Public library staff pay

As public libraries enter the budget writing season, the Personnel Committee of the Vermont Library Association urges library directors to take a hard look at staff salaries. Here are some points to keep in mind:

* Qualified library directors should be paid at least $40,300 annually, or $19.38 per hour, as recommended by the Vermont Library Association Executive Board.
* If the library does not pay for medical insurance, offer compensatory leave or a lump sum payment instead.
* At a minimum, increase staff wages by the Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) as set by the Social Security Administration annually in October. There will be no increase to social security payments in 2010. However, now is a good time to “catch up” if you have missed COLA in previous years.
* Consider whether your library has experienced increased usage this year. More visits, more items borrowed, more usage of resources, more programs — all mean more work for the staff. Even if job descriptions haven’t expanded, the workload may have.

Check the attached budget memo for more details. Share the information with library trustees as you build the annual budget. To study appropriate compensation, view the Personnel Committee’s 2009 revision of “Increasing Public Library Compensation: A How-To Guide for Vermont Libraries” at

For further information about or assistance with the above or any other personnel questions, please contact the committee chair:

Rubi Simon
Burnham Memorial Library
898 Main Street (Rte. 2A)
Colchester, VT 05446


Budget time often brings up questions about Vermont library salaries. Want some help deciding what a fair raise is for your employees? Think about some of these pointers from the Vermont Library Association’s Personnel Committee:

  • At a minimum, COLA, or Cost of Living Adjustment, should be considered annually. The Social Security Administration announces COLA for the upcoming October; for 2010, there will be no COLA. However, if staff have missed COLA increases for several years, now is the time to catch up. COLA increases are available at
  • Continuing education is an ongoing factor for librarians who need to stay on top of new online tools, trends in the country, and in the profession. If your librarian has recently completed the Certification of Public Librarians, recognize this important benchmark with a significant raise. Check with your school superintendent to see what percentage the schools use for a step raise as teachers add credits to their starting credentials. If your town has created a step chart for its employees, you may use that for the raise.
  • Changes in job description occur incrementally. Bit by bit, the staff may increase the number of library programs, the number of volunteers supervised, the number of services for the community, or grants written. Even if job descriptions have not changed, your library may have experienced a marked increase in usage – which means an increase in staff workload. Annually, trustees should scrutinize changes in the scope and responsibility of the job to see if an additional raise is warranted.
  • The Vermont Library Association Executive Board recommended a minimum starting salary of $40,300 for full-time public library directors in September 2009. The remuneration should include a full benefits package including medical insurance, vacation and sick leave, and a retirement plan. The pro-rated hourly wage for this salary is $19.38, the figure you should use for part-time directors.
  • A fair benefits package should be considered part of staff compensation. If the library does not offer full benefits to its staff, trustees may include a line item in the budget to offer payment in lieu of benefits. Naming the benefit line allows trustees to move towards appropriate benefits for medical insurance, vacation and sick leave, and a retirement plan.
  • Bonuses reward staff for exceptional performance. Bonuses are appropriate when staff have risen to meet major challenges. Finding new money to replace an unexpected shortfall, continuing to deliver excellent service while writing and administering a grant, or completing a long-range plan might be occasions for a one-time bonus.
  • Make sure that library staff is paid for all hours worked—or paid for enough hours to get the work done. By law, staff should not volunteer for the job they are paid to do.
  • Use the strategies outlined in “Increasing Public Library Compensation: A How-To Guide to Vermont Libraries,” revised in 2009. This publication is available at, and includes easy-to-fill-in worksheets.
  • Trustees may decide they need more time to understand the whole question of staff salaries. The Personnel Committee of the Vermont Library Association will be happy to help you review and study your library salaries and job descriptions. Contact committee chair Amy C. Grasmick at or (802) 728-5073 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              (802) 728-5073      end_of_the_skype_highlighting for more information.