Salaries and Benefits: A Survey of Vermont Academic Librarians

[see full document for original formatting, graphs, tables, charts, appendices,  and/or worksheets]

Salaries and Benefits: A Survey of Vermont Academic Librarians (PDF, 263 KB)

Prepared by the Personnel Committee of the Vermont Library Association, 2008

Table of Contents

Analysis: Salaries
Analysis: Benefits
Vermont Academic Librarian Salaries in Context
Salary Surveys & Resources
Appendix 1: Survey Instrument
Appendix 2: Institutions Surveyed
Appendix 3: Selected Data


In the spring of 2006, then-director of Burlington College Library Teresa Faust approached the Personnel Committee of the Vermont Library Association with a request: She and other librarians active in the Association of Vermont Independent Colleges (AVIC) would like to know the status of academic librarians’ salaries and benefits in Vermont. Could the Personnel Committee help?

The Committee was ready for a new challenge. We had just completed a year-long revision of “Increasing Public Library Compensation” and felt that it was time to work on behalf of the college and university librarians in the state. Step one was to recruit new members to represent the range of Vermont institutions of higher education. We then developed a straightforward plan: identify the academic librarians in the state; create an online survey that would gather the most useful data; administer the survey as simply and painlessly as possible; and report the results in a timely manner.

The result is the report you are reading. The report begins with background information – methodology, response rate, etc. – continues with highlights and conclusions from the data, provides a list of similar surveys for purposes of comparison, and concludes with the survey instrument and selected data.

Although the raw data is confidential, the Personnel Committee can provide customized reports, provided that anonymity is maintained. Please contact us with questions, requests, or ideas – for our next project, perhaps?

Amy C. Grasmick, Chair (Kimball Public Library,
Clara Bruns (Goddard College,
Jo Anne Edwards (Johnson State College,
Amy Howlett (VT Dept. of Libraries,
Stacey Knight (Union Institute & University,
Sarah Koehl Sanfilippo (Southern Vermont College,
Scott Schaffer (University of Vermont,
Lucinda Walker (Norwich Public Library,
Judy Watts (Middlebury College,

Special thanks to Alan Howard (Academic Computing, University of Vermont), who helped us make
sense of the raw data.

Mean: the average of all the values
Median: the point above and below which there are an equal number of values
Standard Deviation: a measure of dispersion from the mean; in a so-called normal distribution, 2/3 of the values would be within one standard deviation of the mean


The Personnel Committee of the Vermont Library Association had a simple goal: gather data about academic librarians’ salary and benefits, so that these librarians can advocate for themselves. Librarians, after all, are big believers in information, and it makes sense to use our skills to help our institutions. Our first order of business was to compile a comprehensive mailing list of academic librarians in Vermont. Members of the Committee contacted the director of every academic library in the state to gather the names and e-mail addresses of all MLS librarians working in a library position.

Meanwhile, the Committee spent a number of meetings determining the scope of the survey and crafting an instrument that was both user-friendly and would give us data of value to the end-user [Appendix 1: Survey instrument]. We decided to use an online survey from with a confidential link that would be e-mailed to each academic librarian. The survey’s questions sought information about individuals’ paid time off, standard benefits (e.g., medical/dental/vision, retirement), additional benefits (e.g., professional leave, tuition, etc.), and wages. The survey also gathered “demographic” data about the individual, including current area of responsibility, number of years in current position, number of years as a professional librarian, and name of institution. Of the 116 librarians who received the survey, 71 completed it, a response rate of 61%. In addition, we asked the director of each library to provide data about the institution itself: student enrollment, staff size, library budget, etc. Of the 24 institutions surveyed, only six did not provide institutional data [Appendix 2: Institutions surveyed]. However, every institution was represented by at least one respondent.

The academic library community in Vermont is simultaneously small and highly diverse. We can see this in a variety of measures:

  • total full-time equivalent (FTE) student enrollment: 95 – 10,620;
  • total annual library budget: $50,000 – $12 million;
  • total FTEs employed in the library, not including student workers: 0.8 – 105.

This diversity presented some challenges when the Committee turned to analyzing and reporting the survey results. There is a small-town quality to the community of academic librarians, both in its overall size and in the “everyone knows everyone” nature of Vermont. Therefore, the Committee took steps to assure respondent confidentiality. First, we adjusted the responses of the eight librarians working less than full time – anywhere from 37.5% to 90% time – to fulltime equivalents. Second, we report the results in categories that maintain anonymity. In some cases, the distribution is fairly even across the range, as with salary by years in the profession, or by job title/area of responsibility. In other cases, these categories are quite narrow at one end of the scale and quite broad at the other, as in the comparison of salaries by total FTE enrollment:

0-500: 10 respondents
501-1000: 9 respondents
1001-2000: 7 respondents
2001+ : 36 respondents

Another result of the small yet highly diverse respondent pool is the occasionally marked span between the lowest and highest values and in some cases the large standard deviation. For instance, annual salaries reported range from $29,000 to $167,000, with a mean of $54,277, a median of $49,360, and a standard deviation of $24,559. With these caveats in mind, let us turn to a more detailed analysis of the survey results.


