Salary and Benefits

Compensation is often the hardest issue to deal with as a Board trustee. Although wages are a basic element in job satisfaction, low pay is a problem in the library field as a whole and particularly in rural areas where city and county budgets are tight. Nonetheless, it is up to the Board to try to ensure that the director receives a competitive salary and benefits. The director is a key factor in the quality of services a library can provide its community, and a director who is well satisfied with the position is likely to do a much better job of serving the community than one who is unhappy.

To determine if your director's salary should be increased, compare it to that provided by other libraries of the same size as well as to the compensation paid to department heads in other public and private organizations. If the salary is too low, talk to the appropriate government officials about increasing it. Perhaps more of the budget can be allocated to the director's salary, or the budget can be increased. It may take several attempts for your efforts to bear fruit.

Once the base salary of the director is improved, the Board should address raises and benefits. Cost of living raises are standard elements of a fair compensation plan. If the library is not part of a government compensation system, health insurance and/or retirement are other benefits to consider.

If the board is considering offering health insurance the best option is to investigate joining the city or county's insurance plans. The board will be able to take advantage of being a member of a larger pool. If that is not possible the board can also offer to give employees a certain dollar amount that is to be applied towards health insurance premiums. If the library is a member of the Chamber of Commerce it may be possible to join the chamber's health insurance pool. Contact the local chamber organization for more information.

The best option for retirement benefits is to explore being a part of Montana Public Employees Retirement System (PERS). To learn more about joining PERS please contact the Montana Public Employee Retirement Administration.

If the library simply cannot afford to offer standard raises and benefits, the Board can compensate the library director in non-monetary ways. Consider giving the director some time off with pay, for instance. Trustees can also always publicly acknowledge the director's hard work, as well as volunteer for projects that lighten the director's responsibilities.

The Board's efforts can make a big difference in the library director's working conditions. Remember: being an advocate for the library also means being an advocate for the director.