February 16, 2018

Placements & Salaries 2012: Types of Placements

As with overall trends, specifics related to type of agency and job responsibility likewise offer other images and measures of professional achievement. Public libraries, for example, while hard-hit by economic pressures, experienced modest growth in the percentage of overall placements. In 2010, public libraries lost jobs due to hiring freezes, early retirements, and attrition, dropping to 22.8% of the overall placements (compared to 24.2% in 2009); placements in 2011 in these same types of libraries recovered and comprised 25.5% of the overall placements. Surprisingly, however, in areas where strong placements might be anticipated, such as children’s services, there were declines. In 2010, children’s librarians made up 7.3% of the jobs with an average starting salary of $35,211; these same children’s librarians made up 4.1% of the overall placements in 2011, reversing the gains made between 2009 and 2010. On the slightly brighter side, children’s librarian salaries were 5.4% higher than the previous year, averaging $37,229, though this remains somewhat lower than the overall average of $44,565.

Meanwhile, school library media specialist positions were another area of serious concern in 2011. Graduates reported the reduction or outright elimination of library media positions in public school districts across the United States and that in many areas specialty educators, such as school librarians, music teachers, and art teachers, were hired at the last minute after other budget decisions were finalized, occasionally after the new school year officially began. School librarians comprised 13.5% of the overall placements in 2011, down from 15.4% in 2010. The decline was most readily apparent in the Southwest, where placements fell from 17.1% in 2010 to 9.7% in 2011. Salaries among new school librarians contracted by approximately 2% in 2011, averaging $44,515 and losing $900 from the previous year. The mild positive note was the 9.6% increase in salaries for school library media specialists in the Midwest ($44,404 in 2011 compared to $40,150 in 2010). New school librarians emphasized the need to know the hiring cycle for school systems as well as ensuring that teaching credentials were current.

Special libraries recovered a slim margin of the losses from 2010, with placements improving from 5.1% in 2010 to 6.1% in 2011, helped along by an increase in filled positions in the Midwest and the West. Salaries for special librarians also underwent recovery, with new graduates earning $45,659 in 2011, regaining the decline of 2010 ($41,791) and exceeding the levels of 2009 ($43,090) by 5.6%. Graduates seeking jobs in special libraries looked toward archives and special collections as having comparable job functions and also considered positions in academic special libraries, such as academic law libraries, as viable options. The job functions in special libraries ranged from traditional roles related to reference and archival functions to emerging roles in digital curation and digital content management. As in public libraries, these new information professionals—not all describe themselves as librarians—enjoy the challenge of having multiple responsibilities and exposure to numerous units within their places of employment.

Likewise, public librarians suggested that multitasking is the new norm, while assignment to one specific department or function is becoming less common and making it more difficult to describe their job with a single title or job focus.

Graduates reported slightly more jobs in administration (directors, managers, coordinators, etc.), comprising 4.3% of the reported placements in 2011 (compared to 3% in 2010). More important than the numbers of placements, administrative salaries expanded by 20.2%, from $39,072 in 2010 to an average of $48,979, well above the overall average for salaries in 2011 (9% higher). Noteworthy, however, is the indication that not all of the administrative jobs were in libraries, but spread among nonprofit organizations and private industry as well as libraries. Administrative jobs were reported in academic units outside of the university library as well as administration in government agencies; while they were not traditional library-related jobs, they required that graduates use the leadership and management skills developed through their degree programs.

Reference/information services were one job type that exhibited major changes in numbers, job function, and salary. Reports of reference as a primary job function declined from 23.8% of the placements in 2010 to 14.7% in 2011. This drop, however, can be deceiving; reference is one of the jobs that graduates describe with multiple functions, including combined with instruction, collection development/maintenance, or administration. Graduates indicated that they needed to exhibit skills related to teaching as well as respond to reference queries during job interviews; they also had to be prepared to work within a learning or information commons environment where the focus is on the students’ individualized needs. Not surprisingly, nearly half (47.1%) of the new reference librarians were hired by academic libraries in 2011, followed by public libraries (32.6%). Reference service is also one of the functions that solo librarians frequently point to as integral to their day-to-day responsibilities. A small cadre (approximately 1%) described conducting targeted searches and research analysis for clients, and performing the same types of services as reference librarians. Reference skills and duties are also encompassed in jobs related to electronic and digital services, including data management and development of scholarly repositories. However, while numbers may have drifted off the highs of previous years, the reported average salary for reference librarians has increased by 10.8%, to $45,690 in 2011 (slightly higher than the national average for all new graduates).