[see full document for tables, graphs, or charts]

The most striking aspect of the overall distribution of salaries is the relatively high standard deviation of $24,559. This standard deviation reveals the highly dispersed character of the salaries reported in the survey. The difference between the mean of $54,277 and the median (50th percentile) of $49,360 is due to a number of comparatively high salaries.

In contrast to the large overall standard deviation, median salaries for the different types of positions do not show a wide divergence across categories. However, the data do indicate tremendous variability in the salaries of deans/directors/chief officers, with a minimum reported salary of $32,000 and a maximum of $167,000.

The data for salary by years of professional experience appear to be rather surprising. The mean and median for the 5 -9 years group ($48,795 and $49,360 respectively) are actually higher than the mean and median for the 10-14 years group ($47,473 and $42,250). This anomalous result is probably due in part to the small number of respondents in each category. Such a result may possibly be indicative of the phenomenon of salary compression in the profession.

Turning to data by size of institution, number of library employees, and library budget, a few conclusions seem appropriate. Comparing salaries by FTE enrollment and library budget, there is little difference among salaries at the smaller institutions by these measures and significantly higher salaries at the largest institutions. Median salaries at institutions with FTE enrollments of 2000 or fewer are quite similar: from $36,875 to $38,840. However, the median salary jumps markedly for FTE enrollment of over 2000, to $56,125 .

Similarly, median salaries by library budget up to $1,000,000 range from $36,875 to $38,840. For library budget over $1,000,000, the median salary is again $56,125.

In contrast, there is a much steadier increase in salaries using FTE library employees as a gauge. The median salary at libraries employing 0 – 4 is $36,050; 5 – 9, $50,000; and 10 or more, again, $56,125.

Salaries are somewhat higher at public institutions but it would be overly speculative to offer any particular reason for this distinction. The differences between public and private institutions could be attributable to any number of factors but more data would be required to reach meaningful conclusions.

The salary data for librarians who do not supervise, those who supervise staff but not professional librarians, and those who supervise professional librarians show a steady increase with increasing levels of responsibility, as one might expect. Those who do not supervise have median salaries of $39,989; those who supervise staff but not professional librarians, $47,675; and those supervising professional librarians, $62,500.

One very clear pattern seen across the board is the large degree of dispersion between minimum and maximum salary in the “highest” categories, i.e., the highest enrollment / number of staff / budget / years in the profession / responsibility. One possible explanation for this fact is the diverse
nature of academic institutions located in Vermont.

Benefits & other relevant data

The benefits section of the survey proved to be somewhat problematic. The questions were confusing and probably too complex for this instrument. When we do this survey again we would probably ask the directors or HR administrators to supply information on benefits. Despite the confusion, we collected some interesting and useful data.

It was very encouraging to note that all full-time librarians were provided with health insurance. In addition, all full-time librarians were entitled to paid time off. Among part-time librarians, all permanent employees working at least 73 percent of full-time were entitled to paid time off and medical insurance. (Note that tables are not provided for this information, as the number of part-time respondents was fairly small.) The median percentage of the medical insurance premiums
paid not including co-pays and other out-of-pocket expenses was 20%; however, a majority of respondents were not sure of this information.

The survey also gathered information about consolidated leave (combined paid time off for  vacation, sickness, or personal time) as opposed to separate paid leave for vacation, sickness, or personal time. Twenty-three respondents or approximately 34% of those eligible for paid leave were
entitled to consolidated leave, and 45 respondents or approximately 66% were entitled to separate
paid leave. The number of days provided for the various types of leave covered a significant
range. Vacation time was the one category for which most responses were fairly close to the median.

In addition to paid leave and medical insurance, the survey included questions on a wide array of benefits. Over 95% of full-time respondents were eligible for dental insurance and a majority of respondents were eligible for vision insurance. The data for the smorgasbord of other plans include:
72% eligible for flexible spending accounts, 23% eligible for health savings accounts, and 13% eligible for cafeteria plans. Virtually all full-time respondents were eligible for a retirement plan.

Paid sabbatical and paid professional leave are certainly important issues to academic librarians. Twenty-one percent of the respondents indicated that their institution provided paid sabbaticals and 34% indicated that their institution provided paid professional leaves. There is some overlap between the two groups, but approximately 40% or more of the respondents were provided some type of paid leave. Over 90% of those surveyed responded that their institutions paid for conference registration and travel expenses.

