LJ's Placements and Salaries Survey 2020

Library Journal’s annual Placements & Salaries survey reports on the experiences of LIS students who graduated and sought their first librarian jobs in the previous year: in this case, 2019. Salaries and full-time employment are up, but so are unemployment and the gender gap; 2019 graduates faced a mixed job market even before the pandemic.

Salaries and full-time employment are up, but so are unemployment and the gender gap; 2019 graduates faced a mixed job market even before the pandemic.

Library Journal’s annual Placements & Salaries survey reports on the experiences of LIS students who graduated and sought their first librarian jobs in the previous year: in this case, 2019. As such, we began to collect data in March 2020, just as COVID-19 was beginning to gain speed in the United States. Naturally, addressing the professional and personal upheaval resulting from the coronavirus took priority over responding, which likely resulted in somewhat lower participation in this survey than usual by both schools and graduates. Some may not even have seen the invitation in the rush to go remote. We would like to take a moment to express our support to all the members of our professional community as they continue to adapt to these challenging times, and to send our appreciation to those whose circumstances allowed them to participate in this year’s survey.

The experience of these 2019 graduates will be very different from next year’s respondents, the LIS class of 2020, whose members are graduating into an ongoing pandemic. Nonetheless, trends evident from the experience of 2019 graduates bear watching, and they both hold promise and suggest concerns.

Highlights include:

  • Salary levels and the prevalence of full-time appointments continue to improve.
  • However, unemployment levels for new graduates are also growing.
  • Gender salary disparity is no longer narrowing; substantial disparities were evident in this year’s results.
  • The trend towards more graduates working in LIS institutions seems to be reversing, with the proportion of graduates working outside LIS nearly tripling.
  • Continuing the trend begun last year, graduates noted that user experience/usability analysis is one of their top two primary job duties.
  • Unsurprisingly, LIS schools expect that 2020 graduates will face a challenging job search because of changes driven by COVID-19.

 

 

TABLE 1: STATUS OF 2019 GRADUATES

School Region Number of Schools Reporting Number of Graduates Responding Employed in LIS field Employed outside of LIS Currently Unemployed or Continuing Education Total Answering % employed full-time
Midwest 11 396 217 157 20 394 88%
Northeast 8 224 167 36 21 224 83%
South Central 7 169 134 19 16 169 86%
Southeast 5 172 112 31 29 172 93%
West (Pacific/Mountain) 5 145 129 10 6 145 78%
TOTAL 36  1,106 759 253 92 1,104 86%

Table based on survey responses from schools and individual graduates. Figures will not necessarily be fully consistent with some of the other data reported. Tables do not always add up, individually or collectively, since both schools and individuals omitted data in some cases.


Thirty-six of the 52 U.S.-based American Library Association (ALA) accredited schools participated in this survey for the 2019 calendar year. These schools reported awarding degrees to 4,263 graduates. Five fewer schools (about 12 percent fewer) participated this year, which likely accounts for the 10.5 percent decline in total graduates when compared to 2018. Nearly 26 percent of 2019 graduates shared the outcomes and experiences of their job searches by completing the questionnaire. This response rate is down three percent from 2018.

As in prior years, most respondents describe themselves as female (77 percent). The proportion of male graduates was similar to last year (19 percent in 2019 and 20 percent in 2018). As we did last year, we offered more gender options represented about 3.4 percent of graduates responding to the survey, which was somewhat higher than last year (2.8 percent). These proportions are similar to those reported by the schools for their total number of graduates, although more people self-identified as the additional gender options than were reported by the schools. Because the nonbinary sample is too small to yield statistically significant results when compared to placements and salaries of other genders, gender comparisons shown in the tables are male to female only.

The 2019 graduates’ self-identification of race/ethnicity presents a different profile than last year. There is greater white/non-Hispanic representation (81 percent versus 76 percent in 2018) and a very reduced representation of Asian/Pacific Islanders (3 percent in 2019 and 9 percent in 2018). There was a similar representation of Hispanic/Latinx (5 percent), Black/African American (4 percent), and biracial/multiracial respondents (4 percent). Similar to last year, less than 2 percent identified as Native Alaskan/American Indian/First Nation or another race.

The age distribution also had many similarities to last year, with over half of respondents indicating they were between 26 and 35 years old (58 percent), yielding an average age of 34. Continuing what we’ve seen in previous years, most graduates were 35 or under (69 percent), while 13 percent were over 45. Continuing a trend noted last year, there was a slight decline in the percentage of graduates who said that they were pursuing their first career (53 percent).

