Okay folks, it’s time to talk about one of those things they usually don’t cover in library school: job benefits. As any employer can tell you, the cost of your benefits is considerable (or at least, usually it is, if you have halfway decent benefits, and most libraries do provide at least that). Which means your employment provides you with stuff to which you may not pay a lot of attention…until you’re up against a problem and really need that safety net.
For many, salary discussion is the last taboo. But without knowing how their peers are compensated, it can be hard for librarians to make their case for better pay—and hard for library leaders to make the case to funders that higher salaries are necessary to attract and retain the best candidates. LJ has, for years, conducted its annual Placements & Salaries survey, which focuses on recent graduates, to dig into what beginning librarians earn in their first positions and what trends those salaries reveal. Now, with the help of more than 3,200 public, academic, school, special, government, and consortium librarians from all 50 states, LJ’s inaugural salary survey for U.S. librarians and paralibrarians takes a deeper look at the range of the field’s salary potential.
More data from LJ’s inaugural salary survey
Data from LJ’s inaugural salary survey presented in tabular format
So I was at the Information Desk in Widener not long ago, and business was uncharacteristically slow (the thing I like best about working the Information Desk is that it’s usually hoppingly busy, and the kinds of questions that come in range from, “Where’s the bathroom?” to “Can you help me locate this 16th-century manuscript that’s essential for my thesis?”) when my friend and colleague, Joshua Parker, stopped by to say hello. Our discussions always cover a host of topics, but a favorite is about kinds of organizational structures (if you read the post linked from Joshua’s name you’ll see that he is that rare bird, a library manager mensch). He had some noteworthy things to say and some useful resources to recommend for reading, which I’ve found interesting and which I’m going to pass on to you folks. They’re not your usual library organization or management titles, however.
Could we talk about skill and competency lists, please? They’re everywhere, inescapable as change. Professional organizations have made dozens. Dozens more come from the LIS literature, as content analyses of collections of job ads or position descriptions. Whatever job you do or want to do in libraries, someone’s made a list of the skills you must supposedly have mastered.
When I attended a non-library event recently, I was introduced to the group as a librarian, whereupon one of the assemblage enthused, “you must love to read!” to which I replied, “I do—but I don’t get to do much of it at work.” “What do you do at work, then?” was the very reasonable followup question. I talked about database searching, and teaching, and serving at public desks, and giving researcher tours, and doing research consultations, and giving presentations, and serving on committees, and keeping statistics for all of this…and by that time the querent’s eyes were glazed over and they very probably regretted asking what they thought was a no-brainer question.
n my last column I summarized what “a slew of library managers” told me they do to develop professionally, as well as what they’d like their direct reports to do in the area of professional development. This time around I’ve asked a bunch of front-line librarians (public, academic, special, public services, tech services, special collections, etc.) what they’re actually doing in terms of professional development. After summarizing their responses, I’ll do a little comparison between the different sets of replies.