Document 18: Kay Jones Muther, "Sex, Salaries, and Library Support: A New Look," Wilson Library Bulletin 69, no. 8 (April 1995), pp. 37-40, 126


   The series "Sex, Salaries, and Library Support" had appeared annually in the Wilson Library Bulletin since the late 1970s. Muther reported on a study conducted on public librarians' salaries in libraries serving over 100,000 people. She compared data from 1987 and 1994, looking at the per capita expenditures in public libraries, and showed that the growth of expenditures had exceeded the rate of inflation. Most importantly, she compared the salaries of directors of public library by sex, and looked at beginning salaries of librarians, noting that in both cases the trend was positive for both men and women. The author's perspective on the situation of women in the profession provided a more hopeful note than previous articles in this series.

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Kay Jones Muther

    We have heard with some regularity over the past few years about catastrophes in the library world. Library bond issues have failed, libraries have closed or hours have been reduced, book budgets have disappeared, and layoffs have been unavoidable. Those are the headlines. This is the true story.

Data collection

    Statistics about public library support have been collected since 1961. For many years, Allen County Public Library staff in Fort Wayne, Indiana collected this data biennially. Since 1988, the Public Library Data Service has collected the data annually for the Statistical Report prepared by the Public Library Association, a division of the American Library Association. The latter report is used for the 1994 figures in this article.

    A direct comparison with the Allen County figures is not always possible for several reasons. Previous data was divided by region of the United States and Canada. Current data contains combined U.S. and Canadian figures, not regionally subdivided. Allen County questionnaires were sent to libraries serving populations of 100,000 or more; PIA questionnaires went to over 300 smaller libraries, too. For comparison purposes, only libraries serving over 100,000 people were included in the current analysis (see table 1).

    Previous published data represented different categories of population served. Comparisons will be made between four divisions of population to give some idea of the trends from previous to current data; however, it must be remembered that the comparisons are not exact because the categories vary. It can be seen by examining table 2 that the subdivisions are very similar in the percentage of libraries covered, that is, 52 percent of the 1987 libraries are in the smallest category, while 59 percent of the 1994 libraries are in the smallest category, even though the range of population served has been increased from 199,999 to 249,999. In all of the following tables, 1987 data is from the same source.

    For the purpose of comparison, categories A through D will be analyzed. These categories, although similar in the two data sets, are not identical in size, and comparisons are necessarily approximations.

Library support

    The Consumer Price Index (CPI) can be used as an indicator of economic growth. An analysis of the 1987 library support data included a comparison to the two-year growth rate in the CPI of 5.5 percent for the United States and 8.8 percent for Canada.

For the past seven years, the growth in the CPI has ranged from a low of 3 percent from 1991 to 1992 to a high of 5.4 percent from 1989 to 1990. The combined figures from 1987 to 1994 (provisional) for the CPI total 26 percent. This rate of growth is similar to the previously examined two-year period although somewhat more robust. It is a little surprising that the economy in general is this strong, given the hard times that libraries are experiencing.

    It is also surprising that total library support (combined U.S. and Canada) has increased by 48 percent (see table 3). This figure represents per capita support, which means that fast-growing areas would need a great deal more money to keep up with the rate of population growth, but that seems to be happening. The distribution of funds is exactly the same for the 1987 and 1994 data, with the smallest per capita amount going to the largest libraries

Kay Jones Muther is Special Collections and Social Sciences Librarian at California State University-Sacramento;

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and the largest per capita amount going to the second largest libraries.

    The amount of total per capita expenditures in public libraries on the average is exceeding the rate of inflation. It would seem that either the funds are being distributed in vastly different amounts in different parts of the country to account for the high average or perhaps fixed costs erode the amount of support that can be provided per dollar. It is unfortunate that each year or two since 1987 has not been analyzed so that we could look at specific increases. A seven-year average can cover up large differences in annual changes.

Directors: gender and salary

    From 1985 to 1987, the number of library directorships held by women increased 4.6 percent.

Before that period, the percentage of directorships held by men declined from 72 percent to 63.5 percent during the decade 1975 to 1985. So the percentage of women directors rose from 28 percent in 1975 to 36.5 percent in 1985 to 41.1 percent in 1987.

    An examination of table 4 shows that this trend has continued. In the 1994 data, 52 percent of the libraries are headed by men, while women are directors in 47.8 percent and one library directorship is unfilled. Combining all of the available figures discloses that the percentage of male directors went from 72 percent in 1975 to 52 percent in 1994, a decline of 20 percentage points in nineteen years.

