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Despite a difficult economy and tightening budgets, both jobs and salaries rose for 2007 grads. Echoing the previous year's growth, reported annual salaries increased approximately 3.1%, from $41,014 in 2006 to $42,361. The picture was most positive for graduates in the Southeast, whose average annual starting salary surged past the $40,000 barrier that graduates there have been struggling to reach, increasing to $41,579, a significant gain of 8.2%. Minority graduates who found jobs in the Southeast also reported a reversal of fortunes, with average annual
starting salaries up by 16.2% to $46,093, after falling to $39,674 in 2006.
In other highlights, academic libraries in the Northeast contributed to the improved job scene, with 11.8% more graduates hired and salaries up approximately 5.5% to $41,340. School library media specialists experienced higher placement rates in almost all regions of the United States and at worst held steady from the previous year, with commensurate salaries approximately 5.6% higher than in 2006.
There are many more positive aspects to note, with minorities and men faring even better than the 3.1% average overall rise in salaries, at 5.5% and 4.4% growth, respectively. The tremendous jump in salaries for new hires in the Southeast helped propel the overall average upward, with an additional boost from the extraordinarily high salaries garnered by the graduates of the University of Michigan (averaging $55,869, almost 32% above the rest). With the exception of the combined Canadian and international reporting, regional salaries across the board topped the $40,000 level, compared to 2006, when salaries in the Southeast, Midwest, and Southwest remained in the high $30,000s. Regionally, salary growth in the Northeast and in the Southwest was slightly lower than the average but nonetheless up from previous years. One real surprise was substantial growth in the number of graduates accepting professional positions as archivists. Compared with other types of jobs, archival placements comprise about 4.3% of the reported staffing. However, this was a 22% increase from the previous year. Archivists also experienced a 14.4% bump up in salary, to $40,286.
Nonetheless, 2007 was not without challenges. For a second year in a row, nonprofessional and temporary positions increased, hinting at the struggles many library systems face in maintaining high levels of service with fewer resources and personnel. The job search was a little longer and a little harder for many graduates, and reports indicate a continued rise in part-time positions.
Fewer responses from LIS graduates were received for 2007, though the response rate continues to fluctuate around 33%; over the last several survey periods it ranged from 30% to 40%. Of the approximate 5300 reported graduates, 1,768 responded. This has implications for measuring some placements, but overall percentages were consistent with previous years.
Public libraries drive job growth
Public libraries continue to be a popular choice for employment, averaging 28% of the overall reported placements. This figure has held steady over the last several years, consistently hovering around 27% to 29%. Increased hires were reported in the Midwest (up approximately 12%); in the Southwest, graduates reported 12.2% more public library hires. Unfortunately, public library salaries in the Midwest and Southwest did not follow suit, dipping an average of 3.0% below 2006 averages.
An area of concern is children's services. Placements decreased, and salaries were flat for 2007. One possible explanation may be a redefining of the title to encompass both children's and youth services (teen and/or YA librarians), as there was a 3.6% increase in the number of grads reporting their job as youth services rather than children's. However, average starting salaries for youth services librarians decreased 3.53%, to $35,929. The other possibility for decreased numbers is the overall economic impact on library funding and the number of public libraries, which employ the majority of children's and youth services librarians, suffering layoffs and reductions in services.
School library snapshot
School library media centers showed some of the best growth among all types of library and information science agencies in 2007. Placements in the Midwest, Southwest, and West increased substantially, averaging 26.8% growth across the three regions. At the same time, the overall average starting salary for new school library media specialists took a giant step up to $44,935 (an impressive 5.6% increase from $42,420 in 2006). This improvement was spurred by a 9.9% growth in salaries in the Southwest and 20% in the West. Some caution needs to be applied to the salary growth for school library media specialists, however, as many grads explain that their salaries are based on a standard teacher's pay scale for their states. As teachers move from the classroom to the media center, salary and compensation levels follow them; this means that the level they earned in the classroom will be their base for the media center positions and doesn't always indicate a pay increase with the achievement of the master's degree.
A changing academic environment
In light of recent professional discussions about tenure status for academic librarians, it seemed timely to explore graduate experiences in academic settings. Of the 416 graduates who accepted positions in academic libraries, 336 responded to inquiries regarding their faculty status and appointment. Surprisingly 81.2% were hired for nontenured positions, and only 3.2% of the new hires had nine-month (or academic year) appointments. (A question that was not explored but may address the tenure/nontenure conundrum is the number of academic librarians in community or junior colleges compared with those at tiered research institutions.)
The more interesting responses were from the academic librarians who described their appointments as "other." This group comprised 21.9% of the responses to questions about the length of their service term (nine-month vs. 12-month). The appointments were described in a variety of ways, including grant-funded short-term, adjunct, semester by semester, and library fellows programs. One perhaps not unexpected finding was that the new academic librarians with tenure-earning status (18.8% of respondents) garnered starting salaries that were 8.8% higher than those of the nontenure-earning professionals and 6.7% higher than those of all new academic librarians ($43,634 compared to $40,090 and $40,911, respectively).
I-school vs. L-school
This year's survey provided real opportunities to examine the debate between library science and information science in more detail. In 2006 and again in 2007, graduates were asked to define whether their jobs were information science (IS), library science (LS), or other. Of the 1,347 graduates who responded to the question, 75.8% stated that their jobs were definitely LS, 9.2% claimed IS (down slightly from 2006), and the remaining 15% described their positions as falling into other professional areas, most frequently as grant-supported positions, corporate affiliation, or education (classroom teachers and higher education). The "other" category was also used for many of the reported archival positions.
The LS vs. IS question represents more than philosophical underpinnings and types of jobs (user experience interface designer vs. reference/information specialist, for example). For some it shows a significant difference in salary. A straight dollar-to-dollar comparison suggests that graduates describing their jobs as IS earned almost 20% more on average for their starting salaries than other graduates ($48,354 compared to $40,308). Five of the iSchools Caucus members reported average starting salaries significantly above the overall averages (ranging from 9.6% higher to a whopping 31.9% higher). Interestingly, though higher overall, the IS salaries remained flat between 2006 and 2007 while the salaries for LS jobs improved by 1.8%.
On the other hand, designation as an I-school and membership in the iSchools Caucus seem to have less impact on how the graduates defined themselves. The IS graduates who clearly identified themselves with information science made up only 28% of the IS pool.
The combination of regionality and IS designation also played a role in salary achievements. Graduates who accepted jobs on the West Coast historically attained higher salaries than others. In 2007, the pay difference was 19.7% (or $8,375) for all graduates. Salary differences were even more apparent when regional placement was compared among the IS graduates. Graduates identifying IS positions on the West Coast earned 36.3% higher salaries than the entire pool of IS grads. The graduates who defined their jobs as IS-related in the Midwest, where overall salaries were among the lowest in 2007, negotiated the lowest salaries for positions.
Where the jobs are
In light of the LS vs. IS debate, a few unexpected trends among the individual schools' placements emerged along with several predictable ones. Graduates of University of Washington, an I-school, for example, reported 42.9% of their placements in public libraries when one might anticipate there would be higher placements in other types of agencies among I-school graduates. Despite high placements …