Employment Interest Survey: Selected Comments

Used as the basis for Ronald D. Pollock's presentation in the
Panel Discussion: Where Have All the Librarians Gone?
2001 Texas Library Association Annual Conference

Presentation | Questions | Graphs | Comments

The following are selected responses to the question, "If you think libraries are having difficulties recruiting librarians today, why do you think they are having difficulties?"

1-9 | 10-19 | 20-29 | 30-39 | 40-49 | 50-59 | 60-69 | 70-79 | 80-85

1. Most people expect librarianship to be about reading books, when they discover what the job really entails, they often look elsewhere. Although salaries are increasing, there are other, higher paying avenues of employment and recruiters are able to lure away many prospects to more lucrative venues.

2. I would think that salary and location are the most important reasons libraries have a hard time filling positions. For example, the academic library to which I will apply upon graduation has been unable to fill the position due to the salary the library offers and because the library is located in a small town that does not offer much for young professionals. However, since I'm an "old" professional (on my third career), the small town location does not bother me. Also, the low starting salary is workable due to my household's second income.

3. The salaries many libraries offer aren't even remotely competitive with those offered for information professional jobs in the corporate sector. Temperamentally, I'd prefer to work in a library. But there's already a lot of pressure on me from friends and family to go for a "real" job in a corporation, one that pays a living wage. I've known more than a few librarians working in academic libraries, for instance, who are on welfare; without that extra income, they couldn't make it. I think it's disgraceful that librarians are so little valued, almost certainly because it's primarily a women's profession. If the salary a library offers doesn't match the local cost of living, one would have to be mad to take the position.

4. They are not recruiting as aggressively as they should. They place one or two classified ads, send notices to library schools lists with one or two websites, then sit back and wait for people to come to them. This may work in some job markets, but in the current Texas market they need to actively seek out/ pursue qualified candidates and sell their wonderful library to those candidates. I will graduate with strong qualifications for a children's librarian position ( a B.S. in early childhood, 10 years elementary teaching experience, strong technical skills, paraprofessional experience in a public library). If I do decide to specialize in children's services, I will expect prospective employers to make an effort to find me and persuade me to accept their position, rather than the searching and "selling" to ALL be on my part.

5. Low pay, very high work load, bad hours, and unconcerned library managers.

6. With the exception of technological and commercial areas, librarians are not afforded the status and compensation commensurate with their training and skills. A second reason would be that available positions are not located in a desirable or affordable area.

7. [T]here are not enough people coming out of library school to fill the open librarian positions. On top of that, everyone graduating with an MLS is not always going into the library profession. Therefore, institutions with open librarian positions are being forced to raise salaries, benefits, and other compensations to entice graduates (or experienced librarians for that matter), to their jobs. Some places don't have the resources for that.

8. Low salary, low status--especially for the amount of education required.

9. [S]alary is probably the number one reason. [A]lso, maybe people don't realize how to get into the field. [I] didn't till my academic advisor suggested it to me when [I] was getting my bachlor degree.

10. Low salaries; many people do not perceive librarianship to be a "profession" requiring special skills; budget cuts in schools and businesses often target librarians first, discouraging many from entering the profession.

11. Many of them seem unwilling to hire recent graduates who have no experience and who, consequently, will require greater than average training during their first year of service. Perhaps an underlying reason for this is lack of plans and procedures for training within libaries currently.

12. I believe the employee pool is rather shallow due to low starting salaries, generally low status and the preponderance of aging females in the profession.

13. Unless you work in a corporate environment, the salaries for librarians are horrendous.

14. Low salaries- special libraries tend to pay more than public libraries. The hours- many people do not want to work evenings and weekends.

15. The salary....Librarians aren't paid for their expertise and education, which is an MLS and experience in the profession. In the United States, a lot of people don't feel library and learning are as much of a priority as professional sports.

16. I think that public library systems, like public schools, do not offer professionals (teachers and librarians) adequate salari and benefits packages. I strong believe that this unwillingness to pay people who serve children and young people is a direct reflection of how little we in this country value our youth.

