Librarian Salaries: Annual Increase Above National Average

For American Libraries September 2002 issue, p. 93

By Mary Jo Lynch

Latest ALA survey shows a 4.2% gain.

Since 1982 (annually since 1988) ALA has collected and published data on salaries paid to librarians in academic and public libraries that have at least two professional. This has been done because people often ask ALA to tell them what salary might be paid to a librarian in a particular type of library, and in a particular part of the U.S.

With only minor changes over the years, the survey has been sent to about 1,200 library directors who were asked to report the salaries paid to full-time staff with master’s degrees from programs in library and information studies accredited by ALA. In 2002, the survey was sent to a random sample of 1,320 libraries, of which 924 responded (70%). Respondents provided salaries paid as of April 1, 2002, to incumbents in five position types plus beginning librarians, as shown in the table accompanying this article.


A total of 14,805 salaries were reported ranging from a low of $18,655 to a high of $200,000 with a mean of $49,866 and a median of $46,600. The results by position category and a comparison of the 2002 average salary to the 2001 average salary for each category are listed in the table.

The percentage of increase in the mean of this year’s 14,805 salaries over the mean of last year’s 13,487 salaries is 4.2%. This figure is slightly higher (0.7%) than the increase in salaries for all “civilian workers” for the same time period as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in its Employment Cost Index.

The percent change from March 2001 to March of this year for civilian workers was3.5%. The increase for the state and local government subset of civilian workers was 3.4%.

Data on the Employment Cost Index is published in each issue of the Monthly Labor Review, but those figures are now several months behind what can be found on the Web. Percent change figures used in the previous paragraph were found at

For the top two positions, Director/Dean and Deputy/Associate/Assistant Directors, salaries were highest in large public libraries and lowest in four-year academic libraries. For the other four categories, salaries were usually highest in two-year academic libraries and lowest in four-year college libraries. For librarians who do not supervise, the mean was lowest in medium-sized public libraries. For all positions, salaries are usually highest in the North Atlantic and West/Southwest regions and lowest in the Southeast. These patterns vary somewhat from year to year except that salaries in the Southeast are always lowest.

In the full report, results for each position category are displayed for each of the four regions of the U.S. and summarized by showing the range, mean, median, first quartile, and third quartile. The report also contains an annotated list of “Compensation Surveys Providing Information on Library Workers,” a compilation of all “ALA Policies Related to Compensation Issues,” and a table showing the number of “Salaries Paid for Less Than a Twelve Month Year in Academic Libraries” by type of library and position.

Rank Order of Position Types by Mean of Salaries Paid

Mean Salaries by Type of Position
Title 2002 Salary 2001 Salary Change Amount Change Percent
Director/Dean 75,714 72,384 +3,501 5.9
Deputy/Associate/Assistant Directors 62,847 59,346 +3,501 5.9
Department Heads/Coordinators/Senior Managers 54,260 52,677 +1,583 3.0
Manager/Supervisors of Support Staff 44,549 42,629 +1,920 4.5
Nonsupervisory Librarians 44,279 42,704 +1,575 3.7
Beginning Librarians 35,051 32,891 +2,160 6.6