Friday, July 28, 2006

The Rising Generation Envies the Librarians

"Librarians make good dough." I bet you haven't heard that one before. In a continuation of my impromptu series of how the rising generation views the library, I have a blog entry from someone called OD, from whom comes the above quote. For him, becoming a librarian represents SUCCESS, or at least, WHAT YOU DO WHEN YOU'VE FAILED AT EVERYTHING ELSE. He wants to become a librarian and serve "up fools some bookworm action." I'm sure the library schools are salivating at the prospect of enrolling him, but there's one slight hitch: he thinks his GPA is below the minimum entrance requirment. I wasn't aware that library schools had entrance requirments, but then I didn't know librarians make good dough. But let's let OD speak for himself:

"The Master Plan
So OD wants to go back to school (like Dangerfield) to be a librarian. You heard that right, serving up fools some bookworm action. Problem is my gpa is below the minimum to get in. I need a good score on the GRE to get in. From what I can tell it should be pretty easy. I'm good at that standardized test thing and the practice questions seem easy enough. Letters of recommendation may be a problem though, getting in contact w/ old teachers and stuff.... So reactions everyone, I need that feedback. Small note, librarians make good dough. The lower 25th percentile make more than 40k starting out and from the course website it says that 88% of the grads from the school got librarian jobs within a year of graduation. Someone has to keep those manuscripts on lock down. I think OD is the man for it."

As you can see, he should make a fine librarian, once he gets into library school. Fortunately, he's good at that standardized test thing, though I think the GRE has added a writing section since I took it. Watch out, OD! And he probably shouldn't worry about letters of recommendation. I'm sure he made a fine impression on his professors, and they remember him well. (Letter begins: I'm writing to recommend OD for your library school. I assume he will do okay since library school isn't very challenging academically. While at Dungheap State, OD enrolled in many fine courses....)

Since OD is requesting feedback, the Annoyed Librarian will be happy to comply. First, I'm not sure where this information comes from about librarian salaries. Presumably it comes from the website of the library school OD is considering applying to. However, according to a summary of the ALA SURVEY OF LIBRARIAN SALARIES, 2005, the mean salary for "beginning librarians" is $36,486. That's the mean, you know, after you add them all up and divide them, if I remember my statistics primer correctly. If the mean is $36K, I'm pretty sure the bottom quartile isn't making over $40K, but I could be wrong. I don't have a strong math background.

Also, a "total of 24,814 salaries were reported, with a mean of $53,779 and a median of $50,274." Median. That's the salary right in the middle. Which means that half of all librarians make under $50,275. I suppose it's possible that the lowest quartile of beginning librarians makes over $40K and the median librarian makes $50K, but again, I wasn't a math major, so don't quote me.

For the real data, I had to check the print copy of the ALA Salary Survey. It would be a shame to just put that on the web and let me get it for my enormous ALA fee, but no. Okay, for all beginning public librarians in all regions, the minimum salary is $22K, the median is $35,735, and the first quartile is $34,550. For beginning academic librarians, the minimum is $17K, the median is $36,259, and the 1st quartile is $35,130. It sounds in general like the academics do a bit better, except the range for beginning publics was $22-85K, and academics $17-54K.

That maximum public librarian salary of $85K was in a "very small public library" (serving a population of less than 10,000). That has to be an anomaly. Some beginning librarian in a tiny public library in the North Atlantic region started at $85K? Somebody knows somebody is what I'm thinking.

You're probably thinking that the $17K was in Mississippi or somewhere like that, but no. Some beginning academic librarian in the North Atlantic also got a chance to skew the salary number by getting paid ony $17K/year. This is supposed to be for full-time professional work, right? Whoever this person is, undoubtedly their main identifying feature is that they are a complete loser. I doubt the person will be offended by my comment, because she or he is probably illiterate anyway. And since anyone who accepts a professional salary like this is doing us all a disservice, I also recommend an immediate spanking with a hardbound copy of the ALA Salary Survey.