17. Salaries are too low because librarianship is a female-dominated field. If a potential student weighs the salary potential from a master's in library science against an MBA, or a master's in Information Science, the gap is typically $15K to $20K. How can a librarian expect to raise a family, own a home, or even save for retirement, if that kind of gap exists? Plus, the perception exists that with an MBA or an MIS, you can do the same work, or functions of a librarian in the corporate world, yet recieve more money. Who are we fooling when we say that money is not important? Unfortunately, we need money to pay our bills. The perception probably exists among potential students that an MLS buys you a second-class lifestyle, when contrasted against the value of an MBA or MIS. I think the perception may be real, or this survey would not exist to test for it.

18. Per[s]ons with the appropriate skills for the changing library environment are being siphoned off by other types of companies needing similar skills because they can pay more and offer more benefits for similar duties and responsibilities.

19. Tight job market, good economy. The public institutions (schools, cities, universities) are unable to pay enough for the majority of job-seekers. Businesses may not recognize the value of the librarian and will not pay enough. Also, not enough people want to take on the lower-tech positions which require more traditional skills (reference interviewing, supervision, administration).

20. Public libraries do not want to pay librarians a decent wage for what they do. In addition, children's librarians often purchase materials for programming out of their own pocket because the library does not have funds for these materials. I find that troubling. Why should I stay in an industry that already does not pay me what I am worth and in addition quietly expects me to donate craft materials so my young patrons can enjoy free programs at the library.

21. Pay. If a library pays well, that news gets around the library community fast. People will be willing to commute farther if the money is there.

22. Graduates from library schools have many options for their career path. Working in a library is just one. Libraries now must compete with other markets to attract graduates.

23. I think public libraries in particular are having difficulties, in part because they often cannot compete with what special libraries or jobs in other areas are offering, in areas such as salary. I also think a lot of people never consider the field of library science, because they don't know enough about what librarians do and/or have a misconception about libraries and librarians.

24. Salaries that aren't competitive with salaries in technology/business fields; Lack of opportunities for advancement within an organization.

25. There are several reasons. First, salaries are not competetive with other professional areas of the economy. Second, there seems to a shortage of qualified librarians at the same time that the need is increasing. Third, too many employers (especially in public libraries)still believe that quality patron service can be delivered by persons recruited from the general population at low salaries, and they do not fully appreciate the contributions a professional MLS librarian can make.

26. Salaries are low and stereotypes of librarians are not good.

27. Mostly, to many people's minds, librarianship is not a profession. The majority of my classmates are teachers that wish to become school librarians--very few people I've encountered actually intend to enter into public librarianship.

28. Library work is low status and low paying work. As a result, there are too few people of quality available for the positions advertised.

29. [W]e are severely underpaid for the services we provide. [A]fter being required to persue a masters and then to be paid $35, 000 and stagnate there is hard to swallow when a computer person without a degree earning [$]100, 000 makes one think.

30. [L]ow pay; not enough emphasis given to opportunities for professional development and/or advancement.

31. The salaries are not competitive. Librarians can get jobs in many other fields at equal or higher salaries and with more opportunity for advancement. There is rarely much room for advancement within a library, so to move up a librarian either has to move to another job or wait for someone else to retire. Raises and perks are tied directly to the city or school's financial position.

32. Low pay for public and some academic libraries combined with lack of defined career path.

33. [L]ow salary; lack of career advancement opportunties; organization doesn't truly value librarians.

34. [N]ot enough students enrolled in library programs to replace the librarians that have retired and technical companies are offerring better pay and benefits.

35. Most people who are recent graduates seem to be working in fields like web based industries and not taking the library jobs (lower salaries). Many older librarians are retiring and new ones won't put up with bad working conditions and low technology levels that are so common in our jobs.

36. Currently I am directing an academic library in a small Christian college in the upper midwest. 6 years ago I was offered the job of running things (secretary?!) until they could find a "real" librarian. To make a long story short, I completed my BA, and will complete my graduate work in 4 months. In order to keep this job, I was required to complete this education. After having gone through 4 other librarians in the six years before me, the college was having a very difficult time finding a qualified librarian. The main reason? Money. My contract is for $21, 000. Even in this depressed economy, it is very difficult to get a professional to come to work for this. I am not complaining--love my work and love the paycheck, but think for this area and our particular situation, money (or rather, lack thereof) is definitely the main difficulty.

