Library Juice 6:25 - November 27, 2003

Happy Thanksgiving


1. Links...
2. Critical discussion of the Better Salaries initiative
3. ALA-APA Director Named

Quote for the week:

"With my library card I am rich. It is my access to the inviting learning

- Loretta Jordan, quoted in the ALA national campaign Libraries Change Lives,
and later in Michael Gorman's _Our Singular Strengths: Meditations for
Librarians_ (Chicago: ALA, 1998)

Homepage of the week: Michael Gorman


1. Links...


New on the server:

SRRT Newsletter 144/145

Three articles from Progressive Librarian #22:

Activist Librarianship: Heritage or Heresy? by Ann Sparanese

Operation -- Patriot's Act: The Role of School Libraries in Promoting a Free
and Informed Society, by Michele Sipley

Vandals in the Stacks? A Response to Nicholson Baker's Assault on Libraries,
by Richard Cox, Reviewed by Lincoln Cushing


The Brass Check: A Study of American Journalism
By Upton Sinclair

Chapters 1-9 in hypertext, which make the basic point of the book:

The whole book in .doc format:

An article in Monthly Review about The Brass Check that will serve as an
introduction to Monthly Review Press's new edition of the book, to be
released soon:

[ found surfing ]


Liquidation of the Commons
There has not been such a wholesale giveaway of
America's public assets since McKinley was president in
the late 1800s

By Adam Werbach.November 21, 2003, In These Times.

[ sent to PLGnet-L by Kathleen McCook ]


Two bibliographies on the Commons, thanks to

The Information Commons: Selected Bibliography
Prepared by
Nancy Kranich
Past President, American Library Association,
Revised November 2002

The Comprehensive Bibliography of the Commons
Compiled by Charlotte Hess
(The new bibliography contains 37,000 citations and over 5,000 abstracts)
Updated April 30, 2003

[ found surfing ]


Innovation 22 (Innovation is a major South African library journal)
June 2001
Progressive librarianship

[ sent by Al Kagan to SRRTAC-L ]


Cyber-Marx: Cycles and Circuits of Struggle in High Technology Capitalism
(Published as a book by University of Illinois Press, 1999)
Nick Dyer Witherford

[ found searching ]


Lester Asheim in Cyberspace: A Tribute to Sound Reasoning

[ sent by Don Wood to IFACTION ]


Public Statement by American Library Association President Dr. Carla
Hayden Submitted to a Judicial Committee Hearing, "America After 9/11:
Freedom Preserved or Freedom Lost?"

[ sent by Don Wood to IFACTION ]


Sanford Berman project for UBC SLAIS LIBR 517

[ sent to me in paper form in the mail by Sandy Berman ]


OCLC and The Library Hotel settle trademark complaint

[ sent by Andrew Braid to liblicense-l ]


Congress Expands FBI Spying Power
By Ryan Singel
Nov. 24, 2003, Wired Magazine,1283,61341,00.html

[ sent by Mark Rosenzweig to ALACOUN and Member-Forum ]


Bad Books Library, Dublin, Ireland

[ sent by Chuck Munson to the anarchist librarians list ]


Google Bayesian Spam Filtering Problem?

[ sent by Seth Finkelstein to his InfoThought list ]


NCES "Academic Libraries 2000"
(Contains salary information)

[ sent by ALA Immediate Past President Mitch Freedman to various ALA lists ]


Important article on Filtering by Karen Schneider

[ sent by Karen Schneider to ALACOUN ]


Become a Librarian!

[ found on's link page ]


2. Critical discussion of the Better Salaries initiative

The following is discussion about librarians' salaries and Mitch
Freedman's salaries initiative that took place in May of this year
between myself and members the Better Salaries Task Force,
including Yvonne Farley, Margaret Myers, Carol Brey, Joan Goddard,
Mark Hudson and Luis Acosta. I made contact with this group following
conversations with Jenna Freedman about the initiative. I felt that
publishing this discussion at the time wouldn't have been productive,
but I now think enough time has passed that it can be.

Subject: Re: salaries criticism
Date: Thu, 29 May 2003 22:40:42 -0700
From: Rory Litwin <rlitwin[at]>
To: [discussants]

Hello Yvonne, Margaret, Carol, Joan, Mary, Mark, and Luis (and Jenna).

Jenna has told you that I was planning on writing an article critical of
the better salaries initiative. After talking to her about it and
thinking about it on my own I decided that it wouldn't serve much of a
purpose. I'm not sure how offensive my ideas would be to the library
community if I published them - I tend to think that a lot of people would
agree with me - but I don't see much point in attacking the initiative,
now that it is underway and potentially a success. After all, if the
initiative succeeds and my own salary goes up as a result, I am probably
not going to complain. More importantly, if a grossly underpaid librarian
sees their salary go up, that would be a good outcome. I wouldn't try to
deny that.