 

 

TABLE 2: PLACEMENTS & FULL-TIME SALARIES OF 2019 GRADUATES BY REGION

Placement Region Number of Placements NO. RESPONDING LOW SALARY HIGH SALARY AVERAGE SALARY DIF IN AVG M/F SALARY† MEDIAN SALARY
Women Men Nonbinary* All Women  Men Nonbinary* Women Men Nonbinary* Women Men Nonbinary* All Women  Men Nonbinary* All
Midwest  257 169 41 4 214  22,000 34,749 36,000 97,500 160,000 55,000 49,742  75,356 42,473 53,866 51.5% 48,454 72,000 36,420 50,000
Northeast  195 129 25 7 161  26,000 35,000 41,000 165,000 112,500 54,250 59,802  62,505 50,292 59,759 4.5% 56,000 58,000 51,500 55,000
Southeast  173 80 17 7 104  25,700 28,000 42,000 105,000 70,926 62,500 51,216  48,403 50,300 50,672 -5.5% 51,187 50,000 52,000 50,687
Pacific  155 92 28 6 126  32,000 53,000 31,500 137,500 200,000 137,500 79,379  103,158 87,625 85,016 30.0% 68,000 107,500 90,750 70,500
South Central  112 87 12 1 100  23,500 25,000 40,500 110,000 92,500 40,500 48,883  58,822 40,500 50,050 20.3% 46,000 55,108 40,500 46,951
Mountain 53 29 8 1 38  18,000 25,000 36,000 90,000 82,500 36,000 50,026  48,938 36,000 49,293 -2.2% 48,500 48,500 36,000 47,000
Canada/Int'l 12 8 3   11  23,000 50,000  -  83,700 85,644  -  46,567  67,822  -  55,069 45.6% 33,000 67,822 - 50,000
TOTAL  957 594 134 26 754  18,000    25,000 31,500 165,000 200,000 137,500 56,357  70,132 55,384 58,703 24.4% 52,000 60,850 51,000 53,000

This table represents only salaries reported as full-time. Some data were reported as aggregate without breakdown by gender or region. Comparison with other tables may show different number of placements.

*Includes nonbinary, other, and declined to answer gender.

†The nonbinary sample is too small to yield statistically significant results when compared to placements and salaries of other genders. Therefore, all gender comparisons shown are male to female only. 

FULL-TIME IS UP, BUT SO IS UNEMPLOYMENT

Many indicators, such as salary levels and full-time appointments, are moving in a positive direction for the class of 2019, however there are also areas for concern, such as unemployment levels and increasing gender salary disparity.

For the seventh year in a row, there is an increase in the average full-time starting salary, with this year’s average of $58,655 being a 5.9 percent increase over 2018. Another positive trend we have been following for six years continued with graduates reporting high levels of full-time employment (86 percent, up from 80 percent last year) and permanent positions (94 percent, up from 91 percent last year).

However, the increase in the percentage of full time positions may be caused by a decrease in part-time positions available, because the percentage of graduates who reported being unemployed doubled from last year to 8 percent (also higher than the 6 percent we saw in 2017). Among those who are unemployed, the majority (79 percent) say they are currently seeking employment in the LIS field. Others are a student in another program (18 percent), taking time off for personal reasons (4 percent), and interning (2 percent). About one percent reported being furloughed. We cannot determine how COVID-19 affected the employment status of 2019 graduates, but we do know that many institutions were instituting hiring freezes and contemplating furloughs during this period.

Similar to last year, 14 percent of 2019 graduates report being employed part-time, however the nature of part-time employment is different than last year, with a substantially higher percentage of people reporting having only one position (65 percent versus 54 percent in 2019), and fewer holding two jobs (28 percent in 2019 versus 36 percent in 2018), for an average of 1.4 positions.

One striking change is where 2019 graduates are employed. Last year, about nine out of ten graduates reported being employed in the LIS field. In 2019, this has decreased to about seven out of ten graduates (69 percent). Accompanying this trend is a rapid increase in graduates saying they are employed outside the LIS field (23 percent in 2019 and 9 percent in 2018).

Of those working in LIS-related positions, more than half (57 percent) report being employed in a LIS organization of some type, a sharp decline from last year. Some 12 percent say they are working in a LIS capacity but in some other type of organization, which is similar to last year.

In a decline from last year, less than half of employed 2019 graduates who are working said they work in either a public library (28 percent) or an academic library (19 percent). Those working in private industry (17 percent) grew by about 50 percent over last year, while those at K-12 schools decreased slightly (to 9 percent). Other graduates report working in other academic units at a college or university (5 percent), a government library (4 percent), non-profit non-library institution (3 percent), archives/special collections (3 percent), special library (3 percent), or other governmental agency (3 percent).

The majority of graduates express satisfaction with their current placement (72 percent). Continuing the pattern we saw last year, graduates working in non-library settings expressed higher satisfaction (80 percent) than those in a LIS institution (76 percent), although the difference between these two levels is not as great as last year. This year, graduates who work outside the LIS field were less likely to report being satisfied than last year (42 percent versus 53 percent).

