The LJ 2008 Placements & Salary Survey is out. Read all about it ! I don’t think I’ve ever seen it before, but for some strange reason I’m noticing the Library Journal more than I used to. Not sure what’s up with that. I’ll have to start scanning it to find stuff to be annoyed about.
Regarding the salary survey, I’m not particularly annoyed, just puzzled. Why does anyone go to library school? The "good news" is that the average starting salary for new library school graduates has risen to $42,361. That’s not too shabby considering one only needs a college degree plus a "graduate" degree. No, wait, I take that back. That is pretty shabby, especially when you consider some of these "new" librarians are moving to librarianship because they’ve already failed in some other career, er, I mean they’ve decided that librarianship is a much more rewarding field than whatever rewarding field they left. Librarianship does seem to be the field, though, for those who’ve failed at everything else in life. I know it was for me! Personally, it’s not the low pay that attracted me but the low standards. Makes it easy to stand out.
If it’s not the low standards and the failure at everything else, how can we explain why people enter this field? Get a master’s degree, earn $42K? Hardly seems worth it, especially if you’re one of those poor fools who actually paid full price to go to library school. How many of those students came out owing more in loans than their annual salary? That’s why I wear the black.
And it’s not like these low-paying jobs are growing on trees, either. Unlike back in my day, when I had a high-paying, tenure-track job well before library school graduation, some of these poor people had to work hard for their little money. Check this out. "More than a few graduates shared their stories of many, many interviews but very few real job offers. The overall length of time from graduation to landing a professional position increased from four-and-a-half months in 2006 to just shy of five months in 2007, and some were still looking over a year after graduation." Five months to find a job? What’s up with that? Were they thinking, "I’ve just got to get a job in that hick town I grew up in! Or I’ll just die!"
The children’s librarians have it worst. "Average starting salaries for youth services librarians decreased 3.53%, to $35,929." That’s just sad. Those children’s librarians work very hard to ensure that our children have whatever it is that children’s librarians provide. It’s a pity that the market doesn’t value more highly the skills children’s librarians bring with them, like making posters and reading kid’s books in a really animated way. Investment banks were paying top dollar for those skills, until they all disappeared a week ago. But I guess they’re not in it for the money. They do it "for the children." It brings a warm glow to my withered little heart, it really does.
I also wondered what is up with those academic librarians. It seems that over 80% of them are taking non-tenure-track jobs. What are they thinking? I hope they realize this means they can get fired someday. Trust me, baby, you want tenure. That way when you get burned out, you can just coast the final ten years of your career while chuckling over all the young, earnest librarians who desperately want you to die off. It’s a good feeling.
The other interesting part for me was the section on I-schools v. L-schools in relation to salary. "Five of the iSchools Caucus members reported average starting salaries significantly above the overall averages (ranging from 9.6% higher to a whopping 31.9% higher)." This goes to show that it really does matter where you go to school. If you want to make the "big bucks," you’ve got to go the to right I- or L- school. I did, which is probably why I make more money than you.
Were I just entering the field, I wouldn’t find the results especially encouraging, but all ye who enter here don’t have to abandon all hope. It might look grim for some of you recent graduates, but the smart and talented among you will succeed and go on to live the library high life like the Annoyed Libarian. The rest? Well, let’s not think about them. I see reports like this, kick back in my corner office, look out at the park, sip my martini, and think how cushy I have it. It’s not a fair life, but it’s a good one.