Tennessee Librarian Salary Guide - 2024


by LibrarianCertification.com Staff

Updated: November 3rd, 2023

School Librarians

How are school librarian salaries determined in Tennessee?

A school librarian’s salary in Tennessee is determined by the state’s allocation of funding and resources to both the school and its library. In most cases, school funding is determined by the area, the size of the school, and the number of students it is servicing. Normally a school librarians’ salary will be determined by that funding, as well as by how many years they have spent in that position and what their academic level and background are. 

How can one increase their salary?

With school libraries, the only certain way of increasing your salary is by staying in that position for a long period of time. Normally, school librarians have a gradual increase in their salary every year that is often dictated by their contracts. If you are starting a new position as a school librarian then it might be worth considering negotiating the rate of increase ahead of time if that is an option for you. 

Librarians and Media Specialists Salaries in urban areas of Tennessee

Metro Area# EmployedMean Salary
Chattanooga, TN-GA120$59,060
Clarksville, TN-KY80$75,540
Cleveland, TN40$50,870
Jackson, TN40$54,010
Johnson City, TN80$55,450
Kingsport-Bristol-Bristol, TN-VA120$59,340
Knoxville, TN340$55,020
Memphis, TN-MS-AR440$59,570
Morristown, TN30$52,910
Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TN660$57,440
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics - 2021

Librarians and Media Specialists Salaries in rural areas of Tennessee

Metro Area# EmployedMean Salary
West Tennessee nonmetropolitan area160$49,820
South Central Tennessee nonmetropolitan area100$51,920
North Central Tennessee nonmetropolitan area120$50,220
East Tennessee nonmetropolitan area120$53,990
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics - 2021

Government or non-profit resources within Tennessee providing assistance for better school librarian pay

The main school librarian association in Tennessee is known as TASL, which stands for Tennessee Association of School Librarians. Through this association, you will be able to advocate for better pay for school librarians. You can also become a member of the Tennessee Library Association which advocates for better pay for all librarians in the state.  

Public Librarians

How are public librarian salaries determined in Tennessee?

The salary of a public librarian is determined by the funds allocated to the library that they are employed in. Much like with school libraries, these funds tend to be determined by the size of the library, the area that it is in, the collection that it has and the number of people it is servicing. The salary of each librarian is also determined by their educational background, the years that they have been employed, and the position that they hold within the library. 

How can one increase their salary?

One of the best ways to increase your salary when working in a public library is to aim for a more specialized position or a promotion. Larger public libraries will have special collections, archives, or executive positions that you may be eligible to take on depending on your level of education and the time that you have spent there. You can also choose to switch to a larger library where you will have more potential for growth. 

Government or non-profit resources within Tennessee providing assistance for better public librarian pay

If you want to advocate for better public librarian salaries in Tennessee you can join the Tennessee Library Association where you will find a lot of information on how to advocate for better pay. You can also access the State Library resources that are available to public libraries. Oftentimes these include grants and funds that you can use to better fund the library that you are employed in. You can find the full list of resources here. 

Academic Librarians

How are academic librarian salaries determined in Tennessee?

Academic libraries differ from public libraries because their funding comes both from private and public funds. This means that oftentimes they have more resources to allocate to the salaries given to the librarians. Usually, academic librarians have their salaries determined by the position they hold and the years that they have been in this position.

How can one increase their salary?

Academic libraries often work in promotion by rank manner, what that means essentially is that every few years librarians move up the ranks. The further up they move, the higher their salary will be. In many academic institutions, promotion is not the only way of increasing your salary, taking on more specialized positions or carrying out research is often rewarded. In some institutions, higher education levels also may mean higher pay so it is always best to check with your specific institution. 

How can an academic librarian get tenured and how does this affect their lifetime earning potential?

Academic librarians are able to get tenure after they have reached a certain rank. Even then they usually need to obtain a recommendation letter from one of the faculty members. The requirements for tenure vary in each institution so it is always best to check with your institution if you qualify for tenure. 

Tenure can have a great effect on their lifetime earnings. While tenure does not usually come with an increase in salary, it usually does mean that the position you are in is yours until you retire. On extreme occasions, a tenured librarian might get fired, but even then, they are compensated handsomely. Therefore, tenure can lead to more income security which can have a positive effect on one’s lifetime earning potential. 

Government or non-profit resources within Tennessee providing assistance for better academic librarian pay

Most academic librarians advocate for better pay within their institution, however by joining the Tennessee Library Association you can lobby for better librarian salaries on a state level. Further information on advocacy can also be found in the Association of College and Research Libraries.