You can download the full report (PDF), but below are highlights from the survey results.

Survey completion

173 people took the survey, and of those 127 (73.4%) completed the entire survey.

Most CLEL members work in public libraries

Over 90% of respondents work in public libraries.

They mostly reside in Colorado

And mostly in the Metro area

Other states

Illinois 5Ohio 2Nevada 1
South Carolina 4Pennsylvania2New Jersey 1
Texas4California1New Mexico 1
Kansas3Canada1New York1
Wisconsin3Kentucky1Washington, DC1
North Carolina2Montana1

They are mostly suburban

Nearly half of respondents described their communities as “suburban”. Nearly 25% live in “urban” or “inner city” communities. 26% are in “rural” communities.

They work with all ages

They are mostly professionals

They are mostly non-supervisors

Almost two thirds have an MLS or MLIS degree

Most got their degrees more than 10 years ago

Coursework prepared them only somewhat

Most have more than 10 years of professional experience

Less than 1/3rd get lots of professional development support

CLEL membership

Most CLEL members joined less than 6 years ago

Colleagues spread the word about CLEL

CLEL provides members with information they can use

Email and our website are important ways to communicate

CLEL members find membership pretty satisfying

They find CLEL to be a valuable organization

Please rate your level of agreement with the following statements

How important is it to you that CLEL does the following:

CLEL is considering many potential future projects and initiatives.
How interested would you be if CLEL supported:

Members want to learn more about early literacy

What professional challenges do you currently face, or anticipate facing in the next three years?

There were 73 responses to this question. You can scroll through them below.

a challenging political & cultural climate for the integration of impactful EDISJ shifts in library services, programs, and practices

lack of staffing – I am a one person Children’s Department that serves a rapidly growing community.

Budget, growth, book bans

Book challenges! The fight to maintain access to books with LGBTQIA content is real! The personal attacks on library staff are real!

Staffing capacity challenges. Covid learning gaps for emerging readers, and SEL for early childhood community members that did not experience group learning before K. This is a current challenge, and likely to be so for the next couple of years.

Lack of staff resources and time to meet demands of the community.

Book banning and Continuing to foster Equity, Diversity, Inclusion in Library Programs and book collections

The “new normal after” COVID, capacity and not enough staff to support programs, storytimes, events, outreach. There are always SO many needs, and it’s hard to do it with little to no staff help besides yourself.

Not enough staff in libraries so not much support at all for our services. We need more staff!!!! Also, expectations STILL about “the new normal after” COVID.

I support staff in public libraries, and the biggest challenge I hear from them is being consistently short-staffed.

A professional, not-so-casual workforce. Technology, new devices, and services that elders have difficulty navigating. Reaching children who spend many hours gaming, texting, and living on social media but are unable to read at grade level.

censorship-material and program appeals/challenges

Being understaffed and having to do everything myself, be everything for everyone.

materials and programming challenges/appeals

Behavior in the library exacerbated by systemic issues like houselessness, food insecurity, gun violence, and more.

How to support children/families with LGBTQIA needs in a world/community that disavows these realities.

Budget cuts. We are funded through property tax and a new legislative bill has the potential to really hurt our revenue. I also think we will continue to experience the fallout from the COVID-era babies and children who fell behind during distance learning.

The continued need to be knowledgeable about the latest trends in children’s publishing.

Leadership not understanding what early literacy is, how it is presented, why it is important, and what goes into planning an early literacy event or program.

small staffing which causes each of our library employees to need to know all aspects of library work, but occasionally hinders the ability to focus specifically on early literacy and youth services.

stagnation. My job has become quite limited due to organizational restructuring and I’m not as excited about it because I don’t get to do special projects any more. Also, our budget and staffing capabilities continue to tighten because of inflation, which means even if I had the opportunity to do new projects I wouldn’t necessarily have the time for them. It’s very frustrating learning and getting inspired by what other libraries are doing but not being able to implement anything in my job or work.

Funding and lack of funding to grow programs and resources for community members at or through the library

Book challenges and protective parents. Balancing that with wanting to promote all the amazing books that continue to come out from authors of minorities


budget that isn’t keeping up with changing prices; students coming to school less prepared than in past

Budgetary concerns and increasing hostility towards LGBTQ content in my area. As the area grows and there are more opportunities for events and engagement, it becomes harder for the library to “compete” and more important for us to collaborate.

As a queer library professional, I deal with countless microaggressions from caregivers and kids alike, and I would love to learn how to deal with those in a gracious and educational way.

With the advent of Universal Preschool in Colorado, we are seeing less 3-5-year-olds at library programs. I think there needs to be more consideration for how to serve babies and toddlers in and out of the library, while also recognizing the needs of the PreK audience and how the library can best serve them and their caregivers.

Providing low cost programming

Book bannigs and diverse program challenges. The continuing struggle to talk about libraries as not nutral spaces.

Book challenges, changes to library boards and policies that don’t support neutrality and the freedom to read

Staffing and funding



inability to grow my skillset

Preschool Wait Lists are 3 years long is some of our service areas. The public library is not able to fill this gap independently.

Push back from communities on books on the shelves.

Book and program challenges from members or the community or organized groups.

Staying on top of industry news – i don’t get access to magazines and articles like I did when I was in school.

can one progress without a mlis degree in public libraries

Decreasing attendance at daytime programs (3-5yo & caregivers) due to advent of Transitional kindergarten/universal PreK (UPK) programs in CA.