As I understand it, after Jenna gave you the news that I was not going to
write the article after all, there was still some curiosity in this group
about what I had been planning to say. I'll try to write it down
coherently here, avoiding polemics as much as I can. You might have
responses that will open my eyes. If we all agree that it would be a
positive thing, we could end up publishing the collected thread in an
upcoming Library Juice - but only if we all agree it is a positive thing.


My first issue with the initiative is its portrayal of librarians as
low-paid as a group. The idea that librarians are low-paid is absolutely
essential in turning the effort to raise our salaries into a social-justice
issue, one that can get librarians angry (or angry again, if they were
politically active in the late 60's and early 70's and have grown
complacent since, and want to recover a sense of moral purpose). While I
think there are librarians in poor parts of the country who are poorly paid
by the middle class standards of the average librarian (in the United
States or Europe), the average librarian in the US is actually in an upper
income bracket for the country. This is contrary to conventional wisdom,
which says that we are working almost for free because it is an altruistic
profession (which I think it is, despite the pretty good pay - I will get
to that later). I am basing my assertion on the ALA Salaries Survey,
Census figures on mean and median individual income, and the Bureau of
Labor Statistics article "Rankings of full-time occupations, by earnings,
2000," which is available on the web.

According to this article, librarians rank 95th out of 427 occupations
surveyed, with an average rate of pay $23.76 per hour. This figure has a
relative standard error of 3.8%, on the low end for the survey. Librarians
rank just above "Chief executives and general administrators, public
administration" at 96th, "Supervisors, extractive occupations" at 97th,
"Public relations specialists" at 98th, "Tile setters, hard and soft," at
99th, and "Underwriters" at 100th. Computer programmers are 104th, and
Architects are 103rd. Accountants, mentioned in the Tookit as a group we
would like to be paid as well as, rank 122nd, at $21.51/hr. Making a
little more than librarians are "Urban planners" at 92nd, and "Editors and
reporters" at 86th, making $24.81/hr. Athletes are 65th, at $28.13/hr, and
Elementary School Teachers are way up at 59th, at $28.86/hr (for a nine
month year - their annual pay depends on what they do for money the other
three months). This is a very interesting report that shows a certain gap
between the image that various occupations have versus the pay that people
in those occupations get. I think the motivation behind the salaries
initiative, the feeling that we are undervalued, is more based on a sense
of a lack of respect for librarians in society than a real lack of pay for
any but the most poorly paid librarians.

The argument I've just made that librarians are actually well-paid compared
to other occupations doesn't take into account the requirement of a masters
degree. Now, some would say that it's classist to assert that a someone
with a masters degree deserves more money than someone who doesn't have
one, if they both work as hard (or if they are otherwise just as
deserving). I won't make that argument, because I think it's not at all
convincing these days, not even to me - but I will point out that it's an
argument. Others would say that just because our job requires a Masters
degree doesn't mean that it is more complex, requires more knowledge or is
more difficult, and certainly doesn't mean that it is more physically
dangerous or entails greater legal liabilities. And when I think back on
the Masters program I attended and a lot of the library work I've done I'm
inclined to listen to this. (Everyone wants the world to know how
difficult, complex, knowledge-based, etc. their own occupation is.
Comparable worth studies such as Anne Turner's in California have a fatal
flaw if they claim to objectively compare the worth of different jobs by
using members of just one of the the occupations being compared to judge
which occupations are comparable.)

But let's accept for the sake of argument that the pay of librarians should
be compared to the pay of other occupations which require a masters degree,
and that librarians are being paid markedly less than comparable workers.
The salaries initiative says that this is a gender-based inequity, that
librarians are being paid less because they are mostly women, whose work is
undervalued because of sexism. This could be true, and would definitely
amount to a social justice issue in that case (though not one that is
likely to cause a mass movement). I personally believe that this is not
the real reason librarians are paid less. I could be wrong, and I don't
think there is much social science evidence coming down either way on the
question, but it seems to me that women are often in lower paid occupations
because they are more willing to enter altruistic professions - that is,
professions where there is a strong motivation for doing the work that is
not economic, and where the work itself doesn't end up generating money
that can pay high salaries (like engineering or law). Whether married or
not, I think women are less socialized to be breadwinners, and are probably
more socialized to be of help to society.

Librarianship, at least the way we like to understand it today, has a
definite "social good" aspect. The role of libraries and librarians in
maintaining (or trying to build) the conditions of democracy and to
preserve and provide access to culture and to empower people is frequently
talked about, but seldom in the context of a discussion where it is
essential to say that we have to stop thinking of librarianship as an
altruistic profession. I think librarianship IS an altruistic profession.
It seems to me that the downside of the salaries initiative is that it
might succeed in getting librarians to stop thinking of this as an
altruistic profession, where our motivation really does come from certain
values that are higher than the value of more money. I think it is simply
inaccurate to think that much more money can be generated or redirected to
us without compromising those values, especially considering what we are
already paid. The reason for this is that educating the people for
democracy and preserving and providing access to culture are not activities
that make business sense, but will be done by people as long as people
think it's important to do them (despite salaries in the inequitable
low-mid 40's).