 

TABLE 3:  FULL-TIME SALARIES BY TYPE OF ORGANIZATION AND GENDER
  TOTAL PLACEMENTS LOW SALARY HIGH SALARY AVERAGE SALARY MEDIAN SALARY
  Women Men Nonbinary* All Women Men Nonbinary* Women  Men Nonbinary* Women Men Nonbinary* All Women Men Nonbinary* All
PUBLIC LIBRARIES 120 18 5 144  23,500  35,000  36,000  75,000  73,500 54,250  47,893  52,935 43,134  48,491  47,404  52,000  36,420 48,416
COLLEGE/UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES 125 25 7 157  23,000  25,000 40,500  83,700 107,500 62,500  52,497  56,770 52,214  53,165  53,500  56,403  52,000 53,500
SCHOOL LIBRARIES 50 6 2 58  18,000  46,000  31,500 106,000 100,000 38,000  57,902  71,536 34,750  58,514  53,750  66,608  34,750 53,750
GOVERNMENT LIBRARIES 19 6 1 26  32,042  39,000  42,000  75,000  70,926 42,000  52,437  58,618 42,000  53,462  52,000  61,890  42,000 55,250
PRIVATE INDUSTRY 56 33 4 93  30,000  40,000  43,000 165,000 200,000 137,500  89,994  99,988 89,500  93,519  88,750  92,500  88,750 90,000
SPECIAL LIBRARIES 17 1 - 18  37,000  57,500  -   71,000  57,500  -   51,403  57,500  -   51,742  52,000  57,500  -  53,000
ARCHIVES/SPECIAL COLLECTIONS 14 5 - 19  35,000  34,749  -   72,000  60,700  -   48,247  48,690  -   48,363  47,396  50,000  -  48,792
NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS 11 2 1 14  36,000  50,000  41,000  97,500  70,000 41,000  60,000  60,000 41,000  58,643  57,500  60,000  41,000 53,750
OTHER ORGANIZATIONS 37 6 - 43  29,000  25,000  -  125,000  85,644  -   54,044  46,357  -   52,971  48,650  39,500  -  45,000
                                     
This table represents only full-time salaries and all placements reported by type. Some individuals omitted placement information, rendering some information unusable.
*Includes nonbinary, other, and declined to answer gender.

DON’T QUIT YOUR DAY JOB?

Similar to last year, a substantial number of graduates (47 percent) are pursuing a second career, and nearly one in five graduates had never worked in a library before entering their LIS program.

Nonetheless, more than half the graduates (59 percent) remained with an employer or position they held prior to joining their masters program or while attending their masters program. This was particularly true for graduates working outside the LIS field. For some of these graduates, earning the masters degree while staying in an existing employment situation resulted in a raise (26 percent), a promotion (21 percent), or moving to professional staff (14 percent).

We also asked graduates if they were interested in pursuing another advanced degree in the future since a second degree can influence career trajectory. A small group were definitely planning to pursue an additional degree (7 percent) and 24 percent said they were probably pursuing this. More than two-thirds said another advanced degree was not a part of their future plans.

 

 

TABLE 4: AVERAGE SALARY FOR STARTING LIBRARY POSITIONS, 2011-2019
YEAR # Library Schools Represented Avg. Full Time Starting Salary Difference in Avg. Salary Percentage Change
2011 41 $44,565 $2,009 4.72%
2012 41 $44,503 ($62) -0.14%
2013 40 $45,650 $1,147 2.58%
2014 39 $46,987 $1,337 2.93%
2015 39 $48,371 $1,384 2.95%
2016 40 $51,798 $3,427 7.08%
2017 41 $52,152 $354 0.68%
2018 41 $55,357 $3,205 6.15%
2019 36 $58,655 $3,298 5.96%

SALARIES RISING, UNEVENLY

2019 graduates who are working full-time have average annual earnings of $58,655, a 5.9 percent increase over last year. The median is $53,000. The average hourly rate is similar to last year at $19.87, which translates into an annual full-time salary of more than $41,000, the same as last year.

The news on gender salary disparities is not encouraging, as substantial disparities were evident in this year’s results, reversing the trend towards a narrowing salary gap that had emerged in 2017. In 2019, male graduates employed full-time reported an overall average salary of $70,132, versus the average of $56,357 for female graduates, representing a differential of more than 24 percent. The overall gender differential has markedly increased from 2018 (10 percent), 2017 (12 percent), and 2016 (about 18 percent). This disparity is not just the result of one very high-paying position for a male graduate, since the differential is evident at high levels in the Midwest (51 percent), Canada/International (46 percent), Pacific (30 percent), and South Central (20 percent) regions.

 

 

