ASSOCIATES (2005, March, v. 11, no. 3) -

*Library Support Staff Salary Surveys -- Whatís the Big Deal Anyway?*


Kristine Shum
Vancouver Public Library
Vancouver, BC, Canada

Have you ever thought about how much you are worth in todayís market? Do you wonder how you compare to your counterparts across the province, across Canada and internationally? If youíre like me, itís a big deal.

Many who work in a library or a non-traditional library setting may perform similar and dissimilar tasks and receive varying levels of pay, depending on the type of industry. A library salary survey is a great tool for gathering, comparing, and conveying information on education background, employment status, job functions, and wages, among others. Another benefit of a survey is that it allows for long-term comparisons. Itís a good way to see how much salaries have increased over time.

However, the process of creating a survey can be tedious and time-consuming. I know this because I was a rookie in helping to co-ordinate the Library Technicians and Assistants Interest Group (LTAIG) 2003 salary survey, and also helped with the 2005 survey. (A previous LTAIG survey for British Columbia was also conducted in 1996.) Let me share some of my experiences with you.

First, a salary survey committee needed to be formed. I found it best to divide the 2003 group into two separate sub-committees Ė one group to put together the survey questions and the other to input the data and to tally the results.

Second, before even attempting to think about the survey questions, we needed to consider the goals. What did we expect to achieve from the results?

A lot of thought went into revising and formulating new questions, since these had to reflect the sign of the times, as well as at least somewhat tie into previous survey results.

I was fortunate to have the support of the rest of the committee members that were not actually part of the survey working group. Were there some disagreements and philosophical differences? Yes. Several different points of view are always important in making sure the survey is clear, concise, and meaningful to our audience.

Third, we developed a timeline for completing the survey draft, testing it, and taking it live. We had to decide whether the survey would be in paper form or a web survey. (The 2003 survey was distributed both by email and print; the 2005 survey is using the online Survey Monkey software only.)

We also determined the deadline for completing the survey, tallying the results, and making the results available. The next challenge was compiling the results and determining which values our audience would be interested in, and the relationships between those values.

It was no small feat, but it was a rewarding experience.

Finally, the importance of completing a library salary survey canít be emphasized enough. The next time you see a library salary survey for your region, consider filling out one. You just never know when the results will come in handy for your next performance review. Be armed with facts and ready.


If you're interested, the results of the 1996 and 2003 surveys are available under the LTAIG section of the BCLA (British Columbia Library Association) website at

LTAIG is also presenting a third survey right now at So far we have received over 700 responses from across Canada and beyond. Deadline is April 1.

Everyone is welcome to fill out the survey; preliminary results will be up in a few weeks on the LTAIG web site:


Kristine Shum has worked for 14 years at the Vancouver Public Library in Vancouver, British Columbia. She currently works as a Library Assistant III in the Quick Information Service Department and is working towards a Library Technician Diploma at Langara College. She is also on the LTAIG executive. LTAIG is an interest group that falls under the umbrella of the British Columbia Library Association (BCLA).

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