University librarians get paid more than public librarians
It is pretty easy to form a visual representation of a person who works in a particular field or industry. Police officers draw an image of a patrol car and a person in a dark uniform with a badge, doctors are generally shown in their all white medical wardrobes and a stethoscope around their necks and librarians are pictured as a late aged person with a frail frame and bad eye sight. But, like most things in life, our perceptions are generally very far removed from reality.
What if I were to tell you that a librarian isn't just that character you see in the movies? What if I were to even say that librarians can be compared to being as ambitious as high powered CEOs or as respected as a dean of a university. Believe it or not, the library system is much bigger and more complex than many people realize, especially in the world of colleges and universities.
Temple University's library system can be compared to a multi-million dollar company. While there aren't revenues or shareholders, there is most definitely a strategic goal, budgeting, massive ventures such as renovations and expansions, and a large and diverse workforce. The budget for the Temple University system alone is over $24 million a year with more than 150 employees. The lead librarian serves a roll much like a president/CEO of a small company.
Not too long ago the University of California at Santa Cruz completed renovations to their main campus library. The project included a new 81,000 square-foot addition and a renovation to the original 114,000 square-foot library and the construction of a new cafe. During that time the entire library collection of 1.4 million volumes had to be moved twice and still be accessible during the six year construction project. When said and done, the $100 million renovation was a success, in large part to the librarians who had a very important role in the process.
Fitting to the difficulty and experience required to fulfill the role of university librarian executive, head librarian, or dean of libraries, compensation is towards the top of the librarian scale. As an example, the University of California at Los Angeles had an average department salary of $76,648 in 2011, while the head librarian earned $244,599 for that same year. While not all librarians will have the aspirations to reach that position, it is nice to know that if desired, the opportunity is there.