Okay, last post on the ALAAPAAFBSAPET. Well, probably.
There's one strategy mentioned for raising librarian's salaries that actually works, but only for some: negotiating your own salary (40). The toolkit notes that for many jobs the salary is negotiable. That's true. And if you're desirable, you can bargain for a pretty good salary. Being very desirable, however, I already knew that. One frequent commenter on the AL notes that he left librarianship and doubled his salary. Well, I stayed in librarianship and doubled my starting salary within four years by moving to a better paying library job, and my starting salary wasn't really that bad. I'd like to see better education and more impressive pools of librarians, but that's obviously not going to happen, so it's every woman for herself. (I would say "(or man)," but we know most librarians are women, which according to the ALA-APA is why we don't make much money on average, so if you're a man in this profession, you're obviously a penurious, feminized one. So there!)
I would try to fight the good fight, but I don't think there' s any good fight to fight. The ALA will be hopeless in any effort to raise librarian salaries as long as they focus on fairness issues and grievances, because their argument that librarian salaries are unfair is full of holes. We've been through library school. It was ridiculously easy. We've worked with plenty of incompetent and ignorant colleagues who have that precious MLS. Thus we know that having an MLS doesn't mean one is actually worth anything. We all know there are plenty of library jobs that could be done by a trained monkey, and are often being done by trained monkeys in academic libraries in the form of student workers. In my library the difference between the student workers and trained monkeys is that the monkeys' cages are cleaner.
Make the education rigorous and weed out the chaff. Admit there are a lot of dullards in librarianship wooed by the easy standards. These are the keys. And yet, how can the ALA do this when the dullards help fund all the useless political lobbying the ALA likes to engage in? What am I saying? I help fund this as well! Or at least I would if my university didn't pay my ALA dues.
So I'll take the burden off the ALA-APA, because I don't think they can carry it. The burden is back on us to fend for ourselves, and if the best tools the ALA-APA can offer us are grievances and unionization, then excellent librarians aren't going to benefit much anyway. There's already plenty of salary information available, and after that folks will just have to be on their own. From now on I'll be concentrating on raising my own salary.
The best advice I was ever given on raising my salary is: find a higher-paying position and either leave or get a counter-offer. It's risky advice to take, but potentially rewarding. Because the hard truth is that if no one's offering you more money, then you're not underpaid. If you're working for the salary they're offering and not leaving, then your employer has no reason to raise your salary. The gibberish about "fair pay" in the ALAAPAAFBSAPET should just reinforce how silly such arguments can be. If there are people willing to work at low paying library jobs, then that's what the jobs are worth. If libraries can't afford good librarians, then the institution in charge of the library doesn't value librarians very much and would rather spend the money elsewhere. Making the false assumption that an MLS isn't ridiculously easy and that librarians are the salt of the earth and the defenders of everything good in our country and should be rewarded for being tech-savvy saints, even if no one wants such saints, is just ludicrous.
So I guess that if you want to raise your salary, then be really great and competitive and take risks and negotiate your own salary. This is the cynical conclusion I've been trying to fight off, but am now convinced of. I've been trying to believe the argument that librarians are in general underpaid rather than poorly paid, but this probably isn't the case. The ALA-APA case for overall pay raises for librarians is just too poor to justify that conclusion. The generally poor pay does make it harder for great librarians to raise their own salaries, but not impossible. It also means that a lot of libraries won't ever be able to afford good librarians. But fortunately money isn't everything. There are other perks to librarianship, such as not having to work at the pea farm and being warm and dry. And you could always get out now and save yourselves.