Employment and Salaries for Librarians
By: Laurie Hauer

Employment Outlook:
  • In 2008, there were 197,000 librarians, 44,000 library technicians and 101,000 other education, training and library workers.
  • Between 2006 and 2016, the number of librarians are expected to increase by 3.6%, library technicians by 8.5%, and library assistants by 7.9%.
  • The total U.S. employment for librarians is expected to increase by 10.4% during this time period.
  • 58% of librarians in the U.S. are projected to reach retirement age of 65 between 2005 and 2019.
  • Most librarians work in school and academic libraries. About one-fourth of librarians work in public libraries. The remainder work in special libraries or as information professionals for companies and other organizations.
  • More than 2 out of 10 librarians work part-time. Public and college librarians often work weekends and evenings, as well as some holidays. School librarians usually have the same workday and vacation schedules as classroom teachers.
  • Special librarians usually work normal business hours, but in fast-paced industries such as advertising or legal services, they often work longer hours when needed. This also applies to library technicians.
  • More than half of all library assistants are employed by local government in public libraries; most of the remaining employees work in school libraries. Nearly half of all library assistants work part-time.
Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO, 2001, http://www.dpeaflcio.org/programs/factsheets/fs_2009_library_workers.htm

Growth in the number of librarians will be limited by government constraints and increasing use of electronic resources. This will result in fewer jobs and the replacement of librarians with library technicians and assistants. However, librarians continue to be in demand to manage staff, help users develop database searching techniques, address complicated reference requests, choose materials, and help users to define their needs. Jobs for librarians outside the traditional settings will grow fastest over the decade.
United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos068.htmJobs for librarians outside traditional settings will grow the fastest over the decade. Nontraditional librarian jobs include working as information brokers and working for private corporations, nonprofit organizations, and consulting firms. Many companies are turning to librarians because of their research and organizational skills and their knowledge of computer databases and library automation systems. Librarians can review vast amounts of information and analyze, evaluate, and organize it according to a company’s specific needs. Librarians also are hired by organizations to set up information on the Internet. Librarians working in these settings may be classified as systems analysts, database specialists and trainers, webmasters or web developers, or local area network (LAN) coordinators.

Career Paths:
You can pursue a wide variety of career paths within library organizations. The types of library jobs include pages, library assistants, library managers, library directors and related job titles.
  • Pages are usually responsible for putting returned books and other items in their proper places on the shelves. They are also responsible for keeping items in the right order. Some handle requests for retrieving materials that are in secured areas, and others may be responsible for checking items back in. Page jobs are usually part-time, with pay of roughly $5.15 to $8 per hour.
  • Library Assistants or Technicians generally perform clerical duties, and are often mistaken for librarians as they are the first face people see, since most librarians' checkout desks are near the entrance. Library assistants often check materials out and in, collect fines and fees, answer general phone questions, issue library cards, process new library materials, and assist with items on reserve. Library assistant jobs may be part-time or full-time and can range from $8 to $15 per hour.
  • Librarians help people with homework and research questions, decide what items to purchase and to discard, offer programs and training, help people use the internet, build websites, and more. Specialized librarians may run computer systems, work with seniors and non-English speaking populations, become specialists in a specific subject area, or maintain the records for the online catalog. Librarian jobs are often full-time, although most libraries also rely on a core of part-time and "substitute" librarians to help cover all of the hours many libraries are open. The average starting salary for a full-time new librarian was $37,975 in 2003, with the average for all librarians at $43,090 for 2002.
  • Library Managers such as department heads, branch managers, and assistant/deputy/associate directors, are typically middle managers responsible for the operation of departments or other functional areas such as "all library branches." As managers they may be responsible for work schedules, employee evaluations, training, and managing budgets. Branch managers, in particular, can have additional director-like responsibilities, such as overseeing the condition of the facility or involvement in local neighborhood groups and projects.
  • Library Directors have the main leadership role in the library. Typical duties include preparing and overseeing the budget, developing employment and service policies, strategic planning, public and governmental relations, reporting to the governing board or official, ensuring compliance with laws, fundraising, hiring, motivating and firing staff, and more. Directors' duties and compensation can vary greatly depending on the size of the library. The director of a small, rural library can often be the only regularly scheduled employee, with a salary around $20,000. A director of a large, urban library can have hundreds of employees and a salary of approximately $175,000.
  • Other Professionals can play major roles in libraries. These may include jobs such as public relations, accounting and human resources, network administration, facilities management, transportation services and security. Rates of pay vary widely depending on the size of the library, geographic area and skills, and educational requirements.

