Pay the library staff well

Thus, money rules the world. It determines the status of men as well as the value of the services rendered by them. Unfortunately, people are prepared to benefit by a service only in proportion to the value set on it by money. Thus, a famished staff will render the efforts of the First Law as futile as paucity of books or paucity of readers. In the trinity of the library–books, staff, and readers–the richness of the staff in worldly goods appears to be as necessary as the richness of the other two in number and variety, if the law ‘Books Are for Use’ is to be translated into practice. It will have to be so, so long as men’s status is left to the capricious and arbitrary rule of Mammon. 'Therefore, pay the library staff well,’ says the First Law.

Raised by Wolves

Older article (2006) that uses an analogy I love:

Academic libraries now hire an increasing number of individuals to fill professional librarian positions who do not have the master’s degree in library science….

Historically, the shared graduate educational experience has provided a standard preparation and socialization into the library profession. The new professional groups have been ‘raised’ in other environments and bring to the academic library a ‘feral’ set of values, outlooks, styles, and expectations.

The Brown University Library hires a fair number of “feral professionals”–it was interesting to find out this isn’t a relatively-new issue.

Stanley Wilder, writing in The Chronicle of Higher Education also elaborated on this, mentioning the relative youth and high salaries of the “ferals”:

For example, people in nontraditional positions accounted for 23 percent of the professionals at research libraries in 2005, compared to just 7 percent in 1985.

But the most compelling aspect of the nontraditional population is its youth: 39 percent of library professionals under 35 work in such nontraditional jobs, compared with only 21 percent of those 35 and older….

Within the under-35 population, 24 percent of nontraditional library employees earn $54,000 or more, compared to just 7 percent of those in traditional positions. Our profession has no precedent for the existence of so large a cohort of young employees who begin their careers at salaries approaching those of established middle managers.

Wilder’s closing describes the issue I’m currently looking at:

The libraries that thrive in the coming years will be those that apply the full range of nontraditional expertise in the service of those timeless values, and not the other way around.

About Me

Developer at Brown University Library specializing in instructional design and technology, Python-based data science, and XML-driven web development.

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