How many librarians are there? How many library school graduates?

I’ve discussed numbers of library school graduates vs. total librarians before, but wanted to give you guys a few more numbers. Keep in mind that these are rough estimates at best: we’re dealing with large numbers, and everyone uses data to serve their organization’s goals, from the American Library Association, Library Journal, the library schools, and the census, to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. I’ve tried to be fair and comprehensive, but I’m sure that even I have a bias. So, please do check and cite the original data, while citing me for any graphs you use.

The Library Journal Placements & Salaries Survey

First off, Stephanie Maatta & the Library Journal run a yearly Placement & Salaries Survey. It’s great, and the reports are useful. I’ve made my graphics below from LJ’s 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009 (& here) and 2008 data. Often, they only reported partial data or estimates for grads in that year; the numbers in italics are my calculation given other data for that year:

LJ Placements and Salaries 2008 2014

This suggests that in the last 7 years, almost 40,000 Americans have gained an ALA-accredited MLS, Continue reading →

The Librarian Survey: Working with Results in Excel

It’s a snowy weekend as I draft this with a cup of hot cocoa in hand :-) I went over my survey of 385 young librarians before, as well as critiqued my own methods. In this post, I’ll try working with Excel data. Please bear in mind that a) I’m blogging my own learning curve, and would love your feedback, and b) I got responses from only 1% of the 40,000+ MLS graduates in the past ten years alone. This all points to a need for more discussion, and more people exploring the data :-)

Working in Excel: Cleaning the Data

I’m going to work with the 2014 Recent MLS Grads survey, so I hope you’ve reviewed the basic results and survey methods. If you haven’t run numbers in Excel before, do pause and read School of Data’s intro to data in Excel, or better yet, the Data Journalism Handbook.

Should we be running data in Excel? Well, it’s clunky compared to other statistical tools, as Eva Goldwater at UMass points out: it takes a lot of time, doesn’t like missing values, only lets you do simple stuff, and limits how you can re-arrange and visualize data. But on the plus side, you’ve probably used it, and can find a computer that runs it easily.

The Glamorous Life of a Zine Librarian [59/365]

Descriptive Statistics in Excel: Librarian Salaries

You’ll see below that I asked individuals to report their salary a) before library school, b) during library school, c) 6 months after, d) 2 years after, and e) 5 years after MLS graduation. To get these numbers, I cleaned up punctation from the numeric data. By looking at the raw data, I noted that some responses seem to be typing errors (an annual salary of $430,000? Was that $43,000… or am I working in the wrong library?).

For descriptive statistics, I copied non-$0 salary data on a new page, then ran descriptive statistics on each column (data tab –> descriptive stats). What you see took a half hour of fiddling to produce. I’m suspicious of how outliers may have impacted the results, even using the median, but I like the detailed statistics produced:

Descriptive statistics in Excel - young librarian salary data

Salary before MLS, during studies, and 6 months/2 years/5 years after.

Above, then, we see a median wage of $22,900 before grad school, $18,000 during school, $35,000 six months after graduation, $40,000 two years after, and $47,000 five years after. Note that the ‘count’ of responses drops after two years out, due to the recent grads, and also that these statistics only include those who had a non-zero salary. Including unemployed folk in the totals would make it a bit lower! Continue reading →

Surveys for Librarians 101: Evaluating the Data

I recently surveyed 385 young librarians on Facebook about their job-seeking experience, and reviewed the initial results here. In this post, I’d like to reflect on what I learned about online survey methods and cleaning data, before going on to discuss results in more detail in my post on using Excel.

Survey Methods: Using the SurveyGizmo Software

First, I used SurveyGizmo for this. Right now they have a free basic account, and offer 50% off any other level of account for current students, or 25% off for teachers/nonprofits.

To be honest, I like SurveyGizmo because I have a pretty sweet legacy account, and I’ve worked with it on a number of prior projects. If you’re a library student or academic librarian, you may well have an institutional subscription to Qualtrics or something more comprehensive, so ask around to see if you can use full-featured software for free, or share your favorite free option in the comments below!

Survey Methods: Check the Mobile View

mobile view

One thing I regret is that I didn’t try out the mobile version before going live. SurveyGizmo has a responsive design that looks good on a smartphone, and I assumed that would be fine. Continue reading →

Results from the Facebook Survey of Recent MLS Grads 2014

Where do young librarians end up? In conversation with the ALA Think Tank group on Facebook this fall, it’s evident that recent grads struggle to understand the job market and whether their experiences are comparable to others. Library Journal gives out yearly stats on salary and placement, but it doesn’t ask what we want to know: how many jobs are recent grads applying to? How many jobs are out there? How long does it take to get a job? If people leave the library field, where do they go? What could we do differently?

So! I set up a quick four-page survey and got 385 responses. I’m calling it the “Facebook Survey of Recent MLS Grads” to emphasize it’s biased sample and casual nature. It’s a good experiment, but please don’t cite these numbers without reading this full post plus a methodological critique. You can also view the original survey prompts here. And zoom in (Ctrl+ on PC, Cmd+ on Mac) or click through to Flickr to see these screenshots more clearly:

Where did you go to library school?

These are summary charts from SurveyGizmo; click through for a larger image. I first asked which MLS program people graduated from. The most common schools, with 20-25 respondents each, are here:

1 schools responding

Oh, you want the full details? Don’t say I didn’t warn you… Continue reading →

Lor on marriage: “Let’s not get New-Age-Hindu Here!”

“Bible Study Love,” by marynbtol

A few years ago:

I saunter up to an apartment building and a man rings me in. Inside, the apartment door is open; shoes lie scattered in a wood-paneled entryway. A large woman sits on the sofa,  and a short one introduces herself. Amy* then follows her infant son around the room, patiently picking up blocks as he scatters them. I serve myself tea and chat with the women, smile at their toddlers, nod to the married men with wives back in their home country. There are just two single women here: myself and Carrie.

