While attending a conference in Stanford, David Brier learned that California libraries had such a shortage of librarians that they were recruiting them from other countries.
Staff and news reports
Since Hawaii's market for librarians is not large enough to accommodate all the recent graduates, Brier suggested that the California library systems send recruiters here as well.
Next month, mainland recruiters will attend the Hawaii Library Association's annual conference for the second time.
For the past two years, about 38 percent of University of Hawaii library studies graduates have left for the mainland and other countries, according to Diane Nahl, chairwoman of the Library and Information Science Program. About 10 percent have gone to California.
However, while Hawaii has no shortage of librarians today, about half the librarians will reach retirement age over the next 10 years.
Nationally, nearly 58 percent of professional librarians will reach age 65 between 2005 and 2019, according to the 1990 census. More than 140,000 librarians work in public, school and academic libraries.
The median age of librarians is 47, one of the highest of any occupation. Many people choose librarianship as a second career.
State Librarian Virginia Lowell said Hawaii will not be spared from the librarian shortage. "By the end of this decade, half will be gone," she said. "We're very much interested in recruiting and retention issues."
However, until salaries reach parity with other states, it will be difficult to encourage them to stay here, she said.
A former Hawaii resident, Cora Iezza, 49, accepted a position at San Francisco's library this year. Although the cost of living there is even higher than Honolulu's, Iezza said she was so impressed by the library's commitment to the community that she had to say yes.
Iezza is also pleased with the pay. Entry-level librarians in San Francisco earn $53,508 a year, far higher than the national median of $34,000. San Jose librarians start about $50,000, but those in Oakland earn only $39,234.
Librarian salaries in Hawaii range from $32,700 to $53,750, with an average salary of $46,300.
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