MLA Survey of Personnel Characteristics, 2009
Report and Statistical Summary
Susannah Cleveland and Mark A. Puente
Status & Salaries
Activities & Membership
in early 2009 by Mark A. Puente and Susannah Cleveland, the Survey of Personnel
Characteristics was designed to allow for comparison with the survey of the
same name conducted by the Working Group Surveying Music Library Personnel
Characteristics in 1997.
Information from that survey, including the survey itself, the raw data,
and a summary of findings can be found in the MLA Clearinghouse (http://library.music.indiana.edu/tech_s/mla/index.htm),
and a summary by David Lesniaski appeared in the June 2000 issue of Notes (“A Profile on the Music Library Association Membership,” Notes, Second Series 56, no.4, pp. 894-906). For the complete rationale, background, and data summary
from the 2009 survey, please see the article on the 2009 survey scheduled to appear in Notes in mid-2011.
The survey was vetted and approved by
MLA’s Career Development and Services Committee and MLA’s Board of
Directors. We also sought and
received approval from our institutions’ respective human subjects review
boards (the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Bowling Green State
began this new study with several specific goals: to ascertain the degree to which MLA’s personnel profile has
changed in the last decade, comparing new data with what was collected in the
1997 iteration; to re-test some of those commonly held assumptions about the
profession, such as those related to salaries, gender, and status; to gather
data on the current demographic make-up of the association so that these data
could be compared to the results of the original survey in order to ascertain
trends in representation of ethnic, racial, and other minorities in music
librarianship; and to compare these data with national trends in the library
and information profession at large and to representation of underrepresented
groups in sister organizations and in the constituencies that MLA members serve.
While data gathered for the 1997
study was based on the distribution of paper surveys to a random sample of 300
MLA members and 80 non-members, data gathering for the 2009 survey depended primarily upon advertisement
on the MLA list serve (MLA-L) to recruit study participants for a web-based
survey. Of the 380 surveys
distributed in 1997, 245 usable surveys were returned for a 65% response rate;
213 of those were from MLA members, giving a 70% response rate in the member
category. Four hundred and one
people responded to the 2009 survey, for a total of 301 completed surveys from
MLA members; two people followed the link to the survey, but failed to give
informed consent and begin the survey. Because of the difference to the sampling method in 2009, a
direct comparison with this return rate is difficult. Basing the 2009 return rate on the approximate number of MLA-L
subscribers during the time the survey was conducted yields a significantly
lower return rate of 36.3% (301/1103).
Despite this difference, the total number of responses in 2009 was a bit
higher than the number of responses in 1997 (401 compared to 246, an increase
of 88%). The survey was
open for responses between January 30, 2009 and March 16, 2009.
Simple analyses of results were completed using native
Survey Monkey tools, while data for more complicated analyses were exported
into Microsoft Excel and CSV files and analyzed using SPSS software with the
very generous assistance of David Green from the Association of Research
Libraries. The raw data is
available as Excel files (one filtered for MLA members, one not filtered) for
researchers wishing to conduct further analysis. Please see our Data Re-Use Policy for more details.
301 member respondents report holding, in total, 475 completed music degrees,
along with 5 diplomas. Of the completed music degrees, 31 are doctorates
(PhD, DMA, EdD), 187 are master’s degrees (MM, MME, or MA), and 256 are
bachelor’s degrees (BM, BA, or BS). An
additional 65 people report completing coursework in music without
completing a degree.
The most common major by far – at any level – is
musicology or music history (43% of respondents) with instrumental performance
as the next common major (29%). A steep
drop follows before the next categories:
music education (8%), vocal performance (7%), music composition (6%),
music theory (5%), ethnomusicology (2%), music administration (1%), church
music (1%), and music technology (>1%).
No respondents report having majored in music therapy or conducting, the
other choices on the survey. This
distribution is similar at undergraduate and graduate levels to those in
1997. In both studies, music education
is a much more common major for undergraduate degrees than it is for graduate
degrees of our members.
301 member respondents collectively hold 278 professional degrees or
certifications in library and information science and/or archives. Most
of these – 61% of member respondents– are ALA-accredited degrees in library
science, while an additional 29% of respondents indicated that they had
completed an ALA-accredited degree in library science with a music specialization.
Only two people report having archival certification. In 1997 69% of members reported
holding an ALA-accredited degree in library science, while 13% reported
holding an ALA-accredited degree in library science with a music
specialization. Respondents could make multiple selections in both surveys.
Almost 25% of members report having an additional degree
at the bachelor’s or master’s level in subjects other than music or library
science, comparable to approximately 24% in 1997.