    In 1987, the median salary for all directors was $46,409. In 1994, that figure had increased by 42 percent to a median of $67,728. That is a pretty big salary increase, even given the seven-year period covered, when the Consumer Price Index rose by a mere 26 percent.

    The range of salaries received by directors in 1994 is huge, wider by over $17,000 than the range of salaries in 1987 (see table 5). The lowest paid director in 1994, a woman, made a salary of $20,000; the highest paid director, also a woman, received a salary of $110,000. The lowest paid director in 1987, a man. made $22,750, while the highest salary, $95,000. also went to a man.

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    The 1987 data does not include ranges of salary by size of population served but some comparisons can be made between totals. The 1994 data shows an astonishing range in the salaries in the smallest populations analyzed, those from 100,000 to 249,999 people (see table 6). In actuality, only three individual library directors in this category receive salaries of over $90,000, two women and one man, all of whom serve in California libraries. California has been hard hit by its lingering recession, but the salaries of some of its library directors do not reflect this.

    The median salaries received by directors at libraries serving populations of fewer than 500,000 for 1994 and 400,000 for 1987, categories A and B, are very close together in both data sets. In categories A, B, and C, male directors make, on the average, more money than the women. But in category D, libraries serving cities with the most people, women make more money in both sets of data. For 1994, twenty salaries are reported, eleven for men and nine for women. The only salaries over $100,000 both go to women, and none of the women makes less than $76,149, while four of the men make $75,000 or less. The small number of women's salaries reported is significantly affected by the two unusually high salaries.

    There is another interesting way to look at the data displayed in table 6. Table 7 compares increases in directors' median salaries, which clearly shows that they are doing better than the national inflation rate.

    Overall, women directors' median salaries have increased by higher percentages than those of men. Category B has the largest increases in salaries for both men and women, while category C has the smallest. Since all medians increased by at least 35 percent, it can be assumed that directors' salaries have not felt the pinch, at least not yet.

Trends in beginning salaries

    Libraries in category A, those serving populations of 100,000 to 199,999 in 1987 and 100,000 to 249,999 in 1994, hired the largest number of beginning professional librarians and paid the lowest salaries (see table 8). As can be


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THAN $20,000 HIGHER.

seen with the median salaries of directors, the median salaries paid to beginners have increased more than the CPI.

    Increases of 34 to 39 percent in beginning librarians' salaries are significant, even taking into account the seven-year period covered. Encouraging, too, is the fact that more beginners were hired for the 1993-94 year than in the earlier time period, 380 and 354, respectively. Even though the price tag is higher, there is still a demand.

    Data on the range of salaries paid to beginning professional librarians has some surprises (see table 9). The lowest reported salary for a beginner in 1994 is over $6,000 higher than the lowest salary reported in 1987, but the highest salary is more than $20,000 higher. In 1987, the complete range from the very lowest salary, $9,568, to the very highest, $30,648, is around $21,000; in 1994, the widest range is over $30,000, from $16,000 to $49,032.

    It is also interesting to note that there is a positive correlation between salary and size of library served.

    The data was also examined to determine if there was a financial advantage to working in a library headed by a man (see table 10). While this may have been true in the past, there no longer appears to be any significant difference. There are more libraries, 45 percent, with female directors that pay beginners $24,000 or less; only 36 percent of the beginners in libraries with male directors fall in this salary range. On the other hand, the only beginning librarians making over $40,000 work for women.

Looking ahead

    Although some of the categories have changed or disappeared between the two data collection periods, it is possible

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to see some trends emerge clearly. There is still growing support for libraries in a real and monetary sense. An overall increase of 48 percent in per capita support proves that.

    The trend to equalize directorships between men and women still continues. In the past nineteen years, there has been a 20 percentage point shift in the figures, going from 72 percent male directorships to only 52 percent. If this trend continues, within the next two or three years, the majority of library directors in libraries serving populations of over 100,000 will be women.

    The trend in salaries is up. Both directors and beginning professional librarians enjoyed an increase of over 30 percent in salaries during a time that the Consumer Price Index increased by only 26 percent.

    During the past few years, much of the library news has been bad. It is encouraging, however, to learn that during the past seven years the average per capita support is up, the average salary is up, and the number of beginning librarians is up. That's pretty upbeat news, isn't it?


4. Kathleen Heim and Carolyn Kacena, "Sex, Salaries and Library Support." Library Journal, September 15, 1981, 1695. table 6.

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