TABLE 5: PLACEMENTS BY FULL-TIME SALARY OF REPORTING 2019 GRADUATES
  AVERAGE SALARY MEDIAN SALARY LOW SALARY HIGH SALARY PLACEMENTS Total Placements
Schools Women Men Nonbinary** All Women Men Nonbinary** Women Men Nonbinary** Women Men Nonbinary** Women Men Nonbinary**
Alabama  48,020 43,000  -  46,138 44,100 44,000  -  36,000 39,000  -  72,000 46,000  -  5 3 - 8
Albany  46,430  -   -  46,430 48,000  -   -  42,640  -   -  48,650  -   -  3 - - 3
Arizona  37,074 34,000  -  36,306 35,000 34,000  -  30,000 34,000  -  46,223 34,000  -  3 1 - 4
Buffalo  52,500 45,500  -  49,000 55,000 46,500  -  40,000 35,000  -  60,000 54,000  -  4 4 - 8
Catholic*  54,803 65,805  -  56,098 55,000 65,805  -  35,085 59,510  -  75,000 72,100  -  15 2 - 17
Emporia State  49,786 40,000  -  49,133 45,000 40,000  -  28,000 40,000  -  110,000 40,000  -  14 1 - 15
Hawaii Manoa  57,984 50,000  -  56,387 54,468 50,000  -  40,000 50,000  -  83,000 50,000  -  4 1 - 5
Illinois Urbana-Champaign  47,507 68,000 53,500 49,744 48,200 68,000 53,500 29,000 65,000 53,500 57,910 71,000 53,500 18 2 1 21
Indiana Purdue  48,406 34,749  -  44,504 49,000 34,749  -  32,781 34,749  -  58,000 34,749  -  5 2 - 7
Iowa  54,000 52,134  -  53,067 52,000 56,403  -  52,000 28,000  -  58,000 72,000  -  3 3 - 6
Kent State*  38,387 42,308  -  38,714 33,280 42,308  -  22,000 42,308  -  68,000 42,308  -  11 1 - 12
Kentucky  43,101 107,667 36,420 54,102 45,309 73,000 36,420 18,000 50,000 36,420 68,000 200,000 36,420 13 3 1 17
Long Island  61,266  -  51,500 58,010 61,500  -  51,500 45,000  -  50,000 77,062  -  53,000 4 - 2 6
Maryland  50,528 50,325  -  50,477 52,250 50,800  -  40,000 39,000  -  62,000 60,700  -  12 4 - 16
Michigan*  85,121 97,516 132,500 89,960 82,500 92,500 132,500 37,000 55,000 127,500 165,000 160,000 137,500 66 31 2 99
Missouri  51,667  -   -  51,667 51,000  -   -  50,000  -   -  54,000  -   -  3 - - 3
North Texas  45,936 48,843 40,500 46,273 49,000 49,000 40,500 23,000 25,000 40,500 65,000 70,000 40,500 21 5 1 27
Oklahoma  43,750  -   -  43,750 43,750  -   -  42,000  -   -  45,500  -   -  2 - - 2
Pratt  59,333 57,500  -  58,875 58,000 57,500  -  54,000 57,500  -  66,000 57,500  -  3 1 - 4
Rutgers  60,085 70,711 54,250 61,774 52,500 70,000 54,250 26,000 40,000 54,250 125,000 100,000 54,250 22 5 1 28
San Jose*  58,376 49,917 45,833 56,430 56,000 55,500 52,000 32,000 25,000 31,500 95,000 70,000 54,000 31 6 3 41
Simmons  58,138 60,324 47,167 57,879 55,000 60,000 41,000 31,000 52,000 38,000 132,000 69,000 62,500 58 7 3 68
South Florida  39,315  -   -  39,315 41,204  -   -  35,000  -   -  41,741  -   -  3 - - 3
Southern California  62,586 70,000  -  63,328 64,000 70,000  -  56,000 70,000  -  67,500 70,000  -  9 1 - 10
Southern Mississippi  45,405 49,890  -  45,932 45,500 49,890  -  30,000 40,000  -  65,000 59,779  -  15 2 - 17
St. Catherine  47,200  -  36,000 45,333 49,000  -  36,000 40,000  -  36,000 52,000  -  36,000 5 - 1 6
St. John's  46,597 61,667 42,000 52,399 51,500 53,000 42,000 32,292 52,000 42,000 56,000 80,000 42,000 3 3 1 7
Syracuse  47,934  -  43,000 47,112 49,000  -  43,000 36,672  -  43,000 59,000  -  43,000 5 - 1 6
Tennessee  48,685  -   -  48,685 50,000  -   -  35,000  -   -  74,000  -   -  9 - - 9
Texas Women's  53,993 85,644  -  55,432 58,500 85,644  -  24,100 85,644  -  83,700 85,644  -  21 1 - 22
Valdosta  42,972 44,500  -  43,250 40,000 44,500  -  25,700 35,000  -  63,000 54,000  -  9 2 - 11
Washington  50,087 61,000  -  50,996 50,000 61,000  -  42,000 61,000  -  65,000 61,000  -  11 1 - 12
Wayne State  45,122 63,000 51,000 46,882 45,000 63,000 51,000 25,000 54,000 50,000 71,000 72,000 52,000 23 2 2 27
Wisconsin Madison  46,334 81,107 55,000 54,110 45,500 72,213 55,000 34,000 40,000 55,000 56,813 140,000 55,000 14 4 1 19
Wisconsin Milwaukee  50,804 46,000 36,000 48,717 52,000 45,000 36,000 35,000 43,000 36,000 70,000 50,000 36,000 10 3 1 14
TOTAL  56,309 70,040 54,556 58,655 52,000 61,000 50,000 18,000 25,000 31,500 165,000 200,000 137,500 457 101 21 580

This table represents placements and salaries reported as full-time. Some individuals or schools omitted  information, rendering information unusable.

*Some schools conducted their own survey and provided raw data. 

**Includes nonbinary, unsure, and declined to answer gender.

WORK SETTING VS. SKILLSETS

The 2019 graduates described their work and setting very differently than what we heard in the first two years this question was asked. In both 2017 and 2018, more than two-thirds called themselves librarians working in a library, while this year, only 59 percent said they were a librarian working in a library. Similar to previous years, 4 percent said they were a librarian who wasn’t working in a library. The difference was made up by similar level of self-described “non-librarian” graduates working in a library (18 percent) or outside of one (19 percent).