37. Librarianship is stilled viewed as a sort of archaic job type with the most unflattering stereotypes so many people do not pick it as a profession. The base, starting salaries are not at all competitive with other jobs that require the same amount of education. I mean 30K for a job that requires a Bachelors, Masters, and usually prefers a subject specialty Masters just a little absurd. But then, look at teachers' salaries, too. Employers need to get over the 19th century notion that all teachers and librarians are women who will marry one day and have their man take care of them.

38. Professional librarians expect to receive pay commensurate with their education and many libraries cannot or will not pay enough to attract quality staff.

39. In general, I do not think the pay is commisurate with the amount of education as compared to other jobs with the same amount of educaiton.

40. Low salaries compared to required qualifications. I know people with high school diplomas who make more annually than the starting salary offered to many librarians with a MLS.

41. I am sure we have an image problem. Isn't it much more trendy to be an "information professional"? a computer expert? There was a time when we learned about books. Today we learn about books and computers, and yet those with computer degrees far surpass us in salary draw-down and professional image. What a shame! Librarians are yet subservient masochists.

42. Working conditions are challenging because people want to use libraries at all hours of day and night. Salaries are poor considering the workload and night hours required for the job.

43. [N]ot offering enough MONEY!!!! This is no longer an altruistic profession. People expect to be properly compensated for their skills and knowledge. It is doubtful that many public schools (K-12) will be able to entice graduates to work for them due to the paltry wage scale.

44. Misconception about the duties and responsibilities of a librarian; past stereotyping of librarians; low pay and little respect.

45. The low pay is an atrocity. After so much education, it is offensive that librarians are expected to earn starting incomes relative to someone with a high school degree who has been in the workforce only a few years. Also, many current library professionals are very resistant to change particularly with technology--That is a big turn off.

46. The pay is low. Many times we work under someone who knows nothing about the library so we are being constantly micromanaged. Also we can take the same skill we learned in library school and apply them to corporate [A]merica and earn twice as much.

47. The salary is not the best in the world when you are working in an academic or public library. You have to like the work your are doing. There is also the problem of overcoming the stereotypical librarian that does nothing but check out books. Some people feel that getting a masters degree to work in a library is useless and some smaller libraries accept applicants without an MLS. Another problem is that there is no job fullfillment.

48. There is nothing glamorous about working in a library. The "perks" need to change to make the position more appealing.

49. Most libraries do not pay enough. Often, job postings ask for an incredible list of credentials, and then offer low starting salaries. Librarians with high skill levels choose to work for the private sector instead. In addition, academic libraries are too hierarchical in nature and do not provide much opportunity for advancement. The tenure track system is too long and arduous with little or no guarantee for a tenured position.

50. There are simply not enough students getting MLS degrees to fill all of the available positions. I think that libraries (and library schools) need to aggressively market themselves are good opportunities for career growth and development.

51. Because we are learning information and computing skills that are in demand in business, and they are able to offer better salaries.

52. In a public library, a librarian is much more likely to face low pay, evening and weekend hours, too many political issues and budget constraints. A public library would be my last choice. I don't think the same difficulties apply to corporate libraries--the pay and bnefits packages seem to be much better with no evening and weekend hours and much lower stress. (I'm presently doing my internship in a corporate library.)

53. [N]on-professional salaries for professional positions!

54. Unrealistic requirements for low paying positions.

55. Libraries are having trouble recruiting librarians because the salary is not commensurate with the required qualifications. I could take my degree to almost any large business, especially a technology related business, and add a minimum of 10, 000 a year, plus bonuses. I'd have better stock options, 401K, better raises, and more possibilities for advancement. The demand for information professionals in the business world is high, and the financial inducements are very, very sweet.

56. Poor salary and benefits package. Also, poor work environment. All the money in the world doesn't make up for working with a boss who is a jerk.

