March 16, 2018

Placements & Salaries 2013: The Emerging Databrarian

The real achievements for the 2012 library and information science graduating class came in the form of emerging jobs and new responsibilities, according to the approximately 1,900 graduates who responded to LJ’s annual Placements & Salaries survey, representing 30.7 percent of the 2012 graduates from the 41 participating programs.

Several new job titles appeared among the survey responses, including emerging technologies librarian, e-learning and distance learning librarian, and e-lending librarian. Social media manager and project manager were also among the popular job titles, and individuals who found positions in academic institutions were as likely to be instructional designers and user experience designers as they were to be reference librarians.

Emerging technology specialists (librarians as well as other information professionals) earned an average starting salary of $48,820 in 2012. This is the first year that sufficient data was obtained to allow tracking. They were placed in a variety of information organizations, including academic and public libraries, school media centers, government agencies, and private industry. As a whole, they described their responsibilities as researching, implementing, and training their constituents in the use of new technologies. Particularly for those in academic libraries, digital literacy education was a strong component of their role.

Another group of graduates identified their functions in digital content management. Metadata and information architecture were featured among the skills used to describe their jobs. Digital content managers/librarians reported direct responsibility for the digitization of existing works as well as making works that were “born digital” accessible through online catalogs, databases, and other systems. Similar to emerging technology specialists, roles in digital content management appear across the spectrum of libraries and information organizations and within and outside of the LIS professions. They reported an average starting salary of $49,571, approximately ten percent higher than the overall average for new LIS grads.

Even job descriptions for the traditional LIS roles have begun to articulate the need for skills related to emerging technologies and digital content from the entry level on up. Public librarians, for example, maintained their duties in adult services and children’s programming, but they also designed mobile applications and facilitated communication and outreach to the local community through a strong social media presence. Archivists also blended the traditional roles of organizing and describing physical materials with growing emphasis on digital collections and digital content management.

Exciting news in data curation

Another exciting area for LIS graduates is data curation. While a small subset of the graduating class, data curators command an average annual salary of $49,900. Among other operations, the individuals reporting jobs in data curation are designing and maintaining institutional repositories of research data. They also provide data analysis, or, in the words of one graduate, “data wrangling” of research and development activities for academic institutions and private industry, user statistics, and tracking of products and services. Research data librarian, data coordinator, and electronic resources specialist are among the titles used by graduates to describe their jobs in data curation, and they find placement in higher education, corporations, and government.

Social media management appeared throughout the job descriptions provided by participants. In public libraries, the social media role was used to engage in marketing, community outreach, and communication. It was applied equally to children’s and teen services and adult services. Teen and young adult librarians, in particular, describe the demand for skills in creating and implementing social media resources that meet the demands and interests of their young patrons. In academic institutions and private industry, social media management was used to research and analyze the identity of information users and their responses to products and services, as well as to communicate with patrons and corporate clients. Regardless of the type of agency in which they were employed, graduates indicated the need to be familiar with current social media and aware of new applications and resources.

New graduates in the area of reference and information services emphasized the dynamic nature of their roles: providing traditional reference service and research support while being actively engaged in instruction and digital learning initiatives. In particular, academic library placements described their roles as embedded librarians, instructional designers, and e-learning or distance learning specialists. Nor were public librarians immune to the changes in reference and information services; there is a growing emphasis on instruction in public libraries, including workforce readiness and technology skills.

Representatives of LIS programs also noted their graduates are being placed in emerging roles with new skills. Several programs indicated that an increasing number of job titles began with “digital,” such as “digital assets manager,” “digital initiatives librarian,” and “digital learning initiatives.” They also reported several unique job titles that had not been seen in prior years, including “digital presence manager” and “data science.”

This article was published in Library Journal's October 15, 2013 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Stephanie L. Maatta About Stephanie L. Maatta

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

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  1. [This comment was in violation of our Terms of Use and was deleted by an administrator.]

  2. This article makes perfect sense. I’m a new librarian (part time), full title is Digital Learning Librarian, a title that I’m very proud of!

    These lines describe my job perfectly “providing traditional reference service and research support while being actively engaged in instruction and digital learning initiatives”. It’s a very rewarding job; one that I think has a future.