There’s one story about librarians that you don’t see very often: the complaint that they’re being paid too much. Fortunately, we have Hawaii to thank for finally bringing us one of those stories.
University of Hawaii administrators are asking the Board of Regents to approve a salary of $195,000 for the UH Manoa’s next head librarian, a pay level that’s being criticized as “out of line” and “appalling” by some librarians, their union and a state lawmaker who’s been critical of UH spending choices.
Naturally, the union is upset. Several librarians have told the associate director of the union that, “We’re being denied access to our financial well being and basic resources but they offer this kind of salary to our administrator?”
Apparently, “librarians are angered at the proposed high pay for the new librarian, since UH administrators have told rank-and-file librarians there’s no money for librarians’ merit raises or to buy new materials and supplies.”
I think the lesson here is that if you want to make more money as a librarian, don’t bother with the union and go be a library director.
Another librarian, a 22-year veteran of the system, is “appalled at the huge discrepancy between faculty and administrators’ salaries.” Because that’s something unique to Hawaii libraries? Don’t administrators always make a lot more than the nonadministrative staff?
The same librarian “said she found out Friday that her request for a $3,000 “special salary adjustment” which she applied for last May had been denied based on “lack of funds.” She said other librarians of her rank and experience were making as much as $7,000 more a year than she was and so she applied for a small raise.”
Are rank and experience the only things relevant when negotiating salaries? Nope.
She’s the acting head of a collection replacing a retiree who made over $100,000, while she makes “less than $80,000” plus a $300/month stipend for replacing the retiree. That might be hard to live on in Hawaii. I wouldn’t know. But it doesn’t matter anyway.
One of the lessons so many librarians have yet to learn is that how much someone else makes, or how little you make, or how much you really want to make more money are completely irrelevant to your salary negotiations. What matters is how much the library wants you and is willing to pay.
Someone who’s been at a library for 22 years as a nonadministrative employee is never going to make anything near what a new library director is going to make. That’s just not how the world works. If you want more money, go get another job paying more money. If you can’t get that job, then you’re not underpaid.
Or you could try to get an offer with a higher salary from another library and ask your library to match it and hope they don’t say “Aloha.”
The Republican State Senator complaining about the proposed salary doesn’t seem very informed. He’s just looking for a excuse to complain. For example, university officials pointed out that the “salary is equivalent to that of deans or directors of other departments” His response?
“And the question is should the head of library services be equivalent to a dean in the first place? I think they have different job descriptions and I think they have different responsibilities.”
The world of informed people know that university library directors are often deans or the equivalent, and depending on the size of the library might have significantly more responsibilities than some other administrators. As if he could tell you what a dean does anyway. Good grief.
Another critics is a “freshman engineering student,” who complains, “So that does seem like a little bit more than maybe is fair. I can’t imagine she’s doing twice the work of upper-level people, upper-level librarians.”
I don’t even know how to respond to that. I can’t imagine she’s doing even half the work of the library’s custodians, but that’s not really the point, is it. 18-year-olds have such vast experience of the world it’s good to listen to their opinions, though.
What a sad waste of time for everyone involved. Librarians who think they’re underpaid would be better off spending their time trying to get better jobs than complaining that they aren’t paid enough or attacking other librarians who have been a lot more successful at salary negotiations than they have. Trying to make sure other librarians don’t make more money than you isn’t going to improve your salary.