9% of respondents are fluent or near fluent in at least one language other than
English. Thirty-five percent have
moderate reading or speaking ability, 30% have some reading or speaking
ability, and 20% have basic or bibliographic knowledge. Fewer respondents also have fluency in
additional languages, though quite a few have reading and/or bibliographic
knowledge of second and third languages as well. The most common language known to members was
German (77%), followed by French (67%), Italian (32%), Spanish (29%), Latin
(9%), Russian (6%), Hebrew (2%), and Japanese (1%). Less than 1% of members reported knowledge of
Arabic and Chinese. While these rankings
are similar to those in 1997, the number of people with knowledge of
seems to have dropped significantly throughout the decade.
member respondents, the majority, almost 91%, works in a library and/or
archive. Students make up 4% of the reported membership, and retirees
make up almost 3%. One percent of respondents
reported being unemployed at the time of the survey. The remaining
members are divided between employment in “Other music industry,” “The library
commercial sector,” and other environments, such as those who are music
professors, composers, and musical directors. This overall data reveals a
marked change from 1997 when 83% of members reported working in a library
and/or archive, and 13% were retired, though part of this difference might
result from the fact that in that survey, respondents were able to choose
multiple options – and 18% did – while they were asked to select only one
status in the 2009 version.
over 88% of member respondents who are librarians work in academic or
conservatory libraries, up considerably from 59% of respondents in 1997.
Almost 7% work in public libraries (compared to 13%), 2.2% work in governmental
libraries (compared to 1.5%), and 1.5% work in archives or special collections
not affiliated with an academic institution or public library (compared to
8.1%). Few members – less than 1%
– work in school libraries with an identical figure for orchestra
libraries, while both of these categories contained just over one percent of
members in 1997. Many differences in the
numbers between the data on this question can likely be attributed to the ability to
choose multiple categories (say, employment in an academic library and
employment in an archive or special collection) in 1997, while we requested
that respondents only choose one category in 2009.
members working in academic libraries, approximately 50% work in
doctoral-degree-granting institutions, almost 29% work in institutions with
master’s and/or post-baccalaureate programs, and almost 22% work in
undergraduate-only institutions. This distribution is comparable to data
from 1997, when approximately 50% of members worked in doctoral-degree-granting
institutions, 34% worked in institutions with master’s and/or
post-baccalaureate programs, and 19% worked in undergraduate-only
Slightly fewer members now work in state-supported
institutions – just over 53% compared with 55% in 1997 – with just over 40%
(compared to 36%) in private institutions and 15% (compared to 21%) in
conservatory libraries. Again, respondents to the 1997 survey could select
multiple choices on this question, so the comparisons are not absolute. The majority of academic librarians – almost
62% – work at institutions with more than 10,000 students, the largest
enrollment option included in the survey.
in 2009 reported similar distribution to their 1997 counterparts between having
duties primarily related to music (69%), split between music and other subjects
(25%), and not primarily related to music (6%).
The distribution in 1997 was 60%, 26%, and 14%, respectively.
Likewise, the locations of music collections
have been largely static, with one notable reduction: the number of music libraries within a larger
collection, but with their own service points.
2009 data show that 21% of respondents work in an
integrated collection with no separate service point for music, 24% work in a
separate music, media, or performing arts collection housed within a larger
collection, and 55% work in a physically separate branch music and/or
performing arts library. In 1997, these
numbers were 28%, 43%, and 58%, respectively.
In both cases, several people responded that they work in a central
cataloging department while music materials may be housed in a branch library
or other separate location. Several 2009 respondents also commented on having
separate locations for different parts of their collections, such as storing
recordings in a specialized music library space while integrating books with
The most common primary responsibility held by members is collection development (144 members report this as a primary responsibility), followed by supervision, then reference, library instruction, administration, cataloging, and so on. Conservation and circulation are common secondary responsibilities for our members.
Status & Salaries
the last study, the percentage of respondents with faculty status has risen to
almost 42% from 33% in 1997. The largest
group of members working in academic libraries – just over 44% – is considered professional staff.
Almost 17% of members are permanent faculty without tenure status, while almost
26% are tenured or tenure-track faculty, up slightly from the 25% of tenured or
tenure-track faculty in 1997.
Approximately 3% were in temporary employment, and 6% of members report
being classified or paraprofessional staff.
We used different categories for status, rather than terms of
employment, so other comparisons are difficult, but it is possible that some of
these changes are attributed to the increase in the number of academic librarians.
members who answered the question about how many hours are assigned to his or
her position – 29 people skipped it – 81% indicated that their position was
full time, defined as 37 hours or more per week. This figure is down 8%
from the corresponding figure in 1997.
those who are currently employed full time, the largest percentage – almost 42%
– earn an annual salary between $40,001 and $50,000 or between $50,001 and
$60,000. Below that, almost 2% earn less
than $20,000, 3% earn between $20,001 and $30,000, and just over 11% earn
between$30,001 and $40,000. At the upper
end, 19% of respondents earn a salary in the $60,001- $70,000 range, 11% earn a
salary in the $70,001-$80,000 range, almost 6% earn a salary in the $80,001-
$90,000 range, and almost 3% earn a salary in the $90,001-$100,000 range. Almost 5% earns over $100,000.
overall rate of unionization is almost identical to that ten years ago – almost
22% compared to 21% in 1997. The number of unionized academic librarians has
been stable at around 20% while the rate of unionization amongst public
librarian members climbed to 72% from 60%.
