Friday, July 11, 2008

Urge to Yell!

I spend a lot of time teaching future librarians and trying to promote the idea that librarians are skilled professionals. Compared to computer programmers and analysts, new librarians know about information and how information is used. Librarians also have a greater depth to their knowledge of technology. So-- why do computer programmers get paid more?

Two incidents happened this week that make me want to yell. I will hide the names to protect the innocent.

On Wednesday I wanted to get away from my study and computer to read in preparation for a class. No more than 10 minutes after I left the study and computer I get a phone call. It was fellow librarian, MJ, asking if I knew the phone number of a person in our group. The MJ said the number wasn't listed. First, I did not know the number. Even if I did based on our last meeting I would have been hesitate to share this person's number. I asked MJ to check or MJ indicated that she did not know of these services and asked how to spell them. OK, I spelled s-w-i-t-c-h-b-o-a-r-d dot c-o-m. MJ said thank you and I went back to my reading. 15 minutes later MJ called and said that she still couldn't find the number. I told MJ that I was not near my computer. I told her where this person worked and told her to call the office. MJ begged me to look up the office number. Reluctantly, I did. I asked if she had experienced trouble with MJ replied, oh no. I don't use the computer, I leave that to my husband.

Luckily for us -- MJ retired from working in a library.

Second --
I came across an advertisement for a synagogue librarian that included:

Requirements: Responsibilities include: •Selecting books for acquisition •Maintaining periodicals, as well as general catalogue •Proficiency in managing circulation. •Coordinate library activities and programs with Rabbis, Gan Shalom pre-school, youth and adult education departments.

Qualifications include: •Interest in Jewish education and issues •Some library experience and skills •Part-time availability- includes Sunday mornings, as well as one full weekday.

Salary: $12- $15 an hour

I sent this to other librarians in our group with a comment that the salary is pretty low. Comments came back such as:

that's about what ABC Temple, in [city deleted], IL, used to pay its librarian, until they decided they could no longer afford one at all."

"Not surprising, since they aren't looking for a professional librarian."

"....the job requirements do not match the qualifications."

" I have been getting only $15/hour for about 10 years even though I have an MLS."

Librarians who work in schools should be on the same pay scale as teachers. This how the public schools calculate compensation. Teachers can start with a BA and no experience in Chicago public schools in the mid $40's. With a masters degree and experience they get more.

The urge to yell subsided when I shared the story and we all had a good laugh.

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