I should probably tell you a little bit more about where I'm coming from,
if this is seeming a little strange. I have pretty much a middle class
background, but grew up having less than most of the people around me. As
I grew up I was first aware of having less than other people, and then
later became aware that I was pretty affluent by the standards of the US,
and began to feel guilty. Later I learned about the affluence of
Americans by global standards, including Americans barely making what is
considered a "living wage." (The global poverty level is considered to
be $1 a day, meaning someone making $2 a day is not considered to be
living in poverty if they're in a really poor country.) The affluence of
North Americans and to an extent Europeans (including the working class)
has caused global warming, polluted the ocean, air and land and has
radically changed the ecosystem, destroying 10's of thousands of species.
Unhappiness in the Global South is caused not by what we understand as
poverty, but by inequality (i.e. gross affluence). Our response to this
is development efforts designed to give them the same type of affluence
that we have, but on a scale of billions and billions of people. It seems
obvious that the environment is already straining under the pressure of
existing affluence; creating that much more seems to me a kind of suicide
by gluttony. It also seems clear that our affluence hasn't created
happiness for us so much as it has created a large market for Zoloft and
similar drugs.

That's my general perspective. Now let me take you back to that time in my
life when I was chosing a career. I struggled between my desire to be a
moral person and my desire to consume more than I need. I made a
compromise by choosing a profession that has turned out to be much better
paying than I originally thought it was when I signed up. The (I thought)
low pay was one of the reasons I chose the profession - I understood that
working in an altruistic profession really is its own reward. I felt good
about the fact that as a librarian I would be giving (by my work) more than
I would be taking (by consuming).

Besides learning that the pay is more than I ever expected (and my pay is
around average), I found out on the job that the profession has other
rewards that are paid lip service but are never made a part of the calculus
of compensation, as I think they rightfully should be. I'm talking about
the fact that as librarians we enjoy what are probably the best working
conditions of any profession in existence. This is in terms of the
relative lack of stress, the intellectual stimulation, the satisfaction of
helping and working for a better society, the degree of control over our
work, and the professional community that we enjoy. To me, this is well
worth the differential between what I make and what an engineer or a lawyer

So what about the librarians at the low end of the wage scale, working in
West Virginia or western Pennsylvania? I personally think it might be a
good idea to have a campaign specifically for the most poorly-paid
librarians. A union drive and negotiations based on prevailing wage could
be a real help for librarians working in poor communities. But I think - I
don't really know this, but it's my general sense - I think the fact that
these are poor communities is more of a factor in the librarians' low pay
than a relative lack of respect for librarians in these communities. That
is, it seems to me that most everyone in these communities is underpaid
relative to people in the rest of the country, because these communities
are poor, which means it's not clear where the money would come from to pay
their librarians more; keeping the libraries open seems to be a more
immediate challenge (as it is even in moderately affluent areas that have
come on hard times lately). Federal funding could balance things out, to a
degree, but local governments might not want the strings attached, and
getting that funding would be a tremendous political challenge, maybe not
even realistic to think about.

Those are most of the ideas that I had planned to work into the article.
Most would have been more fleshed out.

It's what I think, but I'm open to correction and am willing to see things
in another way if I'm missing major parts of the picture, so I hope you
will send me your thoughts on what I've written. As I said earlier, I
think that there are probably a lot of people in the profession who share
my views, so the answers you come up with could be useful.


Rory Litwin


Re: salaries criticism
Date: Sat, 31 May 2003 01:49:56 -0400
From: Mark Hudson <hudsonm[at]>
To: [discussants]

Speaking as a committed supporter of the better salaries initiative, I
nevertheless believe that Rory has highlighted some important contradictions
in the initiative as it has developed over the past couple of years.
Specifically, his contention that "The idea that librarians are low-paid is
absolutely essential in turning the effort to raise our salaries into a
social-justice issue" resonates very strongly with concerns I've raised
before in discussions with other supporters of the campaign.

