At the Ref Desk (1/2/18): 1st shift of the year! Waiting for the question: 'Do you have any research articles on 2018?' :-) [more...]

Woodworking vs. Library Science at the University of Alabama

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sat, 12/4/10 (12:43pm)

The old joke in the Soviet Union used to be: 'We pretend to work and they pretend to pay us' -- Soviet currency being completely worthless outside its own borders. So what can I say about the position of "Digital Repository Coordinator" at the University of Alabama (UA) advertised recently on the LITA list? First, it's not even listed as "Coordinator" on UA's own HR site (or on LibJobs for that matter) but rather under the slightly more dignified title of "Digital Repository Manager". So somewhere in between, there must have been a reclassification.

But whatever it's called, the job description is the same: the lucky-ducky who lands this position must demonstrate "expertise" in MS Basic, Perl or Python, have some knowledge of either JavaScript, Java or PHP and of course, be able to design and interact with SQL databases. These are the "minimum qualifications". "Preferred qualifications" include a knowledge of XML, XSLT, diacritics and encoding issues as well as metadata standards such as EAD and MODS. An academic degree in Computer Science would be nice plus some experience in programing.

Annual salary: $26,062.40.

When someone pointed out that $26k might be a tad low, the original poster defended the rate saying "technical skills have historically been paid little in academia". On the bright side, she added, "we don't require employees to work 60-80 hour weeks as is common for programmers in the wider marketplace."

I s'pose not being required to work "60-80 hour weeks" might be a consolation for making $26k a year -- but I hardly think it's an incentive to stay very long with the employer. In fact, if I were making that little, you better believe I'd be carrying off everything that wasn't nailed down at the end of the day (joke). In any case, I did have a look at some of the other jobs available on the UA HR site -- just to get a feeling of what the prevailing wage is. And wouldn't you know, they've got a position as "Cabinet Maker III" paying close to $23 an hour -- or more than double what the library is offering for the position of "Digital Repository Manager".

So what's the moral of this tale? Woodworking beats Library Science -- at least at the University of Alabama. (And Thank God I've got a background in both.)