Eye on the “other”

Jobs in other sectors outside of LIS, including private industry, were up once again, increasing to 18.3% of the reported placements in 2011. The grads found themselves spread among nonprofit agencies (17.3%), private industry (30%), and other types of agencies, such as law, retail, or finance (52.7%). This offers good news about making ends meet but can prolong the frustration of finding a job that matches the master’s degree.

The graduates employed in nonprofit agencies were among the winners in salary increases in 2011, which came as a surprise, with an average annual rate of $43,093. This is a 27.5% salary differential between 2010 and 2011. Among the various roles that the LIS grads played in nonprofit organizations were impact analyst, prospect research analyst, and community relations coordinator at agencies such as the American Red Cross and AmeriCorps, as well as in museums, archives, and not-for-profit health-care agencies.

The largest proportion of the nonprofit placements were located in the Northeast (36.7%), featuring slightly better than average salaries ($45,071). By comparison, placements declined in private industry, dropping from 9.4% of reported jobs in 2010 to 5.4% in 2011. Annual salaries in private industry followed suit, coming in at an average of $51,897 compared to $56,526 in 2010 and a high of $58,194 in 2008. However, the private sector also held some of the highest paying jobs, ranging from $100,000 to $180,000 annually. User interface design, analytics, software engineering, and digital asset management were among the most frequently identified roles in private sector jobs, with graduates landing in biotech firms, hospitals, high-tech companies, advertising and marketing, and publishing. Like the nonprofits, graduates in the Northeast claimed the largest proportion of private sector jobs (37.5%), mirroring the trend of 2010 (32.6%); however, the highest salaries in private industry were obtained in the Midwest ($53,217 compared to the average salary for all private industry placements of $51,897 and $50,148 in the Northeast).

Finding employment outside of the LIS professions became a delicate balancing act for many. Besides jobs in nonprofits and private industry, the graduating class also found employment in an array of “other” agencies but often using the skills learned during their master’s degree programs. These included working with medical records; public radio and television; fundraising and grant writing; and local, state, and federal government agencies as well as in other academic units within institutions of higher education. On the flip side, they also felt obligated to accept positions as clerical and secretarial employees, food service workers, and retail clerks in order to meet the monthly bills and pay the rent, and they expressed serious frustration in not finding employment reflecting their academic achievements. However, salaries did not completely mirror the disparity among the status of the positions, with an average starting salary of $47,604. While some graduates reported annual salaries well below the national average, salaries in the other agencies were boosted up by the types of positions the grads obtained, including jobs related to information and communication technology, e-commerce, and publishing.

Table 6 Salaries of Reporting Professionals* by Area of Job Assignment

AssignmentNo.% of TotalLow Salary ($)High Salary ($)Average Salary ($)Median Salary ($)
Access Services191.10%34,00053,50041,90139,751
Adult Services382.10%12,00050,00037,76538,800
Cataloging & Classification744.10%19,00070,00039,30339,500
Children's Services744.10%18,00053,12437,22937,500
Collection Development170.90%18,00080,00043,96140,000
Database Management221.20%28,00084,00049,38541,000
Electronic or Digital Services653.60%13,00088,00044,36645,000
Government Documents40.20%23,00054,50041,87144,992
Information Architecture110.60%41,00084,00062,64365,000
Info Technology663.70%20,800110,00056,38852,475
Interlibrary Loans/Document Delivery201.10%22,00048,00035,59739,250
Knowledge Management130.70%30,00068,00049,49648,250
Public Services351.90%20,80061,00040,52341,500
Records Management170.90%34,00070,00045,77343,000
Reference/Info Services26514.70%15,000129,00045,69044,000
School Library Media Specialist1789.90%12,00071,00045,22144,350
Solo Librarian573.20%14,50070,00040,40840,000
Technical Services362.00%15,60060,00040,31341,000
Usability/User Experiences462.60%30,000100,00056,97157,750
Web Design/Development60.30%37,75095,00068,55070,000
Youth Services553.10%10,00072,50038,27738,906
*This table represents placements of any type reported by job assignment, but only salaries reported as full-time. Some individuals omitted placement information, rendering some information unusable. Comparison with other tables will show different numbers of placements.