In the early days of the Moneytalks list, I expressed extreme skepticism
about the data on the salaries of beginning librarians contained in the
annual ALA salary study, and about the rather uncritical use of that data in
the Toolkit produced by the Better Salaries Task Force, which I otherwise
consider to be a very useful document for those of us who support the
initiative. The ALA salary study for that year, if I recall correctly,
concluded that the average salary of a beginning MLS-degreed librarian was
about $34,000 a year. It arrived at this figure using what I argued was an
extremely questionable methodology. A questionnaire was sent to somewhere
around a thousand library directors, of which I think about a half to
two-thirds responded. (I don't remember the exact number, but it isn't
crucial to my criticism of the methodology of the study.) The problem with
the methodology, as I saw it and continue to see it, was that the directors
were asked to provide salary information only for full-time, MLS-degreed
librarians. But in the public libraries in the part of the country where I
live, probably at least half of the MLS-degreed library positions are less
than full-time and pay between $8 and $11 an hour. And I've seen job ads and
heard stories from public librarians in other parts of country that indicate
this problem isn't confined to just one or two areas (contrary to what Rory
suggests). So, as I see it, it's not only that the $34,000 average beginning
librarian figure arrived at by the ALA study is absurdly inflated. What's
worse, the study essentially refuses to even recognize the existence of a
large number of very poorly-paid librarians. Although I realize there's
probably little if any available statistical data on these librarians, I've
never understood why an initiative that seeks to show that librarians are
grossly underpaid would base itself on information that completely ignores
the most grossly underpaid librarians among us. Surely the statisticians at
ALA could find some way to incorporate part-time and hourly-waged librarians
into their salary studies.

So I'm somewhat sympathetic to Rory's idea of "a campaign specifically for
the most poorly-paid librarians." I think that would be preferable to a
campaign that begins with the premise that librarians are grossly underpaid
because they only start out at $34,000 a year. But what I think would be
even better is an initiative that represents the interests of ALL librarians
by recognizing not only the salary disparities between librarians and other
occupations requiring similar skills, education and responsibilities, but
also the disparities WITHIN the profession -- i.e. between relatively
well-paid and grossly underpaid librarians, between academic and public
librarians, between librarians in large, relatively well-funded urban
systems and those in smaller libraries with poor local funding bases. Such
an initiative would also represent the interests of paraprofessional library
workers, many of whom don't even receive a living wage -- let alone $34,000
a year.

I think to a large extent the better salaries initiative has tried to
incorporate these concerns. The resolution drafted by several of us on the
Moneytalks list calling for a "Fair Pay for Librarians and Library Workers
Week" (I'm not sure if that's the exact title) and introduced in Council at
Midwinter this past January struck a very good balance between the idea of
"fair pay" based on skills, education and responsibilities and the concept
of a "living wage" for the most poorly-paid librarians and library workers.
Interestingly, it did so over the objections of a few (but only a few)
Moneytalkers who didn't think the concept of a living wage was relevant to
our campaign. If I recall correctly, some of these were the same people who
had earlier dismissed my concerns about part-time and hourly-waged
librarians. I remember one person even suggested that focusing attention on
librarians at the low end of the wage scale might have the unintended effect
of reducing the salaries of those already in the $30-40,000 range!

But I still think the better salaries initiative could do more to make it
clear that we want to represent all librarians and library workers, from the
relatively well-paid to the grossly underpaid. We could start by getting the
statisticians at ALA to do a salary study that includes data on the
part-time and hourly-waged, and that also looks at health insurance, paid
time off and other benefits of employment.

I've never thought of the better salaries initiative as an end in itself,
but only as a means to an end. In other words, I've never believed that the
initiative could in and of itself bring about better salaries for librarians
and library workers. Ultimately I think that can only come about through
widespread union organization and a social justice movement in coalition
with other social justice movements that increase our collective power and
thereby force funders, policymakers and administrators to start treating us
fairly and paying us all what we're worth. The purpose of the better
salaries campaign in ALA, it seems to me, is to increase awareness and
expectations in the profession to the point where librarians and library
workers will ON THEIR OWN start building the organizations and movement that
are needed to do that.

The issue of library salaries is a political issue -- an issue of social
spending priorities -- as much as an economic one. So I don't agree that
"turning the effort to raise our salaries into a social-justice issue"
simply means portraying librarians as "low-paid as a group". It means
demonstrating the injustice of library salaries in disparate sectors of the
profession -- along with the necessity of strong, well-funded libraries for
expanding democracy and preserving culture -- and then building the
solidarity and movement needed to achieve justice for all. And although I
take seriously Rory's concern about the salaries initiative "getting
librarians to stop thinking of this as an altruistic profession", I don't
believe that's going to happen as long as the campaign is based on values of
solidarity and social justice.



Re: salaries criticism
Date: Fri, 06 Jun 2003 11:54:16 -0400
From: "Luis Acosta" <laco[at]>
To: [discussants]

Dear Rory,

Thank you for your e-mail of May 30 to some of us in the better
salaries initiative. As is often the case with your writing, your
comments raise important and thought-provoking issues. Here are some of
my own personal reactions.

The most important part of your comments pertain to your concern that
the salaries movement "might succeed in getting librarians to stop
thinking of this as an altruistic profession," and so the initiative
might do harm to the role of libraries in preserving or building
democratic culture. I want to make sure you are aware that all of us
active in the salaries movement agree with you that the bottom line is
preserving the democratic ideals of our profession. It is precisely the
need to preserve these values that motivates us to fight for better
salaries for librarians.

