Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Library satisfaction

There is a new survey on job satisfaction at Library Journal, and it led me to ponder a library personnel issue: full-timers vs part-timers.  To put it in more understandable terms, there is plenty of gravy to go around, but it's not on everybody's mashed potatoes.

The only libraries I know are in New Jersey, so my conclusions are strictly about that state.  Benefits were generous at most libraries I've dealt with in 28 years of library administration.  For professionals, 20 days vacation to start, 15 paid holidays, 15 days of cumulative sick leave.  Add to this enrollment in the pension system, paid health insurance, and the availability of deferred tax accounts, and you have another 30-40 percent of non-taxable income.  Not bad.

Full-time non-professionals don't get quite as many vacation days, but otherwise the benefits are the same.  In addition, if your library has civil service status, you are virtually fireproof, except for egregious misbehavior.

For part-timers, nothing is guaranteed.  New Jersey insists that employees earning over a certain amount must be enrolled in the pension plan, unless they are temporary.  High school students, for example.  Under civil service rules, there are procedures for firing staffers, but they don't have to be fired, their hours can be cut to almost zero.  No vacation, no sick leave, no anything.  Libraries have been known to hire two employees who each work 20 hours a week so as to avoid offering benefits to either.  Their pay is abysmal, too.

This  is analogous to the faculty situation in universities, where tenured professors teach two courses each while adjuncts do all the heavy lifting.  The adjuncts, meanwhile, have about as much chance of gaining tenured status as they do of winning the lottery--no, make that the Irish Sweepstakes.

Is it any wonder that these serfs and vassals are joining unions to get a fair shake?

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