May 11, 2018

Placements & Salaries 2017: Librarians Everywhere

Recent graduates are experiencing faster placements and earning more money than last year’s, this year’s snapshot of the job market suggests.

Forty of the 52 schools with American Library Association (ALA)–accredited LIS master’s programs participated in LJ’s annual Placements and Salaries survey. Collectively, these programs reported that a total of 4,223 people graduated from their programs in the 2016 calendar year. Thirty-nine percent of these graduates answered questions about their job-seeking experiences. Graduates were primarily female (79%), with 20% identifying as male, and 1% as other. Graduates self-identified as white/non-Hispanic (76%), Asian/Pacific Islander (9%), Hispanic/Latinx (6%), Black/African American (4%), or as more than one race (3%).

Full-time, jobs outside of libraries rise

Overall, 2016 graduates have been successful in finding jobs, with 83% of those employed reporting that they have full-time positions. That is up slightly from last year and matches the level of the 2014 survey. Most of these are permanent rather than temporary positions. About 67% of these full-time professionals work in a library setting, markedly lower than last year.

About 20% of full-time employed graduates use their library skills in a different environment, also a higher percentage than last year. About 17% of working 2016 graduates have part-time status, down slightly from the 18% reported last year. More than half of part-time employees hold only one part-time position, however others hold multiples; the average part-time employee holds about 1.6.

What makes us happy?

Nearly three out of four graduates report being satisfied with their current job placement. Graduates who landed full-time positions in public libraries (84%) or school libraries (81.4%) report the highest satisfaction levels. Many respondents link their job satisfaction to the fulfillment of their career goals; they are delighted to be working in the service areas that they aimed for, or applying what they learned in their LIS programs. Satisfied job holders also point to good salaries and benefits, pleasant working environments, and supportive coworkers and management. Satisfaction is also a result of the characteristics of their duties, such as interacting with favorite user groups, making a difference for their organizations or communities, and having some control or influence over the decisions of their employers.

Overwhelmingly, unhappy graduates point to under­employment issues, including low wages; lack of benefits; having to settle for part-time, temporary, or nonprofessional positions; or having to piece together two or three part-time positions to support themselves. Several report being frustrated about carrying student debt for their LIS degree without being able to use the degree in their current positions.

Where do we come from?

The class of 2016 continues the trend, identified last year, of younger graduates pursuing a career for the first time. The proportion is very similar to last year; more than two-thirds of graduates are under 36 years old and more than half are making their first venture into a professional career. Also similar to last year, 45% of graduates are working in libraries before they graduate.

However, about 44% of graduates report that the LIS degree is a springboard to leave an existing career and enter the information profession. Career-changers come from more than 28 different fields. Education is the most common original path, with 14.3% of graduates originally working in K–12 education and another 2.3% in higher education. The next most frequent feeder field is business, including accounting, finance, and management, as well as retail, banking, and real estate (8.1%). Graduates also noted previous careers in law (attorneys, paralegals) or law enforcement (6.4%), and in publishing, writing, editing, journalism, or communications (5%). Entertainment fields, such as TV/cinema production, the music business, or theater/performing arts, were the first profession for 4.3% of career changers.





This article was published in Library Journal. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Suzie Allard About Suzie Allard

Suzie Allard ( is Professor of Information Sciences and Associate Dean of Research, University of Tennessee College of Communication & Information, Knoxville. She is PI or co-PI on grants funded by IMLS, NSF, and other foundations. She is a member of the DataONE Leadership Team and the Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations Board of Directors and the winner of the 2013 LJ Teaching Award.



  1. Jose Rodriguez says:

    How are there 52 ALA accredited schools for LIS, when I have counted 60 using the ALA directory of accredited LIS schools:

  2. There are a few schools that offer multiple programs. I believe Indiana University is one example.

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