This increase makes little difference to the overall rate of
unionization because of the decrease to members working in public libraries in
the 2009 survey.
for union members trend higher than those for non-union members. The
largest portion of union members, 22%, have a salary in the range of
$60,000-$70,000 while non-union members are situated most solidly in the area
Likewise, there is a slight (though not statistically significant) correlation
between education and salary levels. Current top salaries for members with only an MLIS are around $50,001-$60,000
while current top salaries for those who have at least another master’s degree in addition to an MLIS are around $80,001-$90,000. There are outliers in
both groups, but those with the second master’s degree had higher salaries in
the aggregate. In keeping with 1997, there
is still a strong correlation between salary and administrative duties; almost
24% of those with primary administrative duties ear between $60,000 and
$70,000, followed by the next largest group in this category who earn between
$70,000 and $80,000. Region still has some effect on
salary, with jobs in the Northeast paying the most, jobs in the south paying
the least, and jobs in the Midwest and West/Southwest situated in between. There seems
to be no significant correlation between gender and salary.
Activities & Membership
MLA members report sustained involvement in the organization with almost 48%
maintaining membership for 10 years or longer.
Just over 4% have been MLA members for less than a year, 29% have been
members between 1 and 5 years, 19% between 5 and 10 years, 26% for 10-20
years, and 22% for more than 20 years.
attribute several different factors to encouraging them to join and remain
active in MLA. Most important is contact with other members of the
profession, followed closely by conference attendance. Access to Notes, institutional promotion, the MLA Newsletter, and career advisory
services are ranked next in descending order of importance. Respondents also list playing with the big
band, the usefulness of MLA-L, access to continuing education, assistance with
music cataloging, and the closeness of friendships formed as reasons for their
MLA involvement. These priorities mirror
those from 1997.
importance of these benefits does shift fairly predictably based on the number
of years that people have been MLA members, a pattern that mirrors the priorities seen in 1997. Notes subscriptions are considered very important factors for MLA
membership to those with more than 20 years of MLA membership – almost 43% list
this as a very important factor – while members with less than a year list Notes access as either very important or
somewhat important. In between, those with
membership longer than one year but less than 20 rank the importance of Notes between somewhat important and
slightly less than very important.
The MLA Newsletter is considered somewhat
important by all members aside from those who have been members between five
and ten years, who rank it slightly lower.
Career advisory services – such as the Résumé Review Service or the Placement Service –
are ranked as very important for those who have been members for less than a year,
not important for those who have been members for more than 20 years, and
somewhat important for everyone else.
Opportunities for mentoring or being mentored follows almost the same
distribution, with the exception that members from between one and five years
rank these opportunities as very important, as do our brand-new
members. Contact with other members of
the profession is considered very important for members at all levels, as is
conference attendance. Institutional
promotion is generally unimportant for new members and those who have been
members for more than 20 years, very important for those with 5-10 years of MLA
members, and somewhat important for others.
who have not joined MLA or who have let their membership lapse at any time cite
a variety of reasons. Foremost is the
cost of membership, followed by change in employment, then the sense that MLA’s
offerings are not relevant to specific professional goals. Less important reasons include overlap with
membership in other professional organizations – either music- or
library-related – or duplication between chapter- and national-level
are also active in many different organizations. The highest level of
involvement (74%) is in state or regional library associations, which include
state or regional MLA chapters. In 1997,
MLA chapters were counted separately, but 65% of members indicated involvement
in their local MLA chapter with 27% of members reporting involvement in state
or regional library associations, presumably beyond their MLA chapter, though
not definitively. Fifty-four percent of
2009 respondents are members of other national library or archival associations,
such as the American Library Association, the Association for Recorded Sound
Collections, or the Society of American Archivists, up slightly from 50% in
1997. Almost 28% are involved with systems users groups like III Users’ Group
or MOUG, comparable to 24% in 1997.
Fewer MLA members (24%) are also members of scholarly music associations
like the American Musicological Association, than they were in 1997, when the
level was 37%, while involvement in performers or composers organizations (16%)
has changed less from the 18% level in 1997.
types of scholarly activities undertaken by members have remained somewhat
constant since 1997, although the levels of individual participation in these
activities seems to have risen. The most common scholarly activity among MLA
members is presenting papers or poster sessions; 79% of members noted having
done this in 2009, while 56% of respondents indicated that they had presented papers at national or
regional conventions in 1997.
