Labor Day seems like the appropriate time to consider salaries in the fields of archives and libraries.  In 2012, the Society of American Archivists (SAA) created the SNAP Roundtable — for Students and New Archives Professionals.  But concern about the number of available paid positions and the quality of life afforded by their usually poor salaries reached such a fever pitch that Jackie Dooley devoted her 2013 presidential address to the issue of nurturing new entrants into the archives field.

Applicants beware — no one should go into the archives field with an eye to striking it rich.  A 2007 report by the Library Research Service culled information from a number of sources to generate average salaries for archivists and reported that archivists typically earn substantially less than librarians with an equivalent amount of training.

Library Journal routinely reports on employment issues.  Its October 2013 article includes data on recent graduates of MLS programs and their success in finding jobs.  The results are dismal.  Admittedly, the economy has not fully recovered from the “Great Recession,” but it also appears that schools are inflating their numbers of students despite the paucity of jobs.  The 2012 class of graduates that was surveyed did better in “emerging jobs,” or what the Library Journal calls “The Emerging Databrarian.”  A 2014 article includes a detailed comparison of the pay and job satisfaction for public, academic, and school librarians.  It includes some interesting feedback about the impact of lack of recognition and poor management on overall job satisfaction.

Unfortunately, our society is not one that financially rewards the occupations that I value — but nevertheless, I still find great value in the work of archivists and librarians.  For a compelling explanation of the importance of archival work, I recommend reading the 2009 SAA presidential address by Frank Boles.  His commentary on collective memory and accountability and stewardship will touch you and inspire you every time.

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