Each year we ask graduates to review an array of duties in LIS, and name which is the primary duty for their job. In 2019, we see some changes from 2018, which mirrored what we saw in 2017. The top of the list continued to be reference and information services (9 percent) and the 2018 newcomer user experience/usability analysis (7 percent) returned in second place. However, there were some notable changes in the remaining top five; children’s services (7 percent) moved up to third, archival and preservation (7 percent) moved into fourth, and administration and adult services (both just over 6 percent) tied for fifth position. While administration had been in the fifth spot in 2018, adult services was not this high on the list. In addition, school librarian/school library media specialist (just under 6 percent) dropped from third to seventh. Among graduates who identified their work as outside the LIS field, top duties were user experience/usability analysis (37 percent), data analytics (14 percent), and administration (12 percent).

Graduates were also asked to indicate all the duties that were part of their jobs, and half identified reference/information services as one of their assignments. Other frequently mentioned assignments were collection development/acquisitions (40 percent), outreach (33 percent), patron programming (32 percent), public services (31 percent), and circulation and reader’s advisory (both 30 percent). Among those employed outside the LIS field, assignments seem to be more focused, since fewer items are identified by each respondent. The top assignment is administration (23 percent), followed by data analytics (18 percent), budgeting/financing (16 percent), information technology (14 percent), outreach and records management (both 13 percent), and data curation/management and communications, PR and social media (both 12 percent). Only 10 percent of graduates feel their job is in an emerging area of LIS practice, which is lower than last year (16 percent).

 

TABLE 6: FULL-TIME SALARIES OF REPORTING PROFESSIONALS BY PRIMARY JOB ASSIGNMENT
Primary Job Assignment No. Rec'd % of Total Low Salary High Salary Average Salary Median Salary
Reference/Information Services 48 9%  32,042  70,000 51,385 51,000
Administration 41 8%  30,000 110,000 53,302 51,000
School librarian/School Library Media Specialist 40 8%  18,000 106,000 56,689 53,750
Children's services 36 7%  25,000  74,000 46,151 46,625
User experience/Usability analysis 35 7%  52,500 137,500 99,560 97,500
Archival and preservation 31 6%  25,000  72,000 49,078 50,000
Adult services 27 5%  30,000  70,000 48,471 47,923
Metadata, Cataloging & Taxonomy 25 5%  39,000  85,200 55,583 55,000
YA/Teen services 20 4%  30,000  61,000 46,367 47,954
Teacher librarian 15 3%  23,000  91,000 52,816 52,000
Training, Teaching & Instruction 15 3%  38,500  83,700 57,507 62,000
Access Services 13 3%  25,000  59,532 45,246 50,000
Data analytics 13 3%  45,000  90,000 67,185 69,000
Collection development/Acquisitions 12 2%  37,000  59,534 49,003 50,000
Circulation 11 2%  26,000  70,000 45,092 42,000
Technical services 11 2%  22,000  59,779 39,151 38,000
Digital content management 10 2%  28,000  73,000 48,816 48,750
Solo librarian 10 2%  38,000  64,270 45,999 44,500
Outreach 9 2%  29,000  65,000 49,450 50,000
Patron programming 6 1%  26,000  58,000 45,167 49,500
Public services 6 1%  28,000  85,644 51,795 48,562
Records management 6 1%  34,000  60,500 46,358 46,325
Emerging technologies 4 1%  52,500  60,000 55,875 55,500
Information technology 4 1%  48,000  74,000 63,500 66,000
Market intelligence/Business research 4 1%  57,000 200,000 110,250 92,000
Website design 4 1%  60,000  82,500 70,125 69,000
Data curation & management 3 1%  37,500  70,000 52,833 51,000
Government documents 3 1%  42,000  75,000 55,667 50,000
Knowledge management 3 1%  41,755  61,000 50,918 50,000
Rights & Permissions 3 1%  25,000  68,000 45,787 44,360
Systems Technology 3 1%  53,000  60,000 56,000 55,000
Budgeting/finance 2 0%  42,000  56,000 49,000 49,000
Assessment 1 0%  52,000  52,000 52,000 52,000
Communications, PR, and social media 1 0%  55,000  55,000 55,000 55,000
Other 38 7%  30,000 132,000 54,199 49,000
TOTAL ANSWERING 515 100% 18,000 200,000 55,233 52,000
This table represents full-time placements  reported by primary job assignment.

Some individuals omitted placement information,therefore comparison with other tables may show different numbers of placements and average and median salaries.

WHERE THEY COME FROM

Prior work experiences or education may affect graduates’ educational experiences and their professional placement after graduation. In prior years we asked whether they had worked in a library prior to starting their program. This year we changed the question to better understand a graduate’s library work experience, so we asked if they had worked in a library prior to beginning their masters program (14 percent), while completing their masters work (29 percent), or both (39 percent). Nearly 80 percent of graduates had some library experience before they began their job search. While the change in the question means results are not directly comparable to prior years, the results do appear consistent, since the percentage of graduates who didn’t work in a library or who did so while completing the program is about 46 percent, compared to about half last year.