57. I am not certain all libraries are having trouble, but I know school libraries in Houston are. I suspect this is because anyone with enough drive to earn a masters degree expects something in return for this effort. Schools typically pay librarians on the same scale as teachers, even though a higher degree is required. Also, the "media specialist" is often required to carry extra duties... some in my school district are hired as librarian/tech. specialists and are expected to keep the computers around the building running as well as the library. When people are expected to do too much work for too little compensation and respect, they tend to find some-thing else to do fairly quickly.

58. Perhaps, most libraries do not meet the high expectation of the current University graduates (in terms of sallary, job environment and infrastructure), among other issues.

59. Librarians are changing with the times (technologically) and expecting more money for it. They are not wiliing to work for what libraries are willing (or able) to pay.

60. I think people still have an antiquated view of what librarians actually are qualified to do. They do not realize what a high tech job librarians have in this day and age.

61. There are jobs utilizing similar skills in higher-paying environments, such as corporations, Web-companies. Furthermore, there is a misrepresentation or mistaken assumption that librarians are not high-tech or relevant to today's information society. Some people do not want to identify themselves as librarians because of the stigma.

62. I think that there are probably plenty of library jobs out there but that employers don't fully understand what they should be looking for in a librarian. Not enough people know what we learn in library science programs, and many jobs will not utilize our skills and knowledge. Too many employers, especially in Arch[ives], focus too much on the subject area knowledge and not enough on the information science knowledge. That leaves MLS graduates who have an understanding of how to organize and access information and who can learn a subject quickly at a disadvantage to people who know about a specialized topic but don't understand the importance of classification, cataloging, and access points.

63. Salaries. Underfunding of public libraries--we NEED more dynamic directors who will fight city managers for the money we deserve.

64. With respect to Learning Resource Libraries (K-12), it probably has to do with the Texas requirement of being a classroom teacher for 2 years prior to taking the librarian position. I personally have 7 years teaching experience, and becoming a librarian will be flowing out of my previous experience. However, classroom teaching and school librarianship are different in many respects, and I do not believe that a good school librarian has to have been a classroom teacher first.

65. I believe that many students do not receive the proper guidance while in graduate school and really do not know what they want to do with their degree or how to approach applying for positions. I think that library schools, with assistance from the various library-types, need to develop some kind of work/co-op program as part of the graduate school curriculum. This gives students more experience upon graduation and to have a better understanding of the field and decide in which area he/she is most comfortable.

66. I feel that "librarians" are not "sexy" in the technologically driven world we live in. The career offers less money than many other jobs and requires education, commitment and hard work. How many kids say, "I want to be a librarian when I grow up?"

67. I think that at times libraries place too much emphasis on the amount of years of experience for job openings. How does one expect to fill a position when the applicant should have a minimum of 3 years experience in what would be considered an entry-level position. This scares away applicants who don't want to waste his/her time applying for a seemingly basic job with such high requirements. I don't understand how libraries expect new graduates to gain experience when they can't even find an entry-level job. If library administrators want all applicants to have so much experience coming out of library school, then the libraries should organize some kind of co-op situation where students can gain practical experience and be equipped upon graduation.

68. Salary is low and respect and image of professionalism are even lower.

69. I think salaries are not similar to other professionals with same qualification (masters' degree). Also, the working environment is changing (both employee and employer expectations). Employers sometimes ask for too many skills, not necessarily related to each other. Employees feel they doesn't have all those skills. I think this is a transitional time.

70. It is hard for libraries to compete w/ the money offered by private sector employers. I think public libraries are the worst. the pay is low and you ask people-many of them women-to work in an environment where there are disgusting homeless men who stink, are rude sometimes, who look at young girls (who are trying to study or read) and masturbate or leer at them. It is creepy. But public libraries seem to have this 1960's feel-good attitude that tries to act as if anything anyone wants to do is okay (they all have "rights"...) which is true, but at some point these policy decisions impact who wants to be in an environment and who just does not. I know women in library school who just avoid even going into a public library if they can help it. They'd rather just buy a book than go into that sad environment. Maybe it is possible that libraries could participate in the social engineering policies that have been alluded to here and employ some higher standards that would make the library a more pleasant place for all. Just a thought. Ultimately, I think many librarians will move back towards libraries from their dot.coms, etc. posts for the environment and because what one actually has to do to pull down a six-figure salary is not the reason some of us chose this profession in the first place. But being liberal arts people, a lot of us have worked many low pay, hourly jobs so the non-traditional jobs for people with our skills can be very alluring.

