Wow this month sets a record (I always do the month's bills in the middle of the month). I have 286.30 more in bills than I do in income, this is a record low deficit since I've been employed as a librarian.

I am experimenting with new frugality. I've been bringing a lunch to work (although I liked leaving the building it was a brief respite - now I eat at the library and get grouchy because people won't leave me alone in the break room) I've been reducing my driving (I missed 2 free concerts in St.Pete because I didn't want to spend the $10 on gas).

I haven't gone to the shooting range in a few months; I haven't seen a movie at the theater since 2003; I stopped taking my shirts to the dry cleaners I need the $1.10/ shirt.

Of course I let my cleaning lady who came once a week go months ago, I stopped my netflix membership and I'm looking at alternatives to my DSL connection.

I've got some vacation property that I am going to sell.

At this rate I should exhaust my savings (at least those that are not in a retirement account) in just a few years. Thank goodness people value librarians and libraries so much that it makes this worthwhile.

Next month is going to suck though as I am going out ( and following Karl Malden's advice and not leaving home without my American Express) and drink until I forget that I have spent six years in college to get a degree that has an annual salary less than my student loans. I will then take a cab home- one of the few expenses I can justify.

Stop by O'Briens and I'll stand ya a pint!


It truly is a shame that librarian salaries are low. On the other hand...

I've never paid anyone else to launder my shirts (exept for two tux shirts) (yes, I wash them, not my wife). We've never had a maid or cleaning service (yes, I do the vacuuming & dusting & windows & one of the two bathrooms). (We haven't had a gardener in years, for that matter.) We've certainly never owned vacation property. We haven't been to a movie theater in at least 15 years. My wife eats at her desk most days; I do some days--and when we go out, it's to cheap places. We drive relatively inexpensive cars that get great gas mileage.

I never thought of our lifestyle as deprived or of ourselves as particularly frugal.

At this point, most of the choices above are exactly that: Choices (except, I suspect, for vacation property). But I'm guessing that 27 years of similar choices have made a difference. (OK, we're a two-income family, and after 25+ years in the field we make decent money by library standards, although certainly not by Silicon Valley standards. That wasn't always true.)

Not suggesting that you shouldn't be making better money. Of course, it might help if you didn't have people like Greg* undercutting the profession by proclaiming that librarianship only needs a bachelor's degree, which pretty much justifies lousy salaries...

I don't really spend money on things my friends that I have known for 15-20 years do. I don't buy expensive new cars, but inexpensive economy cars, Hondas and Saturns (one at a time of course), and I don't launder my shirts anymore nor do I iron - I just go to work wrinkly. It was not (is not I guess as it hasn't sold) vacation property so much as a place to live when I moved to Mexico to take that fantastic job that never came through.

I don't buy designer water or live in a gated community. I live in a geezer condo because it is inexpenisve and I buy my pants at target because they are made by the same company that makes Tommy Hilfinger (or however you spell it).

I do feel better since Tyco's CEO was convicted though. Not that I have anything aginst Tyco, or the CEO for that matter but sometimes I just like to see it stuck to the man.

This journal entry spawned a very odd thread. I wonder why.

I'm not saying standards should be lowered. What I'm saying is that the MLS does nothing to keep those standards in check. A degree that offers no actual benefit to the duties performed is nothing more than a worthless piece of paper.

I disagree on the general education. To many people are under the impression that we must *know* everything and that is simply not the case, nor should it be. We provide access to information not information itself. If I had a PhD in Civil War History that wouldn't give me the right to give a lecture to a high school or college student on the Battle of Gettysburg. I have to provide the resources but I am not to be one of them, and more then likely the resources I needed will not be the ones they needed.

You can't compare Librarians to steelworkers and welders. Again, you can't have a conversation about salaries without addressing the environment that those salaries are created in. We're up against police officers and professors.

Lest you accuse me again of running away: I disagree. A good librarian needs a good general education at the BA level, followed by the professional education for the MLS. Since we clearly disagree here--oddly enough, you're the one with the MLS arguing to undermine library standards, and I'm the one with the BA arguing to uphold them--further discussion may be pointless.

You surely won't improve salaries by making the jobs less professional as indicated by lower educational requirement. Unless, of course, you can demonstrate other skill needs or job requirements that are so arduous that most people can't/won't meet them--which is why welders and steelworkers make six-figure incomes, at least according to one recent news story on the difficulty of recruiting new ones. (And, in my opinion, deserve every cent.)

"My personal situation: I would be wholly unqualified to be a reference librarian, a cataloger, a collections development librarian, or an archivist, in all cases because I lack the education (which a good MLS would provide). I would not apply for a position as head of a library both because I'm not much of a manager and because I believe those jobs really should involve an MLS.

A good MLS might supply that education but so would a good Bachelors. I've been very consistent in saying that Directors, Ass't Directors, and Department Heads of large libraries should have an MLS. Those positions tend to be less about Librarianship and more about Leadership.

I don't believe a discussion on salaries can occur without acknowledging that half of the problem is politics not education. And that is an area where we're not going to win. Its my opinion that by refocusing the education we will, in the long run, improve salaries by taking away part of the unnecessary burden of becoming a Librarian.

Really. I wasn't aware that I ducked responses. "Run away"--an interesting accusation. I've been here all along, except for vacations and other trips. I don't respond in cases where I believe that there's no room for movement or common understanding; true enough.

I believe the MLS is the appropriate degree for many jobs in most libraries, including most jobs that currently require it. I believe that some libraries should make exceptions based on experience and specialized training (e.g., I believe I would have qualified to be a systems librarian in most cases, although the last decade or so has made my knowledge a bit specialized)--but I won't argue in those cases where such exceptions aren't feasible.

