Librarian Salaries 2005: Revised Survey Yields Broader Results

By Denise M. Davis and Jenifer Grady

The ALA Librarian Salary Survey, it is a’changin! The 2005 salary survey represents a break in the methodology used for the 1982-2004 surveys. For a number of years ALA members and researchers have asked for state-level salary data instead of or in addition to regional data. This changed with the 2005 survey.

The 2005 survey was designed to meet that need. The sample of public and academic libraries was stratified by region AND stratified at the state level. We invited public libraries that serve populations under 10,000 people to participate in the now Web-based survey and increased the total sample 340% to 4,343 from 1,275 in 2004. This larger and more inclusive sample will support more accurate comparisons for managers developing salary ranges and job seekers weighing their salary options. The request for this change in the survey methodology required mutual effort, and we are pleased to report that the overall response rates for states were higher than we expected.Especially significant was the response rate for the small and very small libraries (51.5% and 51.4%, respectively), which had never participated and may have been surprised at their inclusion. Since the majority of public libraries, and thus public library employers, are small, we conveyed the importance of their salary data in the survey. The state-level response rate for two-year colleges was far lower than expected, with only eight percent of states meeting the significance level of fifty percent.

In addition to the increased sample size and stratification changes, the 2005 survey also reports actual salaries rather than adjusting for an academic year of fewer than 12-months. Such salaries were adjusted in past surveys by increasing the salaries to correct for the shortage of months.

Salary data for states with response rates of 50% or higher by type of library and position are included. In addition, some salary data are suppressed to maintain confidentiality of responses by state (especially predominantly rural states). For instance, in a state with only two large public libraries, director salaries were suppressed because it would have been possible to identify the salary of an individual.

The printed report will look slightly different. There are separate sections for public and academic libraries. The survey retained the six position categories, and the regional salary tables. State-level data are presented in each section by position, and follow the regional salary table. For all six categories, although the highest single salary for a Director was in a University, salaries were usually highest in very large public libraries. The minimum and maximum salaries for non-supervising librarians had a vast range in all sizes of public and academic libraries, such as $14,000 and $175,500 for Universities.


A total of 24,814 salaries were reported, with a mean of $53,779 and a median of $50,274. In the past, the salaries reported in this table have been compared to previous year’s ALA Librarian Salary Survey. They have also been compared to the the increase or decrease in salaries for all “civilian workers” for the same time period as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in their Employment Cost Index. We did not feel that either salary comparison with previous years would be appropriate because of the cumulative changes to the methodology of the 2005 survey. In future surveys with higher response rates, we will present these comparisons as well as state-level comparisons.

The regional trend of maximum and minimum salaries continues to mirror other economic measures. For academic libraries, the North Atlantic region had the maximum salaries 50 percent of the time, followed by the Southeast 28 percent of the time. In the first case, it means that in nine of the eighteen academic tables, the maximum salary was attributed to the North Atlantic region. The Great Lakes & Plains and the Southeast regions accounted for the lowest salaries, having the minimum salaries in six of the eighteen tables.

For public libraries, the North Atlantic region again had the maximum salaries 50 percent of the time, or in fifteen of the total thirty regional tables for public libraries. The Southeast region accounted for the minimum salary in eleven, or 37 percent of the thirty public library tables.

Position Types by Mean of Salaries Paid, 2005


Regional Salary Data



Deputy/Associate/Assistant Directors


Department Heads/Coordinators/Senior Managers


Managers/Supervisors of Support Staff


Librarians who do not supervise


Beginning Librarians




Denise M. Davis is the Director of the ALA Office for Research & Statistics; Jenifer Grady is the Director of the ALA-Allied Professional Association. The full report is $70 ($63 for ALA members) and can be ordered by mail from ALA Order Fulfillment, P.O. Box 932501, Atlanta, GA 31193-2501; by phone (1-866-746-7252); by fax (1-770-442-9742); or online at

0:0 ::
Summary article about the 2005 ALA Salary Survey - written by Denise M. Davis, Director of the Officer of Research and Statistics and Jenifer Grady, Director of the ALA-Allied Professional Association .