ALA-APA Rural Library Staff Salary Survey

The ALA-APA has put their rural library salary survey (pdf) online. This comes from the ALA Committee on rural, native and tribal libraries of all kinds. Here are some highlights.

  • The libraries themselves define what rural means. This can be tiny towns or larger towns that are very remote or just outside the city limits. The responding libraries were in Alaska, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas Montana, Pennsylvania and Soth Carolina. Oh, there’s also one rural librarian in Wyoming, hi Laura!
  • As far as technology, yes some of these libraries are still on dial-up. They also have populations with lower incomes and educations than in bigger libraries, according to some librarians.
  • One librarian describes the isolation “You really notice the isolation when you get an overdue e-mail or fax for an Interlibrary Loan book that has not even arrived yet. The bar and the library are the only source of entertainment in a tiny, isolated town.”
  • Resident and non-resident differentiation is something important to think about when your population doubles during tourist or fishing season.
  • On page 16 “What are the feelings about rural library staff salaries? Should they be higher?” I feel that this is a weird question. Who doesn’t want a higher salary? Most librarians responded that of course they should be higher but where is the money going to come from? The word “pathetic” came up more than once. One respondent “The salaries in rural areas definitely lagged behind others in my experience. We used to joke that it was worth $4,000 to have the clean air and clear skies.”

And then something weird happens and many of the comments in the “Have you heard about rural libraries that have raised their salaries?” (itself a really weird question, in my opinion) are copied from the previous question which makes for weird reading and pads out the survey in an odd fashion. So, upshot, some interesting things to consider, but I really wish there had been more representation from other states. I’m not entirely sure that what works for Alaska will play in Iowa and I am sure that some of the issues we have in Vermont are not at all the same as the ones they have in Kansas. That said it’s good to remember that there are many libraries in which getting a raise to $10 an hour (by cutting their education expenses) is a truly big deal. I’m hoping that someone in ALA comes out with some analysis and/or conclusions or projects from this. As it is it’s an informative but not very surpising data dump. [libact]

2 Responses to “ALA-APA Rural Library Staff Salary Survey”

  1. Edward Vielmetti Says:

    Jessamyn -

    One thing I noticed on my most recent library tourism expedition (to a small library in SW Michigan) was the role of the small library as a service point for tourists and people visiting the community. The New Buffalo, MI library gives free 6 week library cards for visitors (max 3 books checked out) which seems like a really neat way to extend the value of the institution beyond the residents esp. for areas that depend on tourism.

  2. Laura Says:

    It was an odd survey to fill out, as you point out. I tried to point out in my answers that a rural library in one place does not equal a rural library in another place, but I’m not sure how well it came out. I think for a true picture, you’d have to do a major study divided up by lots of demographics. That would be fascinating, but I’m guessing it’s not gonig to happen.