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61st IFLA General Conference - Conference Proceedings - August 20-25, 1995

Job Satisfaction of the Librarians in the Developing Countries

Ebru Kaya
Hacettepe University
Department of Library and Information Science


Job satisfaction is one of the criteria of establishing a healthy organizational structure in an organization. Libraries are inseparable cornerstones of the society. To render an effective service at the libraries depends on the human source. Job satisfaction of the librarians, who have an important place in the information society, will affect the quality of the service they render. In this res pect, the question of how the material and moral elements affect the job satisfaction of the librarians gains importance. This paper examines librarianship and especially, job satisfaction of librari ans in the developing countries.


Job Satisfaction

Job satisfaction of the librarians, who have an important place in the information society, will affect the quality of the service they render.

The concept of job satisfaction has numerous definitions. Some of these definitions may be listed as follows:

According to Vroom (1967:99), job satisfaction is the reaction of the workers against the role they play in their work. Similarly, Blum and Naylor (1968:364) define job satisfaction as a general att itude of the workers constituted by their approach towards the wages, working conditions, control, promotion related with the job, social relations in the work, recognition of talent and some similar variables, personal characteristics, and group relations apart from the work life.

Job satisfaction is the total of the sentiments related with the job conducted. If the worker perceives that his/her values are realized within the job, s/he improvises a positive attitude towards h is/her job and acquires job satisfaction (Mc Cormic and Tiffin 1974:74).

In light of these definitions, we can define the job satisfaction as the sum of all negative and positive aspects related to the individual's salary, his/her physical and emotional working condition s, the authority s/he has, the autonomous usage of this authority, the level of success s/he has maintained and the rewards given due to this success, the social statute maintained in relation with h is/her job, and his/her relations with his/her colleagues and administrators. Individual elements do not result in the job satisfaction. Job satisfaction can only be mentioned if all these elements e xist in a place in harmony.

The Importance of Job Satisfaction

The most important evidence which indicates that the conditions of an organization got worsened, is the low rate of job satisfaction. The job satisfaction is the condition of establishing an healthy organizational environment in an organization.

Individuals want to maintain statute, high ranks and authority by giving their capabilities such as knowledge, ability, education, health etc. to their jobs for which they spend most of their time. The individuals who cannot meet their expectations with regard to their jobs become dissatisfied. Thus, this dissatisfaction affects the organization for which s/he works.

Job satisfaction is very important for a person's motivation and contribution to production. Job satisfaction may diminish irregular attendance at work, replacement of workers within a cycle or even the rate of accidents (Kahn 1973:94).

Libraries are the indispensable cornerstones of the society. The qualifications of the library personnel are the fundamental determinant of the development and organization of the service. Rendering effective service in libraries depends on the human source.

Job satisfaction of the librarians, who have an important place in the information society, will affect the quality of the service they render. In this respect, the question of how the material and moral elements affect the job satisfaction of the librarians gains importance.

Factors Affecting Job Satisfaction Numerous research results show that there are many factors affecting the job satisfaction.

Satisfying factors motivate workers while dissatisfying ones prevent. Motivating factors are achievement, recognition, the job conducted, responsibility, promotion and the factors related to the jo b itself for personal development. Motivating factors in the working environment result in the job satisfaction of the person while protective ones dissatisfy him/her (Herzberg 1969:21).

If people compare their achievements and the resulting awards with the others' achievements and awards, and the result is balanced, then we can talk about job satisfaction. In contrast, if the resul t is imbalanced, then dissatisfaction will exist. In addition, if some workers receive several awards compared to others, this will result in a feeling of guiltiness after a certain period of time wh ich causes dissatisfaction (Adams 1963:425).

Maslow connects the creation of the existence of people's sense of satisfaction with the maintenance of the classified needs. These are: physiological needs (eating, drinking, resting, etc.), secur ity needs (pension, health insurance, etc.), the need to love (good relations with the environment, friendship, fellowship, to love and to be loved), need to self-esteem (self-confidence, recognition , adoration, to be given importance, status, etc.) need of self-actualization (maximization of the latent[potential] power and capacity, development of abilities, etc.).

The individual's willingness to get a result, his/her endavour and expectation of maintaining the result will push him/her to show the highest performance.

The difference between the results that the individual desire and those s/he maintained will affect his/her satisfaction (Nash 1975:32). There is a consistent relationship between the professional s tatus and the job satisfaction. High levels of job satisfaction are observed in those professions which are deemed of good standing in the society.

The workers usually compare their working conditions with the conditions of the society, under the variable of social conditions. If the social conditions are worse than the individual's working con ditions, then this will result in satisfaction of the individual, as the workers deem themselves relatively in good position.