Much of the institutional data was collected from the deans/directors of the libraries. Seven of the nineteen institutions surveyed reported that some or all of the MLS librarians were eligible for faculty status: the College of St. Joseph, Johnson State College, Lyndon State College, Marlboro College, the University of Vermont, and Woodbury College.

Four institutions—Johnson State College, Lyndon State College, Union Institute & University, and the University of Vermont—reported that at least some of the librarians were members of a collective bargaining unit. The following union contracts are available on the World Wide Web:

“Collective Bargaining Agreement between The University of Vermont and United
Academics (AAUP/AFT) Full-time Unit: December 22, 2005 — June 30, 2008”

“Vermont State Colleges Employee Benefits”

Vermont Academic Librarian Salaries in Context

Most regional and national surveys lack significant statistical information on Vermont academic librarian salaries, due either to not being included in the sample size or because of lack of participation. As of February 2007, when the VLA survey was conducted, Vermont had only 116 academic librarians, and as demonstrated by the data reported here, they work for very diverse institutions. The VLA Academic Librarian Salary Survey serves to fill in the gap and provides a basis of comparison to other states/regions which are better represented in larger salary surveys. Now Vermont academic libraries can see how their salaries compare to their peers’ across the country. More importantly, it also provides a way for libraries to compare themselves with peer libraries in Vermont.

The American Library Association has been surveying librarians with the ALA-accredited MLS or related masters degree for many years, publishing survey results annually. Participation in the ALA-APA Survey is by invitation only; it was not sent to colleges employing fewer than two librarians with the ALA-MLS. The most recent ALA-APA Salary Survey: Librarian—Public and Academic gathered data for 2006 salaries, and was published in 2007. Please note that it includes very few Vermont respondents.

The ALA-APA Salary Survey (2007) provides the following figures, which can be compared to the salary statistics generated by the 2007 VLA Academic Librarian Salary Survey.

Unfortunately for the sake of comparison with our nearest neighbors, no data is given for New
Hampshire academic librarians, and very few Maine librarians reported.


In May 2007, the American Library Association endorsed a minimum starting salary of $40,000 for MLS librarians.1 This is higher than the median salary for librarians working in Vermont institutions with a full-time equivalent enrollment of 2000 or fewer.  In fact, more than one quarter of those who responded to the VLA salary survey make less than ALA’s recommended minimum.

In October 2007, Library Journal reported the results of its annual survey of library school placements and salaries. In the Northeast, the median starting salary for recent graduates hired by academic libraries was $38,580.2 Twenty-one respondents to the VLA survey reported making less than this median starting salary. Four of them had been working as an MLS librarian for two years or less. However, ten of them had been in the field for more than ten years!

In February 2008, Library Journal published the second of three reports on its job satisfaction survey. Focusing on academic librarians, this report has plenty to say about job satisfaction and salary:

No surprise: when asked about job satisfaction—or dissatisfaction—answers frequently involved money. Overall, 50% of respondents said they were underpaid; 48% said they were fairly paid (yes, 2% said they were overpaid). Not surprisingly, salary levels were most frequently cited as the primary cause of job dissatisfaction—and the survey suggests a solid correlation between salary and job satisfaction levels: those who said they were “very satisfied” with their work had an average annual salary of $63,800, while those who said they were “not satisfied at all” averaged less than $50,000. In addition, 70% of those who said they were unsatisfied also said they were underpaid.3

Respondents also comment on lack of pay equity with teaching faculty, even where librarians have faculty status.4

Despite their dissatisfaction with their level of compensation, however, “[t]hree out of four respondents said they planned to remain in librarianship until retirement. Only 3% said they would likely abandon the profession; 86% said they would choose librarianship again if they had it to do it all over again. Some 87% said they would recommend a career in academic librarianship to a young person entering college.”5 How can we explain this apparent disconnect? Presumably, the respondents find enough satisfaction in the daily challenges of the job to offset their dissatisfaction with their pay.

In the bigger picture, this willingness to work for love instead of money means that, until academic librarians speak up for the value of their work, their institutions are unlikely to feel compelled to increase their compensation. Compelling arguments for better pay include:

  • the costs of recruiting and training new staff—including loss of productivity during vacancy and transition—compared to the costs of retaining established staff;6
  • the finding by ACRL’s Ad Hoc Task Force on Recruitment and Retention Issues, that less competitive salaries are a prime factor for shortages of academic librarians;7
  • anecdotal evidence that better compensation would be required to lure back academic librarians who have left the field;8
  • the strong correlation between an employee’s satisfaction with his/her compensation and the intention to stay with an organization: the higher the satisfaction, the higher the commitment.9

ALA-APA’s “Advocating for Better Salaries and Pay Equity Toolkit” is one resource for librarians who are building a case for improved compensation.10