Table 7a Comparison of Salaries by Type of Organization -- Public Libraries

Public LibrariesTotal PlacementsSalaries: WomenSalaries: MenLow Salary: Women ($)Low Salary: Men ($)High Salary: Women ($)High Salary: Men ($)Average Salary: Women ($)Average Salary: Men ($)Average Salary: All ($)Median Salary: Women ($)Median Salary: Men ($)Median Salary: All ($)
All Public43018336$10,000$15,000$92,000$55,000$37,168$38,847$37,399$38,000$38,750$38,000
Northeast108356$20,800 $41,000 $60,000 $55,000 $41,016 $49,325 $42,083 $42,000 $51,475 $42,500

Table 7b Comparison of Salaries by Type of Organization -- School Libraries

School LibrariesTotal PlacementsSalaries: WomenSalaries: MenLow Salary: Women ($)Low Salary: Men ($)High Salary: Women ($)High Salary: Men ($)Average Salary: Women ($)Average Salary: Men ($)Average Salary: All ($)Median Salary: Women ($)Median Salary: Men ($)Median Salary: All ($)
All School22715312$12,000 $22,000 $71,000 $60,000 $44,536 $44,250 $44,515 $44,000 $44,000 $44,000
Northeast83563$20,000 $22,000 $65,000 $52,000 $46,923 $38,667 $46,503 $46,350 $42,000 $46,000
Southeast35255$28,000 $40,000 $60,000 $42,000 $41,953 $41,000 $41,883 $40,000 $41,000 $40,000
Midwest58396$12,000 $38,000 $71,000 $50,000 $44,236 $45,500 $44,404 $43,000 $45,500 $44,000
Southwest22151$32,400 $60,000 $55,000 $60,000 $45,008 $60,000 $45,945 $47,000 $60,000 $47,313
West2215$20,000 $65,000 $40,878 $40,878 $41,500 $41,500
Canada/International22$32,000 $49,000 $40,500 $40,500 $40,500 $40,500

Table 7c Comparison of Salaries by Type of Organization -- College and University Libraries

College/University LibrariesTotal PlacementsSalaries: WomenSalaries: MenLow Salary: Women ($)Low Salary: Men ($)High Salary: Women ($)High Salary: Men ($)Average Salary: Women ($)Average Salary: Men ($)Average Salary: All ($)Median Salary: Women ($)Median Salary: Men ($)Median Salary: All ($)
All Academic47123386$15,000 $13,000 $110,000 $121,647 $42,936 $45,787 $43,554 $41,000 $45,750 $42,000
Northeast1456322$15,000 $22,000 $75,000 $121,647 $41,723 $48,370 $43,443 $40,352 $45,500 $42,000
Southeast754413$24,000 $18,700 $110,000 $88,000 $45,739 $51,323 $47,182 $42,000 $49,100 $42,500
Midwest1266628$20,000 $13,000 $100,000 $61,000 $40,527 $41,255 $40,744 $39,500 $42,000 $40,000
Southwest341612$25,000 $23,000 $53,364 $67,000 $39,918 $48,939 $43,388 $40,000 $49,194 $45,250
West733512$24,000 $32,000 $66,000 $55,000 $47,481 $42,901 $46,207 $49,000 $44,000 $47,000
Canada/International631$31,500 $47,000 $57,628 $47,000 $45,376 $47,000 $45,782 $47,000 $47,000 $47,000

Table 7d Comparison of Salaries by Type of Organization -- Special Libraries

Special LibrariesTotal PlacementsSalaries: WomenSalaries: MenLow Salary: Women ($)Low Salary: Men ($)High Salary: Women ($)High Salary: Men ($)Average Salary: Women ($)Average Salary: Men ($)Average Salary: All ($)Median Salary: Women ($)Median Salary: Men ($)Median Salary: All ($)
All Special104649$20,800 $25,000 $80,000 $150,000 $45,079 $49,786 $45,659 $45,000 $39,000 $43,275
Northeast38204$30,100 $25,000 $70,000 $150,000 $46,161 $60,500 $48,551 $43,000 $33,500 $40,500
Southeast108$33,000 $67,000 $46,613 $46,613 $45,000 $45,000
Midwest31173$20,800 $30,070 $80,000 $53,000 $43,649 $43,690 $43,665 $43,275 $48,000 $45,138
Southwest852$32,000 $36,000 $52,000 $39,000 $39,792 $37,500 $39,137 $37,960 $37,500 $37,960
West1512$31,500 $72,000 $46,579 $46,579 $46,500 $46,500
Canada/International22$39,000 $50,000 $44,500 $44,500 $44,500 $44,500