What is the relationship between preserving the democratic values of
librarianship and improving salaries for librarians? The key is that a
sufficient number of people need to be recruited into the profession to
keep this librarianship enterprise going. I'm sure you are aware of the
studies that show that an inadequate number of people are entering
library schools to replace the people who are scheduled to retire. Our
profession's failure to recruit sufficient new entry demonstrates that
compensation is inadequate to attract sufficient people.

This was a point I made in an article I wrote that appeared in the
Spring 2003 issue of Law Library Lights, the newsletter of the Law
Librarians' Society of Washington, D.C. Because this issue has not yet
been placed on line, I'll quote several paragraphs from my article:


Complacency toward the inadequate compensation members of our
profession receive is unwarranted. The librarian profession is
experiencing a crisis in recruitment. Demographic data reveal that
there is inadequate entry of new librarians to replace those who will
become eligible for retirement in coming years. Numerous studies, such
as those by Prof. James Matarazzo of the library school at Simmons
College, show that an insufficient number of entrants to the profession
will be available to replace those who will retire. [See, e.g., James M.
Matarazzo, Library Human Resources: the Y2K Plus 10 Challenge, 26 J.
Acad. Librshp. 223 (2000).]

A central reason for insufficient entry into the profession is that
compensation levels are inadequate to provide incentives to incur the
significant costs of education necessary for such entry. Persons
considering librarianship as a career have to weigh the expected salary
they will receive against the costs they will have to incur to obtain a
master's degree. The economic gains from education in librarianship are
far lower than those of other professions requiring similar levels of
education. Because the economic rewards are insufficient, not enough
people are entering the profession. Thus it will not do to simply "get
over the fact that we are not sufficiently valued," as Prof. Berring
counsels, because our profession will become increasingly more
marginalized if we fail to make library careers more attractive

Under traditional economic theory, all things being equal, the coming
shortage of librarians should tend to result in salary improvements as
demand begins to exceed supply. But the example of another profession,
nursing, demonstrates that labor markets for professions requiring
significant training do not easily correct themselves to smooth over
supply-demand imbalances. The U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services has found that in the year 2000 the total supply of registered
nurses nationwide was 6% below the nationwide demand, and it projects
this shortage to worsen to 29% by 2020. [U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, National
Center for Health Workforce Analysis, Projected Supply, Demand, and
Shortages of Registered Nurses, 2000-2020 (July 2002),] Not
coincidentally, nursing, like librarianship, traditionally has been a
predominantly female profession that has experienced corresponding pay
inequities relative to other professions requiring similar levels of

Moreover, as librarian retirements increase, employers who do not
understand the value of skilled librarians may begin to replace them
with non-librarians, or simply not bother to replace them at all. (After
all, who needs a librarian when you have Google?) When labor shortages
in nursing result in nurses being overworked, patients die - a tragic
but numerically measurable phenomenon. But when librarians are gone, the
effect of inefficient distribution of information and knowledge is much
harder to measure.

Given the challenge to the very survival of the profession of
librarianship, it is essential that we continue our efforts across the
law librarian profession to improve our economic circumstances.


My stilted prose in the article goes on and on, but you get the idea.
Anyway, my fear is that when this pending shortage begins to manifest
itself in earnest, the response by organizations that currently employ
librarians will not be to raise salaries (and thereby help attract new
supply) but rather to simply dispense with the requirement that
librarian positions be filled with people who have been trained in MLS
programs. This prospect bothers me, because I believe MLS programs are
an important part of preserving the democratic values of our profession.
MLS programs socialize people into thinking about, and more often than
not agreeing, with these democratic ideals. The salary problem has
caused a recruitment crisis, which in turn could lead to a crisis of
maintaining the professional ideals of librarianship. If this analysis
is right, then the salary movement, rather than threatening what you
call the altruistic nature of this profession, could be the savior of
these values.

Turning to some of your other points, in your comments you say that "I
personally believe that [gender-based inequity] is not the real reason
librarians are paid less." You then observe that "women are often in
lower paid professions because they are more willing to enter altruistic
professions." I'm not sure whether you are positing a causal link here,
but it is not correct that gender inequity cannot co-exist with women
choosing to enter altruistic professions. You state that "I don't think
there is much social science evidence coming down either way . . . ."
In fact, there is a massive amount of scholarship dealing with these
very questions in the fields of women's studies and feminist political
economy. The fact of women tending to enter altruistic professions is
simply a matter of women's history in industrialized societies. During
the late 19th Century, as women began to leave the private, domestic
sphere and moved into the public sphere of commodified labor, their
opportunities were limited largely to various "caring" professions, like
teaching, nursing, social work, and librarianship. Women have tended to
occupy what you call altruistic professions (what feminist economists
call "care work," "caring labor" or "emotional labor") not on an
entirely voluntary basis, and not because of some essentially nurturing
nature. Women working in paid labor began to have a choice as to
whether the work was "altruistic" only fairly recently. You may wish to
consult the scholarship of folks like Nancy Folbre and Carol Baines, for
example, on this historical development.

