Number Employed in Libraries

Number of employees in the American library workforce

ALA Library Fact Sheet 2

NEW RESOURCE: Statistics about US Libraries and about libraries in other countries may be found on the IFLA Library Map of the World.

The library work force includes librarians and other professionals, paraprofessionals, clerical and technical personnel. Statistics are not available for each category of personnel in each type of library. Instead this fact sheet summarizes the latest available statistics on the two major categories -- librarians and other professionals, and other paid staff -- in the three types of libraries for which reliable national figures are available from National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

The numbers for public libraries below come from the IMLS Public Library Survey, from the latest report in the series, Public Libraries in the United States Survey: Fiscal Year 2012 (December 2014). The numbers for academic and school libraries below come from the NCES Schools and Staffing Survey and the Library Statistics Program surveys: Academic Libraries: 2012 First Look (2014); Characteristics of Public and Private Elementary and Secondary Schools in the United States: Results From the 2011–12 Schools and Staffing Survey for staff in school libraries in public and private schools; and Characteristics of Public and Bureau of Indian Education Elementary and Secondary School Library Media Centers in the United States: Results From the 2007–08 Schools and Staffing Survey for staff in school library media centers in BIE (Bureau of Indian Education) schools.

Number of Paid Library Staff in the United States
Librarians Other Paid Staff Total Paid Staff
Academic Libraries




Public Libraries




Public School Libraries




Private School Libraries




Bureau of Indian Education School Libraries








Note for school libraries: Please be aware that the numbers reported for the school libraries include part-time staff in those positions.

Comparable figures for employment in special libraries (e.g. libraries serving businesses, scientific agencies, hospitals, law firms, and nonprofit organizations) are not available. It is worth noting that the Special Libraries Association (SLA) currently serves over 7,000 members in 75 countries.

NOTE: Previous versions of this fact sheet can be accessed via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine using the original URL <>. Be mindful of the small mathematical error on these earlier versions in the counting of the Academic Libraries Other Paid Staff; the amount should be 70,284 and not 70,291.

Last updated: August 2018

For more information on this page, contact the ALA Library Reference Desk by telephone: 800-545-2433, extension 2153; fax: 312-280-3255; e-mail:; or regular mail: ALA Library, American Library Association, 50 East Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60611.