Bureau of Labor Statistics

Check it out: Projections for library occupations

| April 2019

Who can help you find books, digital archives, and other resources? Library workers, of course.

Librarians, library technicians, and other library workers connect people with information. A core focus of their work involves organizing, preserving, and sharing library collections with the public. But these workers also engage with their communities in other ways: developing children’s programming, facilitating author visits, and referring patrons to government services, to name a few.

You may find them doing all of these tasks in a variety of settings, not just public libraries. And, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects opportunities in library occupations through 2026.

The charts and tables that follow highlight projected openings, employment, and more in library-related occupations.

Openings projected

Occupational openings indicate how many opportunities are expected each year, on average, over the projections decade for people entering an occupation. These openings arise from projected labor force exits, occupational transfers, and employment growth.

As chart 1 shows, BLS projects most library occupations to have higher-than-average rates of labor force exits from 2016 to 2026. Workers might exit the labor force for a variety of reasons, such as to retire or to care for family.  

View Chart Data

Chart 1. Labor force exit rates in library occupations, 2016–26 annual average, projected
Occupation Labor force exit rate, 2016–26 annual average

Library technicians

7.9%

Library assistants, clerical

7.9

Librarians

5.5

Library science teachers, postsecondary

3.7

Total, all occupations

4.7

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

In contrast, occupational transfer rates are projected to be lower than average in library occupations. (See chart 2.) Transfer rates measure when workers permanently leave one occupation for another. These low transfer rates may indicate that library workers are less likely than other workers to change occupations.

View Chart Data

Chart 2. Occupational transfer rates in library occupations, 2016–26 annual average, projected
Occupations Occupational transfer rate, 2016–26 annual average

Library assistants, clerical

6%

Library technicians

5.1

Library science teachers, postsecondary

3.8

Librarians

3.7

Total, all occupations

6.2

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Taken together, labor force exits, occupational transfers, and employment growth are projected to result in more than 45,000 openings each year, on average, in library occupations. As chart 3 shows, most openings for these occupations are expected to stem from workers leaving, rather than from newly created jobs.

View Chart Data

Chart 3. Library work: Openings from labor force exits, occupational transfers, and growth, 2016–26 annual average, projected
Occupations Labor force exits Occupational transfers Growth

Library assistants, clerical

8,700 6,600 1,000

Library technicians

8,200 5,300 900

Librarians

7,900 5,400 1,200

Library science teachers, postsecondary

200 200 --

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Employment and wages by occupation and industry

Of the occupations shown in table 1, wages for postsecondary library science teachers ($71,560) and librarians ($59,050) were above the median for all occupations ($38,640) in 2018. Postsecondary library science teachers had the smallest employment (6,000) in 2016, while librarians had the largest (138,200). And by 2026, librarians are projected to have 150,600 jobs.

Table 1.

View Chart Data

 Table 1. Library occupations: employment, 2016 and projected 2026, and wages, 2018
Occupation Employment, 2016 Employment, projected 2026 Median annual wage, 2018

Librarians

138,200 150,600 $59,050

Library assistants, clerical

104,300 114,100 26,500

Library technicians

99,200 108,200 34,040

Library science teachers, postsecondary

6,000 6,500 71,560

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Many librarians work in public libraries run by local governments, but that’s not the only place they are employed. Special librarians, such as law, medical, and corporate librarians, work in settings other than school and public libraries. As table 2 shows, the largest industry employer of librarians in 2016 was elementary and secondary schools. This industry is also expected to add the most jobs for librarians over the projections decade.

Table 2.

View Chart Data

 Table 2. Librarians by industry: employment, 2016 and projected 2026, and wages, 2018
Industry Employment, 2016 Employment, projected 2026 Median annual wage, 2018

Elementary and secondary schools

47,600 51,100 $60,780

Local government, excluding education and hospitals

41,100 44,100 53,060

Colleges, universities, and professional schools

25,900 28,900 64,130

Information

7,500 9,400 56,970

Junior colleges

4,800 5,100 63,550

State government, excluding education and hospitals

2,200 2,200 58,020

Federal government

1,500 1,500 87,200

Legal services

1,300 1,400 74,850

Hospitals

1,200 1,300 58,340

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

For more information

Read more about employment projections for library occupations, as well as hundreds of others, in the Occupational Outlook Handbook. To better understand the projections data, including occupational separations and projected growth, visit the Employment Projections site.

About the Author

Elka Torpey is an economist in the Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections, BLS. She can be reached at torpey.elka@bls.gov .

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Suggested citation:

Elka Torpey, "Check it out: Projections for library occupations," Career Outlook, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 2019.

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