It is very significant to the well-being of these "altruistic"
professions, including librarianship, that society can no longer count
on exploiting the selflessness of women to work in these jobs at
inequitable pay. Over the last three or four decades it has become much
easier for women to enter other, better paying professions. This may
contribute to the recruitment crisis I mentioned above. But this
doesn't mean that gender-based inequity has gone away. And the solution
is not to ignore pay inequity, but to ensure that librarians and other
people in altruistic professions are compensated at levels that reflect
the necessary level of investment in education for entry into these

Feminist scholars have also addressed concerns like yours over whether
paying more equitably in the caring professions will contaminate the
altruistic nature of these professions. See, e.g., Julie A. Nelson, "Of
Markets and Martyrs: Is it OK to Pay Well For Care?," in Feminist
Economics, Vol. 5 (No. 3) (1999), at pages 43-59. Nelson's article
addresses the same sort of questions you raise: "Is it appropriate to
apply 'market values' to caring work? Does demanding higher money
payment just buy into masculinist norms of markets and commodification?
Aren't we somehow assured of a higher level of 'real' caring, if the
workers chose this work, when they could have made more money elsewhere?
. . . . Meanwhile, what about the neoclassical economic theory of
compensating wage differentials, according to which low-paid care
workers are fully compensated but simply choose to take a portion of
their pay in warm feelings instead of cash?" Nelson analyzes these
questions finds that there is little reason to fear that higher wages
for caring workers will damage the cause of altruistic work. This
analysis could be applied to your specific concern that librarians in
particular might stop thinking about librarianship as an altruistic
profession if we succeed in improving salaries.

You mention comparable worth and remark about possible flaws in
comparative worth studies. While comparable worth is not an exact
science, its inexactitude does not invalidate the principle that one
should strive for pay equity between the sexes. With or without
comparable worth, there is no objective, value-free science to setting
compensation, so attacking comparable worth as non-objective is beside
the point. The wage structure in modern industrial society is a social
construct. Large organizations typically have administrative mechanisms
for setting wages; they do not leave wage-setting purely to the market
(which would be impossible in a mature capitalist society). The
prevailing wage structures between professions reflect values inherited
from decades ago, prior to when feminism started advocating for
comparable worth, as to what types of economic activity were deemed more
valuable than others. Those determinations incorporated the prevailing
sexist assumptions of that time period (which sexist assumptions still
exist, although maybe in less obvious forms). Comparable worth is an
effort to correct shortcomings in the way wage structures within
organizations are determined to eliminate the sexist assumptions that
are built into them. While there certainly are methodological
difficulties, the importance of the policy of eliminating gender-based
inequities make it worthwhile to try to work these difficulties out.

You question whether librarians are in fact poorly paid, citing the
data in the BLS report that ranks occupations by hourly wage. While I
was surprised by the data in this report, I'm not sure if that data
tells the whole story. I see that the total "mean annual hours" for
librarians comes in at 1,773, which accounts for librarians' relatively
high per-hour wage. As you note, elementary school teachers rank even
higher (their "mean annual hours" is 1,423, which accounts for their
high hourly wage). Now, most of the librarians I know (obviously not a
good sample) work 40 hours a week. Evidently there are enough
librarians in educational settings, such as school librarians, that the
annual mean hours for librarians as a whole is relatively low. If one
goes to other BLS data, one sees much greater disparities between
earnings of people in professions like librarianship versus other
professions. (For example, in the 2000 National Occupational Employment
and Wage Estimates, at ,
computer programmers were estimated to made on average $60,970 a year,
with a "mean hourly" rate of $29.31 an hour, while librarians were
estimated to have made on average $42,730 a year, or a $20.54 "mean
hourly" rate.) This data assumes everyone works 2080 hours per year,
which of course is not correct, but the differences in the data makes me
curious how the total number of hours is calculated in the National
Compensation Survey; I wonder what would happen if you just used data
from folks who do work 40 hours a week, for example. (If I figure out
what's going on here I'll send another e-mail.)

You make the statement that "as librarians we enjoy what are probably
the best working conditions of any profession in existence. This is in
terms of the relative lack of stress, the intellectual stimulation, the
satisfaction of helping [etc.]." I know that it is common for
librarians to tell themselves this, and most of the time I tend to agree
with it. However, it occurred to me the other day that there is quite a
bit of emotional labor associated with my job as I was assisting a
paranoid schizophrenic woman who thought she had been hypnotized and
abused by the FBI and was convinced that Johnny Cochran had represented
her in the early stages of a lawsuit that ultimately went to the U.S.
Supreme Court. This sort of thing happens not infequently to me at my
job. I think it's hard work.

