"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.