Tuesday, March 23, 2010

CALL Survey: Law Libraries & Job Satisfaction

The results of the CALL/ACBD survey, If You Could Do It All Again: Job Satisfaction and Law Library Workers in Canada, have just been published. The results support what a lot of us know anecdotally - law library workers are a pretty satisfied group. In fact, almost 88% of respondents fell into the 'satisfied with their jobs' category.

Published in the latest Canadian Law Library Review (Volume 34, No. 5, Winter 2009), the survey addressed an area that has rarely been studied. While salary surveys within the law library field are done regularly, along with the job satisfaction of library workers in general, the survey's authors found that little study in fact had been done of job satisfaction within law libraries, specifically.

From the introduction:
"The authors' working theory was that such individuals do, for the most part, enjoy their jobs, but we wondered how they faced everyday problems in terms of staffing, space constraints, budgets, work pressures, and so on. We also wondered whether some types of law libraries might differ from others in how these problems manifest themselves."
The results didn't hold out a lot of surprises - after all, position turnover has been historically low compared to other professional groups, and law library types tend to be pretty quick to vocalize (both positively and negatively) among colleagues. However, there are some interesting findings that indicate age and type of law library do seem to play a role in certain areas of satisfaction.

Here are some of the highlights:

Most & Least Satisfying Aspects of the Job
  • Asked what the most satisfying aspects of their jobs were, respondents' top two answers were Autonomy/Freedom and Challenge/Work itself
  • The top two least satisfying aspects were Physical environment (i.e., office, library space) and salary.
Type of Library
  • Academic law library workers feel the time-crunch: 46.1% felt they did not have enough hours in the day to get everything done
  • Courthouse library workers were most likely to say they were satisfied or strongly satisfied that they were performing meaningful work
  • Government library workers were most likely to feel that co-workers have little concern for them as individuals
[Steve's comment: I was hard pressed to pull anything out of the findings that was overly negative regarding private law libraries. ]

  • Workers older than 61 were more likely than any other age range to feel their workload was fair
  • Workers under 30 were most likely to be dissatisfied with their level of compensation
The survey was circulated to CALL's listserv and to several regional law library associations (VALL included) in September 2008. The whole article is well worth the read (for those who don't receive it in print, CLLL is available on HeinOnline).

Congratulations to survey authors Nancy McCormack and Nicole Eva for their fine research and reporting!


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