On the question whether the glory of librarianship justifies the low
salaries, forgive me for questioning whether we live in the best of all
possible worlds. I myself worked as a lawyer for over a decade, and
while most of the time I am glad I switched careers and became a
librarian, I sometimes wonder, as I sit in my cubicle, whether my
working conditions are so much better that it compensates for earning
less than half of what I used to make. (Of course, my job at the Law
Library of Congress makes me better off than a lot of other librarians.)
I guess under the economists' concept of "revealed preference," it must
be true that the differential is worth it to me since I have continued
to work as a librarian and not as a lawyer. I must confess, however,
that I sometimes think bad thoughts.

You note correctly that Americans are relatively affluent compared to
others in the world. While this is true, it does not alter the fact
that librarians should be paid equitably relative to other similar
professions in America, so that an adequate number of people will invest
in the education necessary to enter the profession. You also note that
Americans' affluence hasn't collectively increased our subjective
happiness. That point appears to be correct and borne out by the social
science literature. Supposedly the people of Bhutan have the highest
score on the Gross Domestic Happiness index. Again, however, the
question of pay equity is a matter of equity in the overall wage
structure in American professions. Notwithstanding Americans' relative
lack of overall happiness, it is necessary to reward people for
investing in the education necessary to choose librarianship over other
careers, and therefore pay equity is an appropriate policy goal.

Your personal story about how you chose librarianship because you
wanted to be in a profession that affirmed your altruistic values by
paying you less money is probably not a good basis for setting a
professional association's position on the compensation its members
should receive. I understand where you're coming from, and there is a
segment of the population that considers less money to be better than
more. Joni Mitchell sang about this sensibility in her 1975 song "The
Boho Dance," on her album "The Hissing of Summer Lawns," although Joni
indicated she comes out in favor of more money over less. If we could
count on a sufficient number of people to favor less money to more, we
maybe wouldn't need to worry about pay inequity, but I don't think most
people agree with you on this point, Rory. (Bear in mind that some
people have children, aging parents, and other dependents to take care
of, and it is harder for them to luxuriate in sublime and exqusite

Lastly, you conclude by suggesting that perhaps instead of a big,
nationwide salary campaign, it might be better to focus solely on the
problems of poorer areas, like West Virginia. However, I would not
assume that inadequate pay for librarians is limited to poor areas. I
recall recently seeing, for example, a very low salary for a county law
library position in Palm Beach County, Florida. Plus, in affluent
locations it cost more to live, and so a higher salary in a more
affluent area may not necessarily translate into more buying power. If
we were forced to start picking and choosing our fights rather than
going with a nationwide campaign, I would suggest focusing on those
jurisdictions where there is no legislation or policy favoring pay
equity. Of course, that would narrow the task down only a bit, because
only a handful of states that have pay equity on the books, and anyway,
even where pay equity is an express policy of the jurisdiction, the
implementation of pay equity is hardly self-executing. On balance, I
think a nationwide campaign is entirely appropriate. (I'm not saying a
campaign on the federal level; that would be futile in the current
political environment. I mean that I don't think we can just limit the
activism to a handful of poor states, like you suggest.)

I believe that the better salaries initiative is a perfectly
appropriate and proper activity for a professional association to engage
in. I think that it is a perfectly reasonable goal for librarians in
the U.S. to strive to accomplish what was accomplished in New South
Wales, Australia, where, after a court battle over pay equity,
government librarians received a pay increase of around 24% (if I'm
recalling correctly). That seems to me like a good result, and if we
could somehow magically replicate that here I think that would be a good

Yours in the struggle,


Luis M. Acosta
Legal Reference Librarian
Law Library of Congress
101 Independence Ave., S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20540-3120
fax: 202-707-3585

All views expressed herein are mine, and not the official
position of my employer.


Re: "better salaries criticism" thread
Date: Thu, 17 Jul 2003 10:35:02 -0400
From: "Margaret Myers" <mmyers[at]>
To: [discussants]

I did not add anything earlier to the several discussions in May and June
re: better
salaries. At the time, I had other commitments and felt that the various
statements required a much more thoughtful, lengthy response than just
sending a
quick email. I have recently reread the statements from Rory, Mark, and
Luis and think that all three of you have raised many valid points for

Hopefully, the new APA salaries committee (which is taking over from the
presidential task force on better salaries) can review further some of the
questions and comments that you made. In the final report of the task
force, the Research and Resources Working Group made several recommendations
for further action that address some of the issues you discussed. These
include: further analysis of library compensation data to evaluate trends,
suggest additional research, and review for possible use in educating public
officials. In addition to comparisons of library workers with other
occupations, the working group recommended more exploration of the
variations in
salaries and benefits within the library community, including such factors
as geographical area, type of library, level of staff, position
responsibilities, part-time wages, gender, etc. It also recommended that
APA consider more assistance in gaining equitable compensation for those at
the lower-end of salary ranges.

Additional recommendations include: 1) review of library job evaluation and
classification studies and analysis of factors considered in library jobs to
determine their impact on salaries; 2) closer communication with the U.S.
Bureau of Labor Statistics regarding library worker data collection (to
better understand the various sampling procedures and definitions for their
various surveys); 3) review of existing staffing standards in various states
and their impact on staff salaries; and 4) dialog with researchers looking
at the value of library services to include more data on how library workers
provide added value in developing and delivering these services.

