Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Cost of Deselection (3): Wage Rates

The further I delve into a cost model for deselection, the more multi-faceted it becomes. There will be several more posts in the coming days/weeks. My plan is to use this blog to think through all facets, one step at a time. Once the salient issues have been parsed, I hope to synthesize all of the pieces into a simple, coherent model. Hope is that thing with feathers, right?

First, let's get organized about hourly staff costs. The basis of the following numbers: that old reference chestnut The Occupational Outlook Handbook, produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The following numbers are drawn from the 2010-2011 edition, but they are based on 2008 data. Given the economic situation since then, it seems unlikely the rates would have changed much. In the categories of Librarians, Library Technicians, and Library Assistants, I've used the segment entitled "Colleges, universities, and professional schools" -- this is an academic library cost model. Similar numbers are available for public and school libraries, but for now they are mercifully beyond our scope here.

As noted in yesterday's post, I've converted the annual Librarian salaries to an hourly rate, assuming a 40-hour work week. In all three categories, I've added 30% to the hourly rate to account for benefits, which BLS estimates at 29.2% of salary on average. For student workers, I've assumed that most libraries pay minimum wage ($7.25/hour) and that no benefits are involved; I've rounded up to $8 to account for higher wages paid to longer-serving students.

POSITION               HOURLY WAGE        HOURLY COST(w/ benefits)

Librarian                    $ 26.52                         $ 34.48

Library Technician     $ 15.91                         $ 20.68

Library Assistant        $ 12.92                         $ 16.80

Student Workers        $  8.00                          $  8.00

 These are median rates; i.e., the middle value in the distribution of salaries in these categories. This seems a reasonable level at which to build a conceptual model. Clearly wages will vary by region, and to some degree by specialty and longevity. Any application of the model could be modified to account for known variances. The main purpose here, however, is to identify the components of the process, estimate the time invested by each level of staff, and to establish a method for estimating overall costs and costs per volume.

Comments are welcome. Do these seem like reasonable rates on which to construct the cost model?

Links to related posts:


  1. I think you are pretty much on target (even for the medical field) but probably not for systems librarians-which I have benched as high as $72,000...BTW was at a RML meeting and heard you were at NLM looking at print collection workflow....we are hosting a meeting tomorrow on collaborative print retention with other HOM librarians-Janie Kaplan

  2. Hi Janie --

    That's an interesting point, and would have an especially strong effect in cases where it's difficult to extract data from the ILS. In our early projects this has varied quite a bit...Yes, looking at NLM workflows -- complicated place! Good luck with the meeting.