Table 7e Comparison of Salaries by Type of Organization -- Government Libraries

Government LibrariesTotal PlacementsSalaries: WomenSalaries: MenLow Salary: Women ($)Low Salary: Men ($)High Salary: Women ($)High Salary: Men ($)Average Salary: Women ($)Average Salary: Men ($)Average Salary: All ($)Median Salary: Women ($)Median Salary: Men ($)Median Salary: All ($)
All Government34234$26,000 $42,000 $72,000 $62,000 $38,833 $54,875 $47,159 $44,000 $57,750 $44,000
Northeast1171$26,000 $53,500 $64,690 $53,500 $40,155 $53,500 $41,823 $38,000 $53,500 $38,197
Southeast1393$35,000 $42,000 $72,000 $62,000 $45,812 $55,333 $48,193 $44,000 $62,000 $45,750
Midwest32$37,000 $37,000 $37,000 $37,000 $37,000 $37,000
Southwest21$55,000 $55,000 $55,000 $55,000 $55,000 $55,000
West32$54,000 $56,400 $55,200 $55,200 $55,200 $55,200
Canada/International11$51,000 $51,000 $51,000 $51,000 $51,000 $51,000

Table 7f Comparison of Salaries by Type of Organization -- Archives

ArchivesTotal PlacementsSalaries: WomenSalaries: MenLow Salary: Women ($)Low Salary: Men ($)High Salary: Women ($)High Salary: Men ($)Average Salary: Women ($)Average Salary: Men ($)Average Salary: All ($)Median Salary: Women ($)Median Salary: Men ($)Median Salary: All ($)
All Archives49324$21,000 $34,900 $57,000 $53,000 $38,133 $42,825 $38,654 $37,500 $41,700 $37,750
Northeast12101$24,000 $39,900 $50,000 $39,900 $39,410 $39,900 $39,455 $39,900 $39,900 $39,900
Southeast1061$25,000 $34,900 $57,000 $34,900 $38,333 $34,900 $37,843 $37,000 $34,900 $36,000
Midwest1692$21,000 $43,500 $55,000 $53,000 $35,573 $48,250 $37,878 $35,000 $48,250 $35,560
Southwest44$25,000 $48,000 $37,250 $37,250 $38,000 $38,000
West73$38,000 $47,000 $42,333 $42,333 $42,000 $42,000

Table 7g Comparison of Salaries by Type of Organization -- Vendors

VendorsTotal PlacementsSalaries: WomenSalaries: MenLow Salary: Women ($)Low Salary: Men ($)High Salary: Women ($)High Salary: Men ($)Average Salary: Women ($)Average Salary: Men ($)Average Salary: All ($)Median Salary: Women ($)Median Salary: Men ($)Median Salary: All ($)
All Vendors18112$20,000 $40,000 $70,000 $50,000 $40,545 $45,000 $41,500 $38,000 $45,000 $39,000
Northeast1061$20,000 $40,000 $70,000 $40,000 $42,167 $40,000 $42,450 $39,000 $40,000 $40,000
Southeast31$33,000 $33,000 $33,000 $33,000 $33,000 $33,000
Midwest33$30,000 $55,000 $40,667 $40,667 $37,000 $37,000
West211$38,000 $50,000 $38,000 $50,000 $38,000 $50,000 $44,000 $38,000 $50,000 $44,000

Table 7h Comparison of Salaries by Type of Organization -- Other Organizations

Other OrganizationsTotal PlacementsSalaries: WomenSalaries: MenLow Salary: Women ($)Low Salary: Men ($)High Salary: Women ($)High Salary: Men ($)Average Salary: Women ($)Average Salary: Men ($)Average Salary: All ($)Median Salary: Women ($)Median Salary: Men ($)Median Salary: All ($)
All Other35113250$12,000 $24,960 $180,000 $125,000 $44,241 $58,618 $48,266 $41,000 $52,000 $43,000
Northeast1004924$19,000 $24,960 $80,000 $96,000 $42,128 $62,533 $49,014 $41,000 $63,500 $45,000
Southeast52218$25,000 $35,000 $70,000 $100,000 $42,657 $55,250 $46,131 $42,000 $46,500 $43,000
Midwest59267$24,000 $26,000 $70,000 $125,000 $41,365 $60,587 $45,500 $39,500 $54,000 $41,000
Southwest32116$23,000 $34,500 $48,000 $66,000 $35,165 $51,250 $49,842 $33,280 $42,000 $37,531
West48204$12,000 $40,000 $97,000 $84,000 $52,753 $52,900 $52,778 $50,000 $43,800 $48,750
Canada/International511$37,382 $43,000 $37,382 $43,000 $37,382 $43,000 $40,191 $37,382 $43,000 $40,191
These tables represents only full-time salaries and placements reported by type. Some individuals omitted placement information, rendering some information unusable.
*Comparison with other tables will show different numbers of total placements due to completeness of the data reported by individuals and schools. Totals within the table represent all reported placement data but will not necessarily correspond to regional or gender breakdown

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Stephanie L. Maatta About Stephanie L. Maatta

Stephanie Maatta, Ph.D. (es7746@wayne.edu), is an Assistant Professor at Wayne State University School of Library Information Science, Detroit

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