Age is one of the factors affecting job satisfaction. Studies conducted in five different countries prove that the elder workers are more satisfied (Davis 1988:100). Köse (1985) has also found a mea ningful relation between the age and job satisfaction.

The results of several studies show meaningful relations between job satisfaction and:

The effects of the motivator and hygiene factors on the job satisfaction do not vary according to sex (Bilgin 1986).

It has been proved that job satisfaction and devotion to the job affected each other reciprocally, and they have great impact upon performance (Ergenç 1982 a: 49-55).

Insufficient education, inability to select qualified workers for the job, lack of communications, lack of job definitions, all affect job satisfaction negatively (İncir 1990).

In the field of librarianship, research shows that many factors affect the job satisfaction.

It has been asserted that participating in the management (D'Elia 1979: 283-302; Lynch and Verdin 1983: 343-447; Wellmaker 1985: 3471 A), having the decision making power (Rockman 1985: 45-63; Wellm aker 1985: 3471 A), independence on the job (D'Elia 1979: 283-302; Rockman 1985: 45-63) and the unit where the individual works (Lynch and Verdin 1983: 434-447; Hamshari 1986:3179 A) have positive im pact upon the job satisfaction. Plate and Stone (1974: 97-100) has pointed out that the job itself (the work conducted), and achievement and recognition at work result in satisfaction while the manag ement policy, relations with the managers and colleagues result in dissatisfaction. D'Elia (1979: 283-302) has disclosed that factors related to the job itself such as using talents, creativity, resp onsibility, recognition have influence on the job satisfaction.

No meaningful relationship between the job satisfaction, and age (Scammel and Stead 1980: 3-8; Wellmaker 1985: 3471 A; Hamshari 1986: 3179 A), professional experience (Scammel and Stead 1980: 3-8; D 'Elia 1979: 283-302; Hamshari 1986: 3179 A), education level (Wellmaker 1985: 3471 A; Hamshari: 1986: 3179 A), level of wage (Hamshari: 1986: 3179 A; Vaughan and Dunn 1974: 163-177), sex (D'Elia 1979 : 283-302; Lynch and Verdin 1983: 434-447; Wellmaker 1985: 3471 A) and professional group (Prybil:1973: 94-100) was found. On the contrary, professional experience has been claimed to increase job sa tisfaction. (Lynch and Verdin 1983: 434-447; Wellmaker 1985: 3471 A). Similarly, by some researchers, sex is also found to have an influence on job satisfaction (Rockman:1985: 45-63). Besides, Wahba (1975: 45-51) has find out that male librarians give more importance to personal development and free decision making in their jobs than the female librarians, and the female librarians are more diss atisfied than the male librarians.

Librarianship in the Developing Countries

"In the developing nations where the struggle for food, clothing and shelter is still of paramount importance, the motivation to work still centres on the lowest level of needs for survival and secu rity. It is in more advanced countries that motivation to work depends on satisfaction, recognition and self-actualization" (Bass 1976).

The leading problem of the developing countries is the economical problem. Culture, strong ties with traditions, ethnic pressure, lack of motivation, large family structures are some of the numerous factors hindering the economical development (Harrison 1987).

In the developing countries, the problem of unemployment is caused by the population growth. With the increase in the number of unemployed people, income gap increases. In many developing countries , majority of the people work for food only, with no social security rights, health insurance, retirement, benefits, and so on.

These few but most important problems we pointed out in connection with the developing countries are also affecting the librarianship negatively.

The most significant of the factors affecting libraries and information centers are economical, technical, socio-political, cultural and demographical ones (Martin;1991).

There have been many problems which were brought out with the transition period from industrial society to information society. Libraries have been facing many problems.Among them are lack of adequa te buildings, physical conditions, financial sources, bibliographical control, qualified personnel, cooperation between different libraries, etc. In addition, libraries in developing countries are u sually not well-managed and very few computers are in use (Çelik; 1990).

As information is not deemed as an economical source in the developing countries yet, there is neither a national information policy which regulates the efficient use of this source nor an effective attempt in this direction (TKD; 1995). In most developing countries, national information policies have yet to be established. Because of this deficiency, standards regarding various libraries could not be staged and put into practice.

Libraries are influenced by the political, social, economical, etc. conditions of the society in which they exist.

Libraries were not able to establish an organic relation with the society they belong (Soysal; 1987). This lack of relation shows itself especially in the level of political decision-making mechani sms. Political bodies which do not receive a strong demand from the society in this field, naturally give less importance to this issue in practice (i.e. in development programs, etc.). As a result o f this situation, a national policy regarding librarianship could not be determined. Lack of policies and institutions which may give direction to the librarianship in the country are important def iciencies for the libraries (Çelik; 1991).