We sing a few songs. And then Lorence* starts the bible study:

“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord…”

His text is Ephesians 5:22-33, a contentious, 2000-year-old divine word Continue reading →

Data Files: getting information from websites with Kimono

Have you ever wanted to grab information from a website but found it time-consuming to copy-paste everything? Well, here’s your way around that!

A few weeks ago I ran across an extension of Chrome that lets you gather and transform information from webpages. Normally, this sort of thing requires some technical skill, but Kimono makes it easy for almost anyone to pull and reuse what’s posted online. Here, I’ll show you how to use Kimono to pull small sets of information from a single webpage in a structured form, either in RSS or Excel formats:

Getting the Data

Let’s suppose I’d like to get regular updates on news concerning Augusta, the state capital of Maine. Unfortunately, the Morning Sentinel doesn’t provide an RSS feed (that I can see) for just one town. I can narrow it down to get 100 articles about all of Central Maine each day… but who has time to read that?

1. So, I can go to Kimono Labs and Continue reading →

World Values Survey: Kazakhs and Americans

I’ve been taking a free course on statistical inference online, which mentioned the World Values Survey. For this survey, interviewers ask people about religious, political, sexual, community, and life values. I haven’t looked at whether sample size, selection, fear of interviewers, or bias may affect the results. I suspect there are some issues in that area: for instance, Kazakhs were asked if elections are fair and if officials take bribes, while Americans were not. However, it’s still a great survey to use for thinking about social values, especially if you’re already familiar with the cultures and histories involved.

Grandmother in Kazakhstan, by Scott Koch

Below, I’ve cherry-picked data and paraphrased liberally. “Lies, damn lies,” and all that… In other words, I’m listing a few interesting differences (e.g. 2/3 of Kazakhs think something, but only 1/2 of Americans agree). But in 500 other instances, Americans and Kazakhs agree rather closely. So please don’t cite these extracts until you look at the full data yourself!

Kazakh and American Perspectives on Life

What’s important in life? Kazakhstan America
Family is very important 92% 91%
Friends are very important 48% 54%
vs… Friends are not so important 12% 5%
Work is very important 62% 36%
Religion is very important 22% 40%

Kazakhs and Americans both value family strongly. Kazakhs are more willing to verbalize that work is important to life (perhaps because good careers are harder to find in a still-developing economy), while American culture leads us to say we value friends and religion just as much. As we’ll see below, religion is a more active part of family life in Continue reading →

Баня парит, здоровье дарит: a morning at the Keremet Banya in Astana

March 21st, First Day of Spring

Annie calls at 10am, and I roll over to pick up the phone.

“Banya, at 10:45, you coming?”

“I… maybe,” I say, gravelly-voiced. “Call you back in five.”

I contemplate the possibilities. Sleep in and lounge around having coffee all day, or undertake an awkward naked Russian bathing experience?

Because it’s the spring holiday, I decide on the latter. SMS: I’ll be there.


I’ve lived in Kazakhstan for three years, yet this is my first “banya experience,” as the expats say.

Banya is a Russian word that simply means bath. In Mongolia, our “banya” was just a small building in the town center with private shower stalls, because most locals had no warm shower at home. More often, the post-Soviet banya is a group experience between same-gender friends or family members. I’ve met a few ardent fans: the colleague who voluntarily hangs out in northern Siberia in the winter (!!), as well as my bubbly housemate, Zara.

This morning, I walk into Zara’s room and ask if she’ll go with me. She’s on the sofa watching TV and tapping her tablet screen in search of spring fashion photos on Vkontakte.

“It’s Friday!” she reprimands me. “Muslims don’t go to the bath on Friday!”

Her view Continue reading →

Scholarships for Kazakhstan citizens to study abroad in Europe or America

I’m often asked by young Kazakhs how they can study abroad, and I don’t have an easy answer. It’s a long process and sometimes you have to apply again and again to get funding to study in America or Europe. I left Kazakhstan a month ago, and decided not to post this article—but then yesterday, someone Facebook messaged me to ask about studying abroad!

(Admissions photo by Don Shall, on Flickr)

(Admissions photo by Don Shall, on Flickr)

So, I will share what I know. Below are ideas on how to find and apply for scholarships to study in America or Europe. Continue reading →

Playing with God and Stalin on Google NGrams

I’ve just finished browsing Uncharted, by Erez Aiden & Jean-Baptiste Michel (2013). In this book, the authors describe how they convinced Google to create the Ngram Viewer. This is a great tool that lets you analyze word frequency across millions of books. It’s a powerful set of data that you can play with fore free–so try it out! (If you get confused, this guide will help.)

For instance, here’s a graph of how often cool professions are mentioned in English-language books over time, demonstrating, if nothing else, that experts get referred to with a toss-away label such as ‘the anthropologist’ far too often:

Continue reading →

Employment Numbers for Librarians and MLS Graduates

Librarian, by Joachim S. Müller

If you’re a librarian, you’re somewhat curious about the broad picture of our profession: How many librarians are there? Where do they work? Which sectors are growing? How will the job market change over time?

For broad-scale questions, it’s helpful to analyze broad data. A few months ago, a friend suggested that I take a look at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2013 data on employment. You can find this immense Excel file here: just select “All Data” and “XLS” to download. It’s around 75MB and 450,000 rows long, so prepare yourself: if you haven’t yet learned filters and pivot tables in Excel, stop right now and read the short CIJ handbook on data journalism here — it’s an easy and effective introduction to simple data manipulation in Excel.

How Many Librarians are in each State? 

The BLS categorizes American librarians as:

Naturally, more populated American states have more library Continue reading →