Besides claiming librarians are victims of discrimination, what are some other ways the ALA-APA recommends to raise librarian salaries? Some of the other recommended strategies from the ALAAPAAFBSAPET for raising librarian pay are unionizing (29), taking advantage of living wage movements (33), and acquiring certification beyond the MLS (37). I've got mixed feelings about all of them.
Let's consider these strategies one by one.
This one has no appeal for me at all. I don't want to belong to a union, and I've tried to avoid them. I suppose unions can serve their place, but in my (admittedly limited) experience of them, they promote overall benefits at the expense of the best people and sometimes at the expense of the library itself. Unions are interested in raising the lowest level and equalizing everyone, and as a consequence exceptional people are thrown in to the mix with the dullards who have managed to secure their union job and then stop working. They're great at protecting the mass of competent workers as well as the considerable percentage of layabouts and incompetents, but they discourage excellence. We're all equal in the union! Solidarity forever! We don't think people should be paid more because they're better or because they perform more! Unions are notorious for fighting any attempt to link pay to performance. This isn't going to help the problem of low performance and standards, just exacerbate it. I want more great librarians competing and raising the standards, and unions won't help this at all.
Even though I wouldn't benefit by a union shop, I suppose the majority of library workers might. I'm much more sympathetic to unions for non-professionals, by the way, who often don't have the same opportunities as professionals, and considering the lack of opportunity some professional librarians have, this is certainly a cause for shame.
Living Wage Movements
Taking advantage of living wage movements seems a bit pathetic. If you're a professional librarian making less than the living wage then you need to find another job. For other library workers, I'm not so sure. "Living wage" is such a tenuous concept.
Certification Beyond the MLS
Certification beyond the MLS makes some sense, but I'd be more impressed if anywhere in this document it mentioned the sorry state of library education. The assertions in the document are based on the false assumption that someone graduating with an MLS has proven something and gained some valuable education. We know this is usually not the case. Plenty of bright people make great librarians, but how much were they really formed by their MLS? Why doesn't the ALA face up to the painful truth that library education is a joke and actually try to do something about it? They're trying to blame the problem on gender discrimination and ignoring the more likely truth of intellectual and educational discrimination. Of course employers will pay intelligent and educated people more than others. If you've earned a difficult degree, you'll probably earn more money as well. If anyone with a pulse and get in and through library school, then telling everyone we have master's degrees and should get paid for them doesn't mean much.
Some have suggested licensing exams, similar to the bar exam for lawyers. I don't think that would work, because I think the range of what counts as library work these days is too broad to be encompassed in an exam. That's partly why library education is so incoherent. If there is a core of information that librarians need, then this should be part of a core curriculum in library schools, and perhaps part of the accreditation standards. This also ignores the fact that in some library jobs, there are already other educational requirements to be met. In a lot of libraries, librarians have other advanced degrees, and it's often the case in academic libraries that the knowledge of an academic field and of academic research in general gained while earning that other degree is at least as helpful for library work as a library degree. I can honestly say that it's what I know and can do apart from my library education that has gotten me my library jobs.
I'm curious about other's thoughts on these strategies, because even though I'm skeptical, I don't dismiss them out of hand as I did the attempt based on "pay equity."
Tomorrow I'm going to discuss the one strategy from the Toolkit that I know will work, if only for some. And then I'm probably just going to give up the fight and have a martini.