Due to the economical problems of the developing countries, budgets of the libraries are quite insufficient. Libraries have to fight with the reductions made by the local governments in their budget s.

There are no standards in libraries regarding the personnel to be employed.

There is no planning in the construction of the library buildings. There are no standards regarding this issue, either.

Collection is not sufficient and policies of expanding collection are not determined strictly.

The reason for these lack of standards is the political problems. Governments change quite often in developing countries.

Intensive population and big families create an education problem. Majority of the population are not well-educated. As libraries are also a part of the education, they are negatively affected by th is situation. Because of the insufficient education, the number of library users is fewer and they need more assistance. Most users in developing countries do not know how to use libraries effectivel y. The problem of literacy of the under-developed countries affects the use of libraries.

Job Satisfaction of the Librarians in the Developing Countries

Job satisfaction naturally depends on the economical, social and cultural conditions in a given country.

Existing economical problems of the developing countries affect the budgets of the libraries. In parallel, wages and status are low. A librarian who can not get a sufficient wage, face with the prob lem of maintaining his/her family's life. This problem puts the librarian far from being satisfied. The statuses of librarians in developing countries are not defined. Promotion depends not on the ob jective criteria but the personal choices of the administrators.

Especially the social facilities (transportation services, consumer cooperatives, cash boxes, etc.) are insufficient because of the economic conditions. This also affects the job satisfaction negati vely.

Low wages, and lack of status and social security affect motivation. One cannot talk about job satisfaction where there is no motivation.

Technological developments are limited in the developing countries. In addition to this, routine and manual works exist extensively. That is to say, works depending on physical power occupy a great part of the job market in developing countries. This also affects the job satisfaction negatively (Lopes; 1992).

Demirel (1989) has conducted a survey which included librarians working at 28 university libraries in Turkey. As a result, she stated that independence, use of talents, physical working conditions, relations with the colleagues, recognition by the work conducted, acquiring respect and social security have influence upon the job satisfaction of librarians. Librarians express their dissatisfactio n regarding promotion, wages, social status, social services and lack of obtaining authority and responsibility. Librarians are satisfied to some extent by the library policies and practices, relatio nship with the superiors, and the job conducted. Very few librarians are dissatisfied in this respect. Dissatisfaction is felt because the promotion is determined by the sex. Satisfaction due to ind ependence and recognition are influenced by the age and professional experience. It has been stated that dissatisfaction due to social status, the work conducted and relationship with the superiors w ere affected by the age and professional experience. Dissatisfaction due to financial matters is related with the age. Dissatisfaction or satisfaction due to social security, social service, use of t alent, relations with the colleagues, achievement, physical working conditions, and the library politics, is not related with the age, nationality, and sex.

We conducted a survey in the university libraries in Ankara (Kaya; 1994). We found out that librarians are dissatisfied regarding physical working conditions, recognition with the work conducted, o btaining respect with the job conducted, job security, promotion, wages, social status, social services, having authority and responsibility.

University libraries in Turkey are in a relatively good situation. Job satisfaction in public libraries is extremely low.

Special libraries in Turkey have the best conditions when compared with others. First of all, librarians working in these libraries are satisfied with the wages. University, public and school librar ies follow. Among these, university libraries are in a good condition in respect to not only the wages but also status and numbers.

As far as we observe, young librarians and especially the students of the Department of Library and Information Sciences do not prefer to work at the public libraries after graduation. The reason fo r this is job dissatisfaction, encountered in public libraries.


The level of job satisfaction in developing countries is lower than that of developed countries. The main reasons for this are lack of need for information and not giving essential value to the libr arians and information experts. In developed countries, information is more needed. Thus, this need arises the status of the librarian.. On the other hand, librarian is not a much needed person in developing countries. So, it is harder to get job satisfaction

A national library policy and related standards should be prepared. Such policies should take into account of the job satisfaction principles in librarianship.

A budget should be prepared for each library to alleviate the insufficient library collections. Also collection development policies should be established.

The status of librarians should be defined. Promotion should depend on objective criteria. Developed countries ought to help developing countries in this respect. In order to follow the technologica l developments and to adapt them at once, an education program may be prepared for the students studying at the departments of library and information sciences of the universities. This may be provid ed through the student exchange programs. Developed countries may provide summer practices and scholarships for the students of the developing countries.

Besides these, equality between authority and responsibility, participating in the decision, making process, job security and proper working conditions should be provided. Low wages should be improv ed. In order to realize these proposals, which might be increased easily, the living standards of the developing countries should be improved in the first hand.