November 18, 2014

Canada: Ontario Lets Libraries Shield Top Salaries

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From The Record (Kitchener, Ontario):

While local municipal libraries shield their top six salaries from view, the London, Ont., library is compelled by law to reveal its top two salaries for all to see.

This tells residents that in 2012 the London library paid its top bosses less than it paid them in 2007. In five years the library added no employees earning $100,000 or more.

“It’s one element for us to show that we’ve taken action to freeze top-line salaries,” said Josh Morgan, chair of the London Public Library. “There’s been a real atmosphere of fiscal restraint. For us, this is one way that the public can see what we’re doing, at least at the top-line level on salaries.”

Library boards in Kitchener, Cambridge and Waterloo prevent similar public scrutiny by choosing not to publish salaries on the list of government employees who earn six figures.

The provincial sunshine list — as it is known — is meant to shine a light on government salaries. Legislation allows local libraries to stay off the list because their provincial funding is too low to require disclosure.

This effectively gives librarians a free pass on the salary scrutiny that shines on police, firefighters, teachers, nurses, professors, municipal employees and other public servants.

A Record analysis reveals Ontario libraries typically choose to shield top salaries from scrutiny. The list of 88,412 government employees earning six figures in 2012 names 88 librarians at 13 libraries. Ontario has 263 municipal libraries. Most of those named work for the Toronto Public Library. It has to report salaries because it gets more than $1 million in provincial funding.

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Dan Carli agrees that letting the public see actual top salaries might help residents assess this. He chairs the Kitchener Public Library and supports putting salaries on the sunshine list if he can be persuaded there’s no significant downside.

“We are a well-managed organization,” he said. “We really have nothing to hide at all. And I think transparency is important.”

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Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.