Average librarian salary

by Public Libraries on January 10, 2012


One of the most common questions we get asked is what the average salary of a librarian is.  The simple answer is “not enough”.

All joking aside, the answer to the question is actually fairly complicated.  There are so many different types of librarians working at several different types of libraries.  You really need to clarify what type of librarian you’re talking about if you want an accurate salary range.  There are a some broad studies of librarian salaries though.

The most comprehensive measurement of librarian salaries was last performed for 2010 by the American Library Association-Allied Professional Association (ALA-APA).  They have been conducting the “Librarian Salary Survey” annually since 1982.  The 2010 survey gathered data from over 580 library directors and HR staff and reported on more than 11,000 librarian salaries at public and academic libraries.

The results showed that in 2010 the mean salary for librarians with ALA-accredited master’s degrees was $60,734 and the median salary was $55,883.  These numbers were up 3 percent and 2 percent respectively from 2009 so it looks like librarian salaries are doing just fine during the economic downturn.  This is surprising given that many library budgets have experienced cuts in recent years.

Starting salaries in 2010 for librarians with ALA-accredited master’s degrees were an average of $48,317.  Beginning public librarians averaged $48,749 and beginning academic librarians averaged $47,000.  Those numbers were up 5.9 percent and 1.2 percent from the prior year.

The survey showed a salary range of $22,000 to $320,000.  The $22,000 was probably in a very small rural library.  The $320,000 is probably at one of the largest libraries in the world the like the New York Public Library or the Harvard Library.

So ALA-certified librarians with master’s degrees working at public or college libraries average around $50k a year starting and around $58k in general.  That covers the salaries of what most people are thinking of when they think of a “librarian”.

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