What we learned by asking this question in a new way is that graduates who worked in the library during their degree program seem to benefit, since they also account for the largest portion of full-time placements after graduation. Another indication that gaining library work experience may be beneficial for attaining a placement after graduation is that among unemployed graduates, more than a third had no library work experience. However, library work experience does not appear as important among those who gained placements outside the LIS field, since more than half of these graduates did not work in a library before or during their graduate studies.

This year, about a quarter of the graduates held an advanced degree before they started their LIS masters program, which is similar to 2017 but below the uptick we saw last year. The7 percent dual-enrolled in another graduate or certificate program—such as a JD, PhD, or second masters—while they were working on their LIS degree exhibited a similar pattern, closely matching 2017.

 

TABLE 7: Did you work in a library before entering or while completing your Master's program?

  Currently Employed
  In Library Science Inst Doing library work outside a library Outside of LIS field Unemployed
Before entering masters program 13.1% 18.6% 12.0% 17.4%
While completing masters program 28.6% 30.4% 23.9% 31.9%
Both 48.1% 27.5% 10.9% 13.0%
Neither 10.1% 23.5% 53.3% 37.7%

LIS PROGRAM EXPERIENCES

Graduates earned their degrees through many different delivery options. Online programs continue to be highly utilized. More than half (55 percent) completed their degree via fully online instruction, which was somewhat less than last year (59 percent), but still substantially higher than 2017’s 49 percent. More than a third (35 percent) of graduates learned through a mix of online and on-site courses. Fully on-site instruction accounted for about 10 percent of graduates’ experience.

Graduates shared the LISmasters program experiences or activities that they found most helpful when seeking job placement. The top four were unchanged from last year; gaining internship/practicum/field experience (57 percent), and technology skills (e.g., database searching, HTML coding, or other Internet-oriented skills) (48 percent) accounted for the top two positions. The next two experiences were both identified by 41 percent of graduates as being the most helpful or important; subject specialization knowledge (such as cataloging or reference) and networking with professionals working in their area of interest.

Graduates were asked whether they had participated in internships during their time as a LIS student. Most (60 percent) reported participating in one or more internships as an LIS student. Nearly a quarter completed two or more internships.

We also asked what the programs required beyond coursework. Creating an e-portfolio (47 percent) and completing an internship (37 percent) were the most common; completing a formal project (20 percent) and taking a comprehensive exam (16 percent) were also mentioned.

 

TABLE 8: 2019 TOTAL GRADUATES AND PLACEMENTS BY SCHOOL*

  GRADUATES EMPLOYED FULL TIME RESPONSE RATE
Schools Women Men Other/Unsure All Women Men Nonbinary** All # Rec'd Rate
Alabama 75 16   91 7 3   10 12 13.2%
Albany 15 4   19 3     3 5 26.3%
Arizona 56 13   69 5 1   6 12 17.4%
Buffalo 79 11   90 4 5   9 10 11.1%
Catholic* 32 3   35 20 2   22 25 71.4%
Emporia State 116 20   136 20 1   21 29 21.3%
Hawaii Manoa 12 3   15 4 1   5 6 40.0%
Illinois Urbana-Champaign 184 60   244 19 4 1 24 29 11.9%
Indiana Purdue 74 18   92 6 2   8 11 12.0%
Iowa 25 7   32 5 4   9 12 37.5%
Kent State* 168 40   208 13 2   15 21 10.1%
Kentucky 61 12   73 18 3 1 22 23 31.5%
Long Island 81 17   98 6   2 8 11 11.2%
Maryland 65 13   78 16 4 1 21 29 37.2%
Michigan* 124 66 4 194 99 46 2 147 157 80.9%
Missouri 49 8   57 5     5 7 12.3%
NC Chapel Hill* 78 25   103         95 92.2%
North Texas 273 57   330 24 7 1 32 43 13.0%
Oklahoma 48 9   57 6 1   7 8 14.0%
Pratt 34 12   46 5 1   6 8 17.4%
Rutgers 107 52   159 30 6 1 37 49 30.8%
San Jose* 426 89   515 50 10 4 70 86 16.7%
Simmons 247 45 3 295 71 9 4 84 112 38.0%
South Florida 65 14   79 4   1 5 8 10.1%
Southern California 41 4   45 10 1   11 19 42.2%
Southern Mississippi 44 6   50 21 3   24 27 54.0%
St. Catherine 37 3 1 41 6 1 1 8 14 34.1%
St. John's 21 8   29 6 3 1 10 11 37.9%
Syracuse 35 6   41 10   1 11 18 43.9%
Tennessee 63 20   83 9 1   10 20 24.1%
Texas Women's 173 11   184 25 2   27 36 19.6%
Valdosta State 65 16   81 12 2   14 15 18.5%
Washington 101 24 3 128 15 1   16 22 17.2%
Wayne State 108 22   130 32 3 3 38 56 43.1%
Wisconsin Madison 71 11   82 19 6 1 26 32 39.0%
Wisconsin Milwaukee 127 95 32 254 15 7 2 24 28 11.0%
TOTAL  3,380 840 43  4,263 620 142 27 795  1,106 25.9%

Tables do not always add up, individually or collectively, due to omitted data from schools and/or individuals.