Much work remains to be done on all fronts; nationally, regionally,
statewide, and locally. Because of the wide variations in jurisdictional
structures and who controls library job classifications and salaries, it
can't all be done by ALA-APA. APA can provide tools, guidance, and
visibility, but much has to be done within individual jurisdictions in
cooperation with the public officials/administrators responsible for those
jurisdictions (e.g., community, campus, corporate, school district, etc.).

I am not going to try and address the individual points raised by Rory and
Mark, because I feel that Luis has said many of the things I'd like to say,
although much better than I could verbalize. I agree with the comments he
has made. Most of the other people on this small distribution list will be
active in the continuing better salaries efforts through APA; I'm sure they
will carry forward many of these concerns, but if you choose to publish the
earlier statements in Library Juice or Moneytalks, they would probably
generate more viewpoints. Thanks for adding to the overall dialog on salary

3. ALA-APA Director Named

[moneytalks] ALA-APA director named
Date: Wed, 26 Nov 2003 15:22:29 -0600
From: "Marci Merola" <mmerola[at]>
To: <moneytalks[at]>
Reply to: moneytalks[at]

For Immediate Release
November 24, 2003

Contact: Mary Ghikas
ALA Senior AED


ALA-APA director named

The American Library Association (ALA) is pleased to announce the
appointment of Jenifer Grady as Director, American Library
Association-Allied Professional Association (ALA-APA), effective
December 22, 2003. She will meet with the ALA-APA Salaries and Status
Committee and other ALA members at the upcoming Midwinter Meeting in San
Diego. Grady has an M.S.L.S. (1993) from the University of North
Carolina-Chapel Hill and an M.B.A. (2003) from Case Western Reserve

"I expect Jenifer will be exactly the kind of fighter we need to
improve the salary and status of library workers," said Maurice J.
(Mitch) Freedman, ALA Immediate Past President and chair, ALA-APA
Salaries and Status Committee. "The committee was impressed with her
energy, enthusiasm and the depth of commitment she has applied to every
aspect of her professional and volunteer work."

Grady comes to the ALA-APA from a position with Battelle Memorial
Institute, where she has been a client services specialist on the
Garrett Morgan Commercialization Initiative in Cleveland, evaluating the
readiness of women-owned and minority-owned firms to transfer and
commercialize NASA technology, developing marketing plans and assisting
in the development of grant proposals for clients.

Previously she was knowledge management librarian and informatics
apprentice at the Eskind Biomedical Library, Vanderbilt University;
assistant director for informatics at the Library, Meharry Medical
College; information specialist at the Academy for Educational
Development; and outreach coordinator at the New York Academy of
Medicine, National Network of Libraries of Medicine. She also was an
associate (one-year fellowship) at the National Library of Medicine.

Grady co-authored "Print versus Electronic Journals: a Preliminary
Investigation into the Effect of Journal Format on Research Processes"
in the Journal of the Medical Library Association, April 2002. She also
wrote "Get 'Em While They're Hot," an article about researching
African American history through cookbooks, for North Carolina
Libraries, Winter 1992.

While earning her M.B.A., Grady directed the Tax Assistance Program for
Low-Income Workers. She also was president of the Black MBA Student
Association. She is a member of the American Marketing Association and
the American Medical Informatics Association and on two committees of
the Cleveland chapter of the National Black MBA Association. She has
participated in many volunteer activities, including MedWish, the AIDS
Task Force of Greater Cleveland Speakers Bureau, Habitat for Humanity
and others.

The ALA-APA Director Search Committee members were: Freedman, search
committee chair; Diane Fay, president of Library Support Staff Interests
Round Table (LSSIRT) and a member of the ALA-APA Salaries and Status
Committee; Keith Michael Fiels, ALA and ALA-APA executive director; Mary
Ghikas, ALA senior associate executive director; Lorraine Olley,
executive director of the Library Administration and Management (LAMA);
Dorothy Ragsdale, director, ALA Human Resources; and Lorelle Swader,
director of ALA's Human Resource Development and Recruitment (HRDR)

The ALA-APA is a nonprofit professional organization established in
2001 "to promote the mutual professional interests of librarians and
other library workers." Its two broad focus areas are: certification
of individuals in specializations beyond the initial professional degree
and direct support of comparable worth and pay equity initiatives and
other activities designed to improve the salaries and status of
librarians and other library workers. The ALA-APA is a companion
organization to the ALA. To learn more, please visit
LAMA is a division of the ALA.


Marci Merola, PR Specialist-Advocacy
Public Information Office, American Library Association
50 E. Huron St., Chicago, IL 60611
312/280-2431 or 800/545-2433 x 2431; Fax: 312/944-8520


ISSN 1544-9378

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