Anderson County Library Board, Lynn Sutton and Mohamed Ismail named winners of 2008-2009 SirsiDynix – ALA-APA award

Contact: Jenifer Grady




For Immediate Release

February 24, 2009

The ALA-APA: the Organization for the Advancement of Library Employees (ALA-APA) has named the winners of the 2009 SirsiDynix - ALA-APA Award for Outstanding Achievement in Promoting Salaries and Status for Library Workers.

The winners are: the Anderson County Library Board, Clinton, Tenn.; Lynn Sutton, Wake Forest University Library, Winston-Salem, N.C.; and Mohamed Ismail, The Integrated Care Society in Cairo, Egypt.

Of the $5000 award, Anderson County will receive $2000, and Sutton and Ismail will each receive $1500. Leigh Estabrook, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Pamela Wilson, Jonathan Harwell and Patricia Anderson, members of the ALA-APA Salaries and Status of Library Workers Committee, will receive special recognition for their work on behalf of better salaries for library employees.

The Anderson County Library Board, chaired by Robert Gregory, supports the activities of four libraries in Anderson County, a semi-rural area north of Knoxville, Tenn. After attending a Trustee workshop sponsored by the state, the Anderson County Board began a systematic review of its policies and procedures. This work resulted in a salary survey comparing wages in Anderson County libraries to other libraries across the state, Anderson County employees and those of other towns. Armed with the startling findings (courthouse clerks made more than the library director at the largest library), the Anderson County Library Board began an active campaign to increase the hourly rates. The campaign was a success; workers at every level received a significant increase in the hourly rate. As was noted in the application, “The members of the Anderson County Library Board of Trustees are devoted public servants and have done a great job in making higher salaries a reality for library workers in Anderson County, Tennessee.”

Lynn Sutton, director of the Z. Smith Reynolds Library, was successful in her efforts at raising the salaries and status of librarians and support staff at Wake Forest University. In 2005, librarians were the lowest paid professionals among their peer institutions and were at-will employees with no written contracts. Sutton began a five-year program of improving librarian salaries, which—with effective advocacy—was completed ahead of schedule! Sutton and her administrative team revised job descriptions, reviewed personnel classification schedules and performed salary comparison surveys. Her efforts also increased the salaries of exempt and non-exempt workers. As one librarian wrote, “[Lynn’s] initiative will change how we think of our place in the university, how we govern ourselves and how we live our professional lives.” Mohamed Ismail from The Integrated Care Society in Cairo, Egypt, developed a strategy to raise the salaries and status of Egyptian librarians working at 23 different libraries.  Librarian salaries have risen from Egyptian pounds (EGP) 84 to EGP 1300 monthly, an increase of 1450%; directors earn EGP 3000 (approximately $550). In addition to increasing professional level salaries, Ismail ensured that librarians working more than 36 hours per week receive overtime and instituted performance-based bonuses. He arranged training for librarians and continues to encourage his library employees to get their graduate degrees in the United States and Germany, assuring them of salary increases once achieved. In addition to salary and bonuses, Ismail has worked to get all employees social and health insurance. The salary scale and the incentive system Ismail instituted have become a national reference for most public libraries in Egypt.Â

Leigh Estabrook will receive a special certificate of recognition. Dr. Estabrook is Dean Emerita of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Graduate School of Library and Information Science. One of her many contributions to the Library profession is consistently urging library school students and library employees to be thoughtful in their approach to negotiations for salary and status. Dean Estabrook’s six rules of salary negotiation—never discuss salary before you have the job; look at all benefits as compensation; your needs are not the bottom line; be clear that if you must hesitate, it is only because of money; never accept a job offer immediately; and one-time expenditures, such as moving expenses, are more appealing to organizations than long term investments—are legendary among those who have heard her speak or teach. Estabrook’s “input, wisdom, and generosity” have been invaluable.

Pamela Wilson, Jonathan Harwell and Patricia Anderson drafted the
living wage resolution for all library workers that passed in June 2008 by the ALA-APA Council, calling for a minimum salary of not less than $41,000 for all professional librarians and $13 an hour for all library staff. As members of the ALA-APA Standing Committee on the Salaries and Status of Library Workers, Anderson, Harwell and Wilson shed light on the fact that “library service can no longer be given away too cheaply…at the expense of paying one’s rent or putting food on the table.” They established a floor to which all prospective library employees can point and to which all organizations can compare their sense of what is fair to pay a library worker. These three individuals are to be honored with a special certificate for showing the way through bold writing and bold action.

A breakfast will be held to honor the winners at the American Library Association Annual Conference in July in Chicago. The jury members were Linda Dobb, chair, California State University East Bay Library; Kathleen Hanselmann, RAF Lakenheath AFB Library; and Alice Knapp, New Canaan Library (Conn.). This award was thanks to a generous contribution from SirsiDynix, the global leader in strategic technology solutions for libraries.

ALA-APA: the Organization for the Advancement of Library Employees is a service organization to the American Library Association and the library community. It has two missions: providing certification in specializations of librarianship and advocacy for salary improvement efforts.