*Some schools conducted their own survey and provided raw data. Comparison with other tables may show different numbers of placements.

**Includes nonbinary, other and declined to answer gender.

SOFT SKILLS

This was the second year that graduates were asked about their access to and evaluation of soft skills training through their LIS graduate programs. Soft skills help a person interact more effectively with other people, augmenting hard skills such as disciplinary knowledge and learned skills directly related to accomplishing work duties. Employees with soft skills are often more successful in the workplace. The survey focused on six soft skills: conflict resolution, cultural competency, customer service, design thinking, ethics, and leadership.

Similar to last year, graduates noted that their LIS programs provided opportunities to learn about five of these soft skills, and levels were higher across the board: ethics (96 percent), cultural competency (83 percent), leadership (82 percent), customer service (80 percent), and design thinking (75 percent). Customer services saw the greatest increase in availability. Opportunities to learn about conflict resolution were less common than last year, dropping from nearly half to only 44 percent.

Graduates who had access to learning about each soft skill tended to rate these skills as useful at similar levels to last year: ethics (86 percent), cultural competency (76 percent), and leadership (75 percent). There was less—but still a reasonable level of—enthusiasm for customer service (67 percent) and design thinking (62 percent). There was much less enthusiasm for what they learned about conflict resolution which, at 38 percent, was even lower than last year.

 

FINDING AND STARTING THE JOB

Graduates who did not return to a previous employer or a position they previously held were asked about their job search approach and experiences. On average, graduates began their job search about 5.5 months before graduation. Mirroring last year, 30 percent of job searches were initiated four to six months before graduation. Searches began one to three months before program completion for 23 percent. Similar to 2018, 13 percent began the search a year or more before graduation. Only 13 percent waited to graduate before beginning their search.

Forty-six percent of job-seekers secured their new professional position before they graduated. For those who didn’t find their position before graduation, there was an average of 4.2 months past graduation before placement. Just under a third of these job seekers took six months or more to find a job. These measures exhibit a slight trend, suggesting that job-seekers found jobs more quickly than they did last year.

Among all graduates employed full-time (whether with a previous or new employer) only 26 percent relocated to take their position.

Each graduate was asked to list up to three resources they found helpful during job-seeking. The responses represented general employment sites (i.e. Indeed, Linked In), trusted partners (ALA job list), and other organizations’ resources including professional associations (i.e. SAA), local, state and federal (i.e. USAjobs.gov) government job websites, university job sites and listservs, and HigherEdJobs.com.

The top five resources were Indeed.com (31 percent), ALA JobList (25 percent), campus job boards/online discussion lists (19 percent), LinkedIn (17 percent) and city/state/regional websites (12 percent). The next five resources were association job boards (11 percent), Archive Gig (10 percent), institution/employer websites (8 percent), HigherEd Jobs (8 percent) and, tied for 10th place, networking/networking events and word of mouth.

This rank order was very similar for those who were employed in a library science institution. Indeed and LinkedIn were much more important resources for those who were employed outside the LIS field and somewhat more important for those doing library work outside of a library.

 

TABLE 9: COMPARISON OF FULL-TIME SALARIES BY TYPE OF ORGANIZATION AND PLACEMENT REGION
  TOTAL PLACEMENTS  LOW SALARY   HIGH SALARY   AVERAGE SALARY   MEDIAN SALARY 
PUBLIC LIBRARIES          
Northeast 37 26,000 70,000  49,430 51,000
Southeast 18 25,700 60,000  43,296 43,025
South Central 17 23,500 72,000  43,404 42,000
Midwest 44 25,000 73,500  47,182 46,500
Mountain 12 36,000 75,000  50,925 50,000
Pacific 13 46,000 74,000  60,880 60,000
Canada/Int'l -  -   -   -   - 
ALL PUBLIC 141 23,500 75,000  48,402 47,923
           
COLLEGE/UNIVERSITY          
Northeast 40 32,292 80,000  58,470 58,300
Southeast 32 32,000 71,000  49,668 51,800
South Central 18 24,100 60,000  39,909 40,000
Midwest 40 28,000 107,500  54,421 55,000
Mountain 8 34,000 65,000  48,625 48,500
Pacific 14 32,000 70,000  58,734 60,000
Canada/Int'l 2 23,000 83,700  53,350 53,350
ALL ACADEMIC 154 23,000 107,500  52,866 53,250
           
SCHOOL LIBRARIES          
Northeast 16 45,000 106,000  71,987 67,500
Southeast 3 49,826 59,000  54,109 53,500
South Central 23 36,000 73,000  54,854 58,000
Midwest 6 45,000 62,477  50,246 48,500
Mountain 3 18,000 46,223  36,691 45,850
Pacific 4 31,500 95,000  64,875 66,500
Canada/Int'l 1 50,000 50,000  50,000 50,000
ALL SCHOOL 56 18,000 106,000  58,872 53,750
           