Publishing short works, like articles, book chapters, or encyclopedia articles,
was the second most common activity, undertaken by 71% of the membership,
compared with 56% in 1997. Publishing
reviews follows next with 60% of members having participated, compared with 49%
in 1997. The next most common
activities, following the same order as in 1997, were teaching or leading
sessions or workshops, editing books, journals, or newsletters, and publishing
members appear to be very active in creative activities as well as scholarly
ones. 92% of respondents report having
given a recital (32% in 1997), 37% report appearing on a recording, video, or
radio/television broadcast (18% in 1997), 30% have received grants,
commissions, or other awards for their creative activities (33% in 1997), and
6% have published compositions (6% in 1997).
One key difference between these numbers might be that in 2009, there
was less emphasis on reporting participation in these creative activities as
coinciding with a professional career, while the 1997 survey explicitly
described them as things that one would include on a professional resume or
rankings of activities for both scholarly and creative activities differ little
between public and academic librarians, though public librarians seem more
likely to have published reviews than to have published or edited articles or
books. Likewise, only one public
librarian reports having received grants or commissions for creative works, and
none report having published compositions. Lesniaski reports no significant difference between these two groups, but
again, the fewer respondents from public libraries in 2009 might have
influenced these findings.
the 301 respondents, almost 62% were female while just over 38% were
male. This represents a shift from the 1997 study in which 55% of members
were female and 45% were male. The current
membership is concentrated most heavily in the age groups of 41-50 years old
(almost 26% of membership) and 51-60 (just over 27% of membership). We
used different age ranges than in the previous study, but the distribution was
similar, with the two largest groups in 1997 being 35-44 (25%) and 45-54 (34%).
the 2009 study, 95% of MLA members indicated that they were of “White” origin;
in the 1997, the corresponding category, “European/Anglo American heritage,”
accounted for 93% of respondents.
(There is some discrepancy in the reporting of this number between the
Notes article, the “Profile” in the
MLA Clearinghouse, and the “Data Summary,” also in the Clearinghouse.
and the “Profile” both report 88% of members responding that they were
European/Anglo American descent with 2% not responding, while the “Data
reports 93% of members indicating European/Anglo American descent with
comment on the rest of the racial distribution.). While this initial figure shows an increase in this particular demographic, the
remaining 5% did show slightly greater diversity: 3.4% of respondents
selected Latino (compared to 1% Hispanic/Hispanic American in 1997), 1% Native American, including Alaskan (equal to 1997),
1.3% Asian (3% in 1997), .7% African /African American (0 in 1997), .3% Pacific
Islanders or Native Hawaiians (0 in 1997), and 1.7% other (2% in 1997). The size of
samples in both studies, however, means that the increases in the
African/African American and Pacific Island groups only account for three
people and could not be considered statistically significant.
distribution of sexual preference shifted a bit from the 1997 numbers. Almost
82% of respondents who answered this question in 2009 indicated their sexual
preference/orientation as heterosexual, compared with 86% in 1997. Just
under 15% identified as lesbian/gay, compared with 11% earlier, and 3.5%
identified as bisexual in 2009, compared with 2% in 1997. While this question
was frequently skipped (17 respondents, or 5.6% of people who completed the
survey skipped this question), the no-answer rate was lower than 1997, when 10%
of respondents opted not to answer this question.
number of MLA members who reside in the United States has changed little since
1997 – just over 96% compared with 97% in 1997 – and no members reported
working anywhere but the U.S. or Canada in either study.
members working in the U.S. who indicated in which state they worked, the
geographic distribution was not significantly different than in the last study
with 35% in the Northeast (37% in 1997), 27% in the Midwest (24% in 1997), 25%
in the West/Southwest (22% in 1997), and 14% in the South (17% in 1997). We used roughly the same geographic
distribution that was used in 1997:
Northeast: ME, MA, RI, CT, VT, NH,
NY, NJ, PA, MD, DE, DC (98, or 35% of respondents)
Midwest: OH, IN, MI, IL, MO, IA, MN, WI, SD, ND, NE,
KS (76, 27%)
West/Southwest: WA, OR, CA, ID, MT, WO, UT, CO, OK, TX, NM,
AZ, NV, AK, HI (70, 25%)
South: VA, NC, SC, GA, FL, AL, MS,
TN, KY, WV, AK, LA (40, 14%)
Cleveland is the Head Librarian of the Music Library and Sound Recordings Archives at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, OH. Mark A. Puente is the Director of Diversity Programs at the
Association of Research Libraries in Washington, D.C.