Types of Librarian Careers:
  • Academic Libraries serve colleges and universities, their students, staff and faculty. Larger institutions may have several libraries on their campuses dedicated to serving particular schools such as law and science libraries. Many academic librarians become specialists in an area of knowledge and can have faculty status.
For more information, visit the Association of College and Research Library's website -

  • Public Libraries serve communities of all sizes and types. Wherever you live, there's bound to be a local public library nearby! As the name implies, public libraries serve the general public, "from cradle to grave" as more than one public librarian has been heard to say. Public libraries often have departments that focus on areas of service, such as youth, teens and adults.
For more information, visit the Public Library Association's website - http://www.pla.org/ala/mgrps/divs/pla/placareers/index.cfm
  • School Libraries are usually part of a school system, and serve students between Kindergarten and grade 12. Many are called media centers, and librarians are often required to have a second degree in education or a certificate in school media.
For more information, visit the following websites:
American Association of School Librarians - http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/aasl/aasleducation/recruitmentlib/aaslrecruitment.cfm

Developed by the University of South Carolina School of Library and Information Science
  • Special Libraries offer unique opportunities to work in a specialized environment of interest, such as corporations, hospitals, the military, museums, private businesses, and the government. Special libraries can serve particular populations, such as the blind and physically handicapped, while others are dedicated to special collections, such as the Library of Congress or a presidential library.
For more information, visit the following websites:

  • There are also other options to consider in pursuing a library career. These include library and information science instruction and research; a huge range of vendors, publishers and consultants who provide goods and services to libraries; as well as international opportunities.

Some careers in non-library settings include:
  • Book publishing workers who use their knowledge of books to choose and edit manuscripts
  • Chief information officers who decide which information technology a business needs and how employees will share information
  • Content managers who find and organize material for online communities
For more information on careers in non-library settings, visit

Librarian positions focus on one of three aspects of library work: user services, technical services, and administrative services. Librarians in user services, such as reference and children's librarians, work with patrons to help them find the information they need. The job involves analyzing users' needs to determine what information is appropriate, while searching for, acquiring, and providing the information. The job also includes an instructional role, such as showing users how to find and evaluate information. For example, librarians commonly help users navigate the Internet so they can search for and evaluate information efficiently. Librarians in technical services, such as acquisitions and cataloguing, acquire, prepare, and classify materials so patrons can find it easily. Some write abstracts and summaries. Often, these librarians do not deal directly with the public. Librarians in administrative services oversee the management and planning of libraries: they negotiate contracts for services, materials, and equipment, supervise library employees, perform public-relations and fundraising duties, prepare budgets, and direct activities to ensure that everything functions properly.

This is an excellent website for exploring the different career paths in librarianship. There is plenty of information about using an MLS degree for different types of jobs in library and non-library settings. It provides information on career growth, career profiles and job listings.

Search Society of American Archivists for information on a career in Archives. Archivists establish and maintain physical and intellectual control over records of enduring value. They select records, a process that requires an understanding of the historical context. Salaries depend on the size and nature of the employing institution. Most that work in government have civil service status. Academic institutions often have faculty status. Archivists may begin a career on grant funded projects, and eventually achieve long term job stability.

Employment Opportunities and Resources:
Search American Library Association for LIS jobs or view recent job listings on http://joblist.ala.org/
For the complete ALA employment resources go to http://www.ala.org/ala/educationcareers/employment/index.cfm
Search Special Libraries Association for jobs, latest salaries and career coaching on http://www.sla.org/careers/
Law librarians are professionally trained people who work in various legal settings, including law schools, private law firms, and government libraries. http://www.aallnet.org/services/
MLA offers career services for health sciences information professionals, students attending library school programs, and those interested in learning more about a career as a medical librarian. http://www.mlanet.org/career/
Search library job listings and career development on http://www.lisjobs.com/
Search library job listings on http://www.indeed.com/
Search library job listings on http://www.simplyhired.com/a/jobs/list/q-librarian/l-new+york,+ny
Search this website for information about current civil service job openings and civil service exams in Westchester County http://humanresources.westchestergov.com
Search New York Library Association to find out about civil service information for Public Librarians in New York State: http://www.nyla.org/index.php?page_id=332
Search Library and Archives Federal Government job titles on http://federalgovernmentjobs.us/job-group/library-and-archives.html

Salaries for library workers vary depending on factors such as type of library, size, region and years of experience. In general, salaries are higher in academic libraries located in large metropolitan areas.
According to the 2008 salary survey:
Salaries ranged from $22,000 to $331,200
Mean Salary: $58,960
Median ALA MLS Salary: $53,251
American Library Association, http://www.ala.org/ala/educationcareers/employment/salaries/index.cfm

Earnings in May 2008 were as follows:

Salaries of librarians vary according to the individual's qualifications and the type, size, and location of the library. Librarians with primarily administrative duties often have greater earnings. Median annual wages of librarians in May 2008 were $52,530. The middle 50 percent earned between $42,240 and $65,300. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $33,190, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $81,130. Median annual wages in the industries employing the largest numbers of librarians in May 2008 were as follows:
Junior colleges
Colleges, universities, and professional schools
Elementary and secondary schools
Other information services
Local government
The average annual salary for all librarians in the Federal Government in nonsupervisory, supervisory, and managerial positions was $84,796 in March 2009.
About 30 percent of librarians were members of a union in 2008 or were covered under a union contract.
United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos068.htm

Search for library salaries on http://www.salary.com/
Search library careers and salaries on http://www.careertoolkits.com/librarian/
For current librarian wage outlook go to http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes254021.htm