The range for all librarians of course is huge. "The minimum and maximum salaries for non-supervising librarians had a vast range in all sizes of public and academic libraries, such as $14,000 and $175,500 for Universities." Personally, if I were OD, I'd want me one of them $175K jobs with no supervisory duties. Heck, I'd take one with supervisory duties, and the way I'm going I'll probably have one someday.

So my advice to OD would be, first, learn how to find salary information for yourself. By the time you finish library school, you'll be able to do this, but by then it will be too late. Second, learn how to evaluate information you find on the web. Apparently, with regard to whatever that library school is saying, Linnypooh was right--the information is bogus. Again, you'll be able to do this after library school, but....

To be fair to your prospective library school, it's probably not lying its enormous library school bottom off about everything. It may indeed be true that 88% of graduates get jobs within a year of graduation. A year's a long time. The 12% who didn't get jobs must have been really pathetic or else had serious geographic restrictions. Everyone I knew got jobs well before graduation, though naturally I associated only with the best and the brightest. However, most first jobs suck. I've seen a lot of resumes in my day, and to be honest, a lot of the second, third, and fourth jobs look like they suck as well. So be prepared!

I might also mention that most librarians probably work with computers more than books these days. Though I read a lot of books and in my job do a lot of things abstractly related to books, it's been a long time since I served up some bookworm action to a fool. Keep this in mind.

If, after this awakening, librarianship still seems like a good deal, because after all you're not doing anything with your life anyway, then go for it! Someone, indeed, as you say, has to keep those manuscripts on lock down, whatever that means.


Reactionary said...

I find it shocking that this young man is only getting into the profession for the money. What about serving the public? Sharing information? Ensuring free and easy access to pornography? Sticking it to The Man? I don't think OD appreciates that librarians are the last line of defense - the only thing holding off the swarming hordes of theo-fascists.

Greg said...

The $84K job is obviously in one of those small preppy communities with more money than brains.

Hey reactionary! I got into the field for none of those reasons, including money. I just wanted to be left alone. Boy, I screwed that up.

Annoyed Librarian said...

OD does lack a certain wide-eyed idealism, which is refreshing. Perhaps he will turn out to be good enough and mercenary enough to make the good dough.

As for me, I got into the field because, quite frankly, I wasn't doing anything better at the time. I've never been particularly enthusiastic about librarianship, but I find that I'm too successful to quit. I'm just glad the standards are low.

Dances with books said...

I could not help laughing when I saw he thought he would start at 40K *laughs some more* As Mr. T would say, "I pity the fool." So, he is good at the standardized test thing? He should be working for ETS, not a library. And we are the last line of defense, and he obviously can't hack it if he can't even figure out a salary survey. As for the 84K job, could it be a small preppy community but also has high cost of living? Look at California. You see 50K or so all the time, which seems nice until you see you could not afford to rent an apartment the size of a shoe box over there. Again, no skill at finding information. Sure, he might learn it in library school, but then again, as you point out, it will be too late.

Annoyed Librarian said...

It may indeed be true that OD would not be able to hack it. However, there is an advantage in that for some people. I remember looking around at the vast majority of students I was in library school with and thinking, boy, I'm glad I'm competing on the job market against you people!

P.B.I. Librarian said...

I can't wait for his next tidbit of wisdom - "I envy the guy who cleans out the grease trap at Mickey D's".

Bunny Watson said...

I remember looking around at the vast majority of students I was in library school with and thinking, boy, I'm glad I'm competing on the job market against you people!
Amen to that one. I've never gotten a job so easily.

Annoyed Librarian said...

From an interesting article in the Chronicle of Higher Education by the lit librarian at Yale:
"your top candidate expresses disbelief that you thought you could snag someone for so little money -- and then turns you down. Unlike in faculty searches, that actually happens in library searches." Found through LISnews.

The Hag said...

I think OD is already IN my library management class.

mdoneil said...

People learn things in library school? I thought you just signed up for the student loan dosh and the free Dialog account.

Do you know Sallie Somebody wants me to pay back the cash I forked over to my school. WTF is up with that. Thank goodness I'm pulling in $85K as a cataloger in Kennebunkport.

Anonymous said...

Librarians in Las Vegas start out at $41,000 and top out at $55,000. Management makes considerably more.