Chicago Public Library


Via the Beachwood Reporter, it seems that Ed Burke and Brendan Reilly have asked the city's librarians to forego a 3.5 percent raise in order to keep the libraries open six days a week, all part of the fight between City Hall and AFSCME, the union that represents library employees:

"We strongly urge you and your members to put on hold the pay raise for AFSCME library employees which, it should be noted, is one of the largest of any public employee pay raises," they wrote.

It's not too surprising that City Hall is looking to cut the library budget, since library systems around the country have been cut back during the recession—the NYPL recently fought off a proposed $40 million budget cut. But to put the salaries in context, I used current employee salaries from the city's data portal to calculater the average and median salaries for each department. Part-time jobs are included, like library page, foster grandmother, and student interns, so the average salaries are lower for some departments than you might guess (the fire department, for example, has fewer low-paid employees than the police department, which has many $15k/year crossing guards under its payroll). The CPL, whose main employees are required to have a master's, do in fact come in near the bottom (the average salary for the 328 librarians is $71,743; the median is $73,932).

And keep in mind that the library is funded in part by property taxes, which were funneled into TIF districts at an increasing rate during the previous decade.

I think a fair deal would be for AFSCME to agree to forego the raise if Burke offers to replace one of his police bodyguards (2009 cost: $600,000) with a librarian. If I could have public employees designated to follow me around, I could definitely use a librarian. Though admittedly I'm a heavy CPL user, with at least a couple books checked out at any given time. And a heavy supporter, through my regular, impressive fines ("I don't check books out… I lease." —Maria Bamford).

Fire Department: $87,481/$83,148
Water Management: $79,631/$74,880
Transportation: $77,436/$73,216
Fleet Management: $77,010/$84,032
Police Department: $76,401/$77,238
General Services: $72,386/$84,032
Law: $73,146/$67,224
Health: $71,651/$67,296
Aviation: $67,792/$70,408
Streets & San: $67,450/$65,894
Revenue: $60,292/$56,040
City Council: $55,139/$52,980
Public Library: $51,327/$54,564
OEMC: $49,785/$56,208
Family & Support: $41,113/$47,424


Photograph: mark.watmough (CC by 2.0)