My personal situation: I would be wholly unqualified to be a reference librarian, a cataloger, a collections development librarian, or an archivist, in all cases because I lack the education (which a good MLS would provide). I would not apply for a position as head of a library both because I'm not much of a manager and because I believe those jobs really should involve an MLS. I would apply (and have applied) for certain jobs where extensive knowledge/experience may substitute for the degree. And if I really wanted to be a librarian, I'd apply for the MLS program down the road at San Jose State--which may yet happen.

Do I think your actions have brought down salareis across the nation? Of course not. That doesn't mean I think they're helpful. The more librarians who are on record as saying "hey, these jobs don't need masters' degrees, which means they can be cheaper," the easier it is for individual boards and managers to deprofessionalize libraries. And, you know, I don't believe you'd be writing about this if you thought your writing had no impact at all. (But I don't want to impute motivation.)

The difference between you and me Walt is I'm always game to back up my comments (comments I generally direct to the person I'm talking about not post inside other comments to other people). You have a tendency to throw in barbs and then run away. I don't expect a warning I just expect an actual discussion about the MLS if your going to bring it up, and previous experience tells me that's not going to happen (non-advocate that you are). It still hasn't happened, instead you throw in the Terri Schiavo case, to which I say "What the?"

Oh and thank you very much. Apparently I'm much more persuasive then I thought if my sole actions have managed to bring down salaries across the countries. I shall have to wear my *S* buttons with much more pride.

I posted a response to this--I swear I did--but it seems to have disappeared. Briefly, I'm not disputing that you should be making more than you are, and I'm not making the "affluent Americans vs. everyone else" argument--I just found your list of economies so unusual as to be worth commenting on: That is, it seems to include things that I would consider fairly typical for reasonably affluent Americans, even. (I dunno: Maybe everyone else here uses a cleaning service and has their shirts done professionally and owns vacation property. I just doubt it). That may have been a mistake. Meanwhile, I certainly agree that service professionals (and nonprofessionals) should be treated with respect, and that they're too frequently not treated that way.

GregS*: I'll apologize for criticizing you without asking your permission first right about the time Senator--oh, sorry, Dr.--Frist apologizes for his "oh, it wasn't really a diagnosis" TV diagnosis. Don't hold your breath in either case. But I'm delighted to know that you're so polite that you never criticize anyone without first letting them know it's going to happen! (And that you manage to believe that denying the professionalism of library work can't possibly have any effect on compensation.)

For the record I'm talking about *just* smiling. Not perky. I hate perky.

Holy crap, I just have to smile? Man you could have told me that months ago. :)

Well that makes me feel better. I know I'm much better off than 98% of the people in the world. I know where my next meal is coming from even if I am bringing turkey and cheese on white bread from home.

Sometimes it would seem better to go work somewhere where the profession is more appreciated. I guess it has become part of the culture in our country to take things for granted. I noticed it as a nurse that people in foreign countries genuinely appreciate what you do for them. The looks on the patients in Guatemala, Haiti and other countries where I have gone on relief trips showed that what I did really made a difference in their lives.

Similarly I see that same sort of appreciation when I go to the Merida English Library with a crate of books, or when I help someone there find an answer. I can see the real appreciation rather than what I am used to in the States.

Not that I want the patients, or patrons to gush with praise but I would like them to put down the mobile phone when they talk to me. I didn't become a librarian to get rich, but then again I didn't do it to go broke either. Having my income = my expenses + retirement would keep me a happy man.

That's what I've always loved about you Walt, you're a hit-and-run kinda guy.

Here's bulletin for ya since you don't actually work in libraries. The MLS? has been a standard for a while now. Guess what? Salaries are still lousy. They're lousy because libraries are usually part of a larger organism like cities and colleges, they are also usually the smallest part of that organism and so get short shrift when it comes to bargaining.

I have an MLS and I got to watch secretaries and dog catchers makes more then what I do (I'm pretty sure some secretaries still do, not sure about the dog catcher). Not to mention you subtract what I pay in student loans and suddenly even people who make less then what I do are taking home more then what I do.

Right now I'm fortunate to work in a strong community and I've been able to translate my skills into a pretty decent salary (though living in MA means even that is relative). I managed to do that with two things that had *nothing* to do with an MLS, strong computer skills and, believe it or not, a smile. And that's it.

Understood. I'm a little repentant for my initial post; I was trying to poke a little fun, but said it badly. Anyway, here's hoping you find better pay some day. Librarianship shouldn't have to be entirely a labor of love!

I don't know that "wrinkly" is necessary; I sure don't iron. Today's good 60/40 blends really are wrinkle-free, or close enough. My wife, who does iron her own clothes and has some ripe comments about how men get all the well-made, easy-to-care-for clothing, doesn't object to the state of any of the dress shirts sans ironing. I can't wear 100% cotton anyway: my body chemistry destroys the neck after about three wearings...[And until recently, I could only use a wallet for about 18 months before the cover would turn to strange mottled patterns--something I inherited from my father; neither of us can wear leather or cloth watchbands.] Sigh; used to buy almost all my shirts at Ross, but the local Ross now seems to have nothing but crapola and stuff I'm 40 years too old to wear. On the other hand, I've recently found that Mervyn's house brands of slacks look better and last longer than Dockers; maybe I need to look at Target's men's clothing more closely--I shop there every two weeks, so it's not out of the question.

As I've found here and at Walt at Random, the trajectory of an e-conversation is frequently unpredictable. This post, probably as far as this topic needs to go, is as off-topic as anything I've done recently...

Hey, I have something against Tyco's CEO. Ripping off the company on a scale that grand automatically means raising prices for stuff we use, directly or indirectly. I have nothing against a fair profit (which I'd probably define as "any profit you can make in a situation where there's the real possibility of competition undercutting you"); pure private fraud should be punished once in a while.

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