours a week in one library, as an adult services librarian, in a racially diverse, suburban working-class area, where I'm paid $10.30 an hour. I also work 5 or so hours a week in a city library branch, where I'm paid a little over $16 an hour. It all adds up to about $1500 a month before taxes, and $160 of that goes to pay the interest on the student loans I incurred in library school. Health insurance for myself and my spouse, who works part-time while attending university, is simply unaffordable on what I'm paid.
Outside the better-funded city library system, where there's a more or less indefinite hiring freeze on professional positions, the large majority of non-administrative professional library jobs in this county are part-time and generally pay between $8 and $11 an hour. Some of the suburban district libraries probably just can't afford to pay more because of the lack of a local funding base, and indeed, many of them don't hire MLS librarians at all. However, at least a few could probably afford to pay decent salaries but choose not to. I've seen MLS positions advertised in some of the wealthiest suburbs in this county that pay $8 an hour. So I actually feel somewhat fortunate to be doing as well as I am.
I greatly enjoy my work, despite the financial difficulties. I've never regretted becoming a librarian, and I never want to do any other kind of work. I feel that I'm providing a high level of professional library service to people who need and deserve it, and that's a very satisfying feeling. But I'm never going to achieve any kind of financial security in the position I'm in, and most of the other positions around here don't pay any better. I made a decision in library school to work in public libraries, and I'm very strongly committed to the values and principles of public librarianship. However, I've come to the conclusion that I'm probably going to have to find an academic position if I'm ever going to make a decent living in this profession.
* ALAAnnual - nonattendee
* MyName - Eileen Coughlin Williams
* Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
* Comments - I am a full-time reference librarian at the Guilderland
Public Library in the Albany NY area. I finished my master's in '97 and
have been employed here for 5 years and make $27k/year. We are unionized
and I am the president of my unit. We are in contract negotiations right
now--our contract expires at the end of June.
I would like to contact someone about unions and salaries. We
negotiated a 20% salary increase in the last contract, but I was only
making $21k full-time! Please let me know who I can correspond with. And
I am also interested in getting involved in some way. Do you have a
Guilderland Public Library
Guilderland NY 12084
* ALAAnnual - nonattendee
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