"As the subject of this particular annoyance, I must point out that anyone who has ever spoken to a reporter is all too familiar with seeing one's comments taken out of context. When asked why someone would take a job in librarianship if they could make more money elsewhere, I think it is self-evident that they are not doing it just for the money. Aside from this, I have worked hard since I came to ALA to make the ALA-APA a reality, and the APA is now working hard to improve salaries - not just with rhetoric, but with real strategies that should achieve real results over time. ALA-APA's new Director Jenifer Grady has posted on some of the ways we're working on improving salaries. She's doing a great job, but we need you to get involved in what is going to be along, hard job. Thanks for letting me give my side of the story, Keith Michael Fiels ALA Executive Director."Here's the page of the ALA-APA on salaries, where it says, "The salaries and status efforts of ALA-APA are a response to the fact that library workers are outspoken when it comes to intellectual freedom and other issues that affect library users, but have not been nearly as vocal on our own behalf." Well said. I might even add "and other issues that have nothing to do with library users or libraries," but otherwise no complaint. Nothing for me to attack here, and I wish ALA-APA Director Jenifer Grady good luck.
I would like to say I fully applaud this ALA-APA initiative and wish it all the best, but I'm very skeptical, partly just because I'm generally cynical, but also because from what I've read so far the ALA-APA case for increasing salaries has some problems.
One problem is the lack of intellectual rigor in library schools. Between the incoherence of the profession and the intellectually slack library education, having an MLS doesn't really mean very much, and this undercuts the argument that people with "so much education" should be paid more. Here's a statement from the Better Salaries Toolkit: "Starting salaries for systems analysts and database administrators are almost twice those for librarians, who also have a master’s degree—$61,000 a year compared to $34,000." This false analogy between the MLS and other possibly more rigorous and coherent master's degrees doesn't further the argument much. "Librarian" is just too vague a job description as well. I'm planning a more thorough critique of this document, so I'll stop talking about it here.
I'm also skeptical because of what I read on the ALA-APA site itself: "ALA and ALA-APA are separate, independent legal organizations. They are tied together by fully interlocked governing bodies. The governing body of the ALA-APA is the ALA-APA Council, whose members are those individuals concurrently serving on the ALA Council."
What I particularly like about this initiative is the way it tries to give librarians and libraries tools to work with, rather than having the Council make idiotic statements or have the ALA spend millions of dollars pursuing losing political goals. The ALA does its best work when it tries to create tools for librarians to use in diverse ways and settings.
But I'm still skeptical.