January 27, 2022

Interesting! A New Article/Analysis: "Librarians in the U.S. from 1880-2009"

This article by Sydney Beveridge, Susan Weber and Andrew A. Beveridge was posted is from Social Explorer (an Oxford University Press Resource) and is accessible (free) via the OUPBlog.

The article is a “must read” (and loaded with charts) for anyone interested in U.S. library and librarian history.

Here are Three Paragraphs from the Article:

The U.S. Census first collected data on librarians in 1880, a year after the founding of the American Library Association. They only counted 636 librarians nationwide. Indeed, one respondent reported on his census form that he was the “Librarian of Congress.” The U.S. Census, which became organized as a permanent Bureau in 1902, can be used to track the growth of the library profession. The number of librarians grew over the next hundred years, peaking at 307,273 in 1990. Then, the profession began to shrink, and as of 2009, it had dropped by nearly a third to 212,742. The data enable us to measure the growth, the gender split in this profession known to be mostly female, and to explore other divides in income and education, as they changed over time.


Considering the nation today, the states with the largest librarian populations are: Pennsylvania, Illinois, New York, Texas and California. Meanwhile, the states with the highest concentrations of librarians (or librarians per capita) are: Vermont, D.C., Rhode Island, Alabama, New Hampshire.


Today, 83 percent of librarians are women, but in the 1880s men had the edge, making up 52 percent of the 636 librarians enumerated.  In 1930, male librarians were truly rare, making up just 8 percent of the librarian population.

Other Topics Covered:

  • Median Earnings
  • Gender and Education Wage Differences
  • Race
  • Education
  • Age
  • Public and Private

Direct to: “Librarians in the U.S. from 1880-2009”

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.