GOVERNMENT LIBRARIES          
Northeast 2 64,270 69,000  66,635 66,635
Southeast 18 35,085 75,000  55,237 58,455
South Central 2 32,042 38,900  35,471 35,471
Midwest 2 46,500 52,000  49,250 49,250
Mountain 1 40,040 40,040  40,040 40,040
Pacific 1 53,000 53,000  53,000 53,000
Canada/Int'l -  -   -   -   - 
ALL GOVERNMENT 26 32,042 75,000  53,462 55,250
           
PRIVATE INDUSTRY          
Northeast 14 31,000 165,000  75,500 61,500
Southeast 3 43,000 92,500  71,000 77,500
South Central 9 30,000 110,000  75,667 82,500
Midwest 26 42,640 160,000  80,005 80,000
Mountain 2 82,500 90,000  86,250 86,250
Pacific 38 42,000 200,000  116,355 115,000
Canada/Int'l -  -   -   -   - 
ALL PRIVATE INDUSTRY 92 30,000 200,000  93,752 91,250
           
SPECIAL LIBRARIES          
Northeast 4 45,000 62,000  55,125 56,750
Southeast 4 37,000 55,000  49,000 52,000
South Central 2 38,500 65,000  51,750 51,750
Midwest 4 37,000 45,000  41,750 42,500
Mountain 2 52,000 63,358  57,679 57,679
Pacific 2 58,000 71,000  64,500 64,500
Canada/Int'l -  -   -   -   - 
ALL SPECIAL 18 37,000 71,000  51,742 53,000
           
ARCHIVES/SPECIAL COLLECTIONS          
Northeast 3 50,000 54,000  52,667 54,000
Southeast 5 40,000 60,700  51,140 53,000
South Central 1 42,000 42,000  42,000 42,000
Midwest 6 34,749 52,000  41,875 40,000
Mountain 1 35,000 35,000  35,000 35,000
Pacific 2 48,792 56,160  52,476 52,476
Canada/Int'l -  -   -   -   - 
ALL ARCHIVES/SPECIAL COLLECTIONS 18 34,749 60,700  47,050 47,396
           
NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS          
Northeast 4 41,000 97,500  67,750 66,250
Southeast 2 50,000 68,000  59,000 59,000
South Central -  -   -   -   - 
Midwest 7 36,000 70,000  52,571 50,000
Mountain -  -   -   -   - 
Pacific 1 64,000 64,000  64,000 64,000
Canada/Int'l -  -   -   -   - 
ALL NONPROFIT 14 36,000 97,500  58,643 53,750
           
OTHER ORGANIZATIONS          
Northeast 11 34,000 125,000  60,832 50,000
Southeast 4 28,000 105,000  56,250 46,000
South Central 7 34,000 74,000  47,023 41,160
Midwest 6 29,000 55,000  42,060 42,000
Mountain 2 25,000 30,000  27,500 27,500
Pacific 8 44,000 94,000  62,213 55,250
Canada/Int'l 2 33,000 85,644  59,322 59,322
ALL OTHER 40 25,000 125,000  53,675 46,825

This table represents only full-time salaries and all placements reported by type. Some individuals omitted placement information, rendering some information unusable.

SCHOOL PLACEMENT HELP

The specific support each LIS program offers for graduates as they build their career path varies by school, but common features include providing information about available positions and resources for conducting an effective job search. More than a quarter of the schools offer formal mentoring programs that range from pairing alumni professionals with students, to career advising staff, to semester long extra-curricular programs that help students learn about completing job applications, the interview process, and building personal networks.

On average, each school made students aware of 401 job opportunities in the last year. The most prevalent tool LIS schools use to help students become aware of job opportunities is through listserv announcements (92 percent). Half the schools also use social media. Other strategies are posting announcements on bulletin boards or in student areas and through student groups or other student activities (both 47 percent). In a decrease from last year, only 22 percent of the schools indicated that they have a formal placement service or center. Other specific strategies they use include career programming, career fairs, career support groups, university career resources, and highlighting external resources such as the ALA Joblist and Handshake. Overall, LIS schools felt that the time it took to help with placements was the same as last year, and that they did not change their use of resources.

Compared to previous years, LIS schools report that some of the job positions available were new types of positions or job titles. Particular titles they cited included head of metadata and discovery, reproducibility librarian, research metrics librarian, bioinformationist, social media librarian, data science librarian, user experience specialist, and scholarly communication for research infrastructure.

 

HOW SCHOOLS THINK COVID-19 WILL AFFECT PLACEMENTS

We asked the LIS schools how they expected the pandemic to affect their ability to support their 2020 graduates’ job search. Half the schools expect there to be effects, including needing to spend additional time supporting new graduates in Spring 2020, as well as those who graduated in December 2019; helping graduates with searches during hiring freezes that are happening throughout the industry; extending career support for an extra year beyond the normal time frame; shifting to more virtual career support, increased focus on internship opportunities; and increasing mentor programs. As employers are forced to re-imagine their businesses and institutions, schools must help graduates find creative ways to envision their career goals and their preferred work environment.


Suzie Allard (sallard.utk.edu) is Professor of Information Sciences and Associate Dean of Research, University of Tennessee College of Communication & Information, Knoxville, and winner of the 2013 LJ Teaching Award.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


RELATED 

ALREADY A SUBSCRIBER?

We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing

ALREADY A SUBSCRIBER?