1 “ALA-APA salary resolution,”
2 Stephanie Maatta, “What’s an MLIS worth?” Library Journal (10/15/07), 36.
3 Andrew Richard Albanese, “Take this job and love it,” Library Journal (2/1/08), 36f.
4 Ibid, 36.
5 Ibid, 39.
6 “Recalibrating turnover-cost calculators,” Workforce Management 84:6 (6/1/05), 37.
7 Ad Hoc Task Force on Recruitment and Retention Issues: a subcommittee of the Association of College & Research Libraries Personnel Administrators & Staff Development Officers Discussion Group, Recruitment, Retention and Restructuring: Human Resources in Academic Libraries (Chicago: ALA) 2002, 4, cited in Jeff Luzius and Allyson Ard, “Leaving the academic library,” Journal of Academic Librarianship 32:6 (11/06), 594.
8 Luzius and Allyson, 597.
9 Owen Parker and Liz Wright, “Pay and employee commitment: the missing link,” Ivey Business Journal 65:3 (1/01), 70.
10 Advocating for Better Salaries and Pay Equity Toolkit, 4th ed., ALA-APA (4/07), toolkit.pdf.

Salary Surveys & Resources


ALA-APA Library Salary Survey
A summary article, and information about ordering the print copy or subscribing to the online database of the salary survey conducted in 2006 and published in 2007. Survey includes both MLS and Non-MLS data collected from a selected sample of participants. Salary data is broken down by regions and state, but Vermont did not have enough salary data to be broken down separately.

Salary and Staffing Studies from the ALA Office for Research and Statistics
ALA reports on salary and staffing issues based on supplemental questions in the annual salary survey.

CUPA-HR (College & University Professional Association for Human Resources)
CUPA-HR produces the salary surveys used by many higher education human resources departments for guiding salary decisions.

2006/2007 CUPA-HR Salary Surveys for Higher Education
Selected published results from the 2006/2997 CUPA-HR salary surveys of median salaries by
title and institution type.

NCES (National Center for Education Statistics)
NCES surveys academic libraries biennially and provides an online comparison tool. Aggregate
salary data for librarians and staff is reported although to ensure anonymity of participants some
salary data has been excluded.

ARL Annual Salary Survey
Conducted annually this survey reports salary data on more than 12,000 librarians from 123 ARL
member libraries. ARL is a noteworthy salary survey, but most Vermont academic libraries
would not be able to use it as a comparison tool because the members of ARL are large research
libraries with higher budgets and larger student populations.

AAUP Faculty Salary Survey provided by Chronicle of Higher Education
Annual salary survey of teaching faculty produced by the American Association of University
Professors (AAUP) organized by institution type and job rank. Can search by individual states
and institution type.

Average Librarian Earnings from the Bureau of Labor Statistics
Report in the Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2006-07 on librarians including their average

New England Chapter ACRL Survey
(no longer available online)
This regional survey was last conducted in 2004 and sent to non-ARL libraries of which 55

Albanese, Andrew Richard. “Take This Job and Love It.” Library Journal. February 1, 2008. 36-39.
Reports results of LJ’s first job satisfaction survey since 1994.

Maatta, Stephanie. “What’s an MLIS Worth?” Library Journal. October 15, 2007. 30-38.
Reports placements and starting salaries for new LIS graduates.

Pay Equity Resources

ALA-APA Salary resolution
On January 22, 2007 the ALA-APA governing board passed a nonbinding resolution supporting
a minimum salary of $40,000 for professional librarians.

Advocating for Better Salaries and Pay Equity Toolkit, 4th ed. ALA-APA. Apr 2007
Messages, strategies and other support materials based on materials originally developed for the
Campaign for America’s Librarians.

Ad Hoc Task Force on Recruitment and Retention Issues: a subcommittee of the Association of
College & Research Libraries Personnel Administrators & Staff Development Officers Discussion
Group. Recruitment, Retention and Restructuring: Human Resources in Academic Libraries
(Chicago: ALA) 2002.

Luzius, Jeff and Allyson Ard. “Leaving the Academic Library.” Journal of Academic Librarianship
32:6 (11/06), 593-598.

Parker, Owen and Liz Wright. “Pay and Employee Commitment: The Missing Link.” Ivey
Business Journal 65:3 (1/01), 70.

Collective Bargaining Agreements

Collective Bargaining Agreement between The University of Vermont and United
Academics (AAUP/AFT) Full-time Unit: December 22, 2005 — June 30, 2008

Vermont State Colleges Employee Benefits


[see full document for original formatting, graphs, tables, charts, appendices,  and/or worksheets]

Salaries and Benefits: A Survey of Vermont Academic Librarians (PDF, 263 KB)