71. There are misconceptions as to what a librarian does for a living. Additionally, poor salary and benefit packages in many regions do not make librarianship attractive. Recruitment should, ideally, focus on salary, benefits, potential signing bonuses, raise scales, a committment of support for state and national professional activities (conferences and activities, and moving expenses). Attention to what the community has to offer is also essential to attract diverse applicants.

72. The salaries are too low. Not enough of *truely* entry-level positions - most say they are, but still require professional/managerial experience. Academic library positions are very competative - they need to offer better packages to their applicants.

73. Basically its just to[o] hard to get a library degree - first of all its a masters degree and, second of all, only three universities in a state of about 20 million offer a mlis and if you take distance courses they are so expensive that it [is] really not worth your time.It is easier to get a law degree so why bother to become a librarian.

74. Salary, salary, salary! We will soon find ourselves relegated to the position of public school teachers, except that we do not have the strength of a union behind us. What we see now is the silence before the fall. For such a liberal-minded group, I cannot understand why librarians do not unionize. If project management folks at the university can make 100K/year why are librarians making 27K? Sad. Very Sad.

75. Web and other information technology companies offer twice and sometimes three times the salary. Often, libraries do not even offer a salary that would enable a person to li[v]e and pay standard bills in that community.

76. [T]he pay, esp. for academic librarians, is terribly low-- esp. considering the fact most require 2 masters degrees. 2 masters degress and you're only giving me 30k gross a year?!? You've GOT to be kidding me!

77. [T]he salary is low compared to the investment in the education. Once the master's degree is obtained a librarian is often viewed as a glorified clerk. Those of us who will be school librarians are often considered lesser information specialists than those who are planning on boing to dot coms or other areas of business even though we take many of the same courses.

78. The ones that are having difficulties are suffering from lack of leadership, vision, desire and commitment to excel and/or are laden with way too much dead wood.

79. I feel many employers do not appreciate or recognize the "new school" kind of librarian. Many employers are quick to assume just because they may receive less applications for certain positions that the applicants must be less than qualified. This feeling often comes through during interviews. I think this turns many recent graduates off causing them to persue less traditional positions where there talents are appreciated much more.

80. The profession doesn't pay well and isn't very glam. Also, the general public is ignorant of the profession (the terminal degree, what a librarian's job entails (NOT SHELVING BOOKS), and the opportunities to be a part of the information revolution. There are a lot of anal-retentive freaks that get into the profession. You gotta keep your exposure to these busybodies as much as possible.

81. Many of the skills necessary for a librarian to remain competitive with today's changing technology are often the skills that make them the most marketable for other careers offering higher salaries, higher professional profiles, etc.

82. The private sector often offers a much, much better benefit and salary package than many libraries can. Librarians working in the private sector often receive more professional deference which contributes to a state of emotional and professional satisfaction. It is hard to be thought of as "just the librarian." The general public has no appreciation for the level of skill required to be an excellent librarian...too many believe we do little more than read and shelve books during our work day.

83. Many additional opportunities outside the traditional library field especially in computer, technology, and web related areas. Low salaries. Poor, stressful work environment due to lack of support and funding for libraries by governing agencies and local, state, and federal government.

84. Society's perceives that librarians do very little "real work" and afford them very little respect and recognition for all they do. It is a thankless job with generally low pay and very little benifits.

85. Relatively low salaries, no funds for recruiting out-of-state employees, schedule (evenings and weekends), lack of status (I've interviewed for positions where the new employee would have no phone/work space/designated computer station), bilingual requirements, positions split between two libraries.

Presentation | Questions | Graphs | Comments

Updated: January 31, 2004
Contact me at: rpollock@ischool.utexas.edu
© 2001, Ronald D. Pollock