Lack of participation/interest within my community to early literacy programming, however, I’m noticing positive response to story time and I’m hoping that continues.

Budget cuts. Outgrowing our space. I feel a “Baby Boom” is coming.

A lot of staff turnover, and keeping a staff which is very large and constantly in flux trained up on best practices, brain development, story time strategies, and more while also continuing to engage a handful of veteran staff with professional development.

Staffing and people choosing the library as a career path. There is a lot of turnover these days and I feel that although libraries on the whole are loved by their communities, there is not enough advocacy to value staff on the front lines nor the staff’s dedication to their communities.

I fear that challenges regarding library materials and displays (particularly with regards to the LGBTQIA community) may continue to rise, even though we live in a very welcoming and inclusive area. I think that budgets for conference travel and professional development may be negatively impacted in the near future.


Workforce availability and affordable housing for young families; our population is aging, and young families can’t afford to live in our mountain communitie

We are asking for a mill levy increase this fall to build a second story on the library and expand services. If it happens, I get to design a new children’s room. I also must prepare for a year of serving the community in new ways. If it fails, we are looking at severe budget cuts to save money to build the new space ourselves.

Budget is a huge issue for our district.

Our local preschool will be moving to a new facility in January which will mean more travel time to do outreach.

Budget cuts. AI invasion that may help & may hinder Early Literacy progress with the children.

More requests for book removals (fortunately, I don’t deal with those much.) More conflict with adults who don’t have a stake in what we do.

Prioritizing – making time for Outcome Based Planning and Evaluation while still holding space for the active and busy programming schedule our patrons know us to provide.

Our library is going to start focusing more on outreach in our community and I struggle with creating those connections with the community members, especially with the communities that I feel like know little about the library’s services. Information on starting outreach from scratch would be amazing.


Having enough staff/capacity to do all the things we know are valuable.

More book challenges on books for younger “readers”.

finding low cost, no travel professional development


Challenges to lgbtqia materials

Book bans and censorship attempts. Having to prove once again that libraries are vital parts of the community.

I am the director of the library as well as the only person who leads programs for any age at the library. My background is early literacy and children’s programming so I try to do what I can to impart the early literacy tips.

Declining staffing in school libraries

Increased levels of responsibility without a commensurate increase in pay or work hours.

More collection development responsibilities

We are having very large numbers of people attending storytimes with limited space and staff.

The cutting of funding is supremely on my mind. Also, the challenges to not just particular books but also to libraries themselves from certain political groups are scary.

Funds to do outreach.

Continuing book bans and hostility towards LGBTQ communities

Serving children with a variety of disabilities and special needs.

I currently struggle with not having enough time in my day to implement all of the things that I’d like to do in the Children’s Area.

My library is opening a new branch and I think we will need to get creative with how we program for two different communities. We will also need to address staffing, which can become stressful for the librarians I supervise.

There were 62 responses to this question. You can scroll through them below.

The ongoing child care shortages, universal preschool implementation processes and the need for parental support around navigating that system, a lack of transition resources from early childhood to Kindergarten for kids not in formal PK, four-day school week impacts on kids/parents/teachers, a lack of access to affordable or free out-of-classroom intergenerational learning opportunities

lack of affordable childcare and support for new caregivers

decreasing circ numbers

Increase in SEL needs

FFN caregivers need our support. Our state is seeing an influx of early childhood education dollars, but our unlicensed caregivers will not be on the receiving end of any of those dollars. It would be great if libraries statewide could form a plan to tap into the money on behalf of these FFN caregivers!

Decreased hours of service in libraries, lack of access for families that work away from the home, due to research supporting the children’s opportunity index, how do libraries thrive that are not embedded in neighborhoods, how do urban libraries thrive as the neighborhood hub

Lack of access to child care.

We are still getting lots of new families into the libraries, and are discovering all we can offer. I feel like we still need basic training for all library staff that work in the children’s area. Trends: social/emotional, whole-child focus, supporting and collaborating with early childhood educators!!!!

Social/emotional; STEAM; whole-child

I’m noticing more health-related programs.

Yes, fewer visits by teens and participation in library programs. Children are opting to access various platforms for education, entertainment, and enlightenment.

Less library support, much more sporadic storytime and other program attendance.

Lots of conversations about book banning, especially related to LGBTQIA themes

There are more book challenges, especially for school libraries so it is important to develop the skills to review these materials.

Book banning

More need. More disparity between the haves and the have nots. Kids need so much more than just the basic literacy skills. They are lacking in social and emotional skills more than ever. And so are their parents!

elementary aged children home alone throughout the summer months, others over- scheduled resulting in little use of the library, other programs such as food programs or summer school being scheduled on top of summer library programs

Rising inflation affects all budgets, Universal PreK is still not enough to offset costs of early childcare.

Nationwide library debates about children’s library programs and children’s library collections that promotes an anti-LGBTQ sentiment locally. Program and collection challenges based on this misinformation spreading nationwide.

Economic disparities

Economic and drug use situations are leading to children who are not having early literacy experiences. Many are depending on screens/devices to keep children entertained rather than interacting with them in person.

My schools have a somewhat divided approach to literacy – some teachers are firmly entrenched in the traditional use of levels and are very aggressive around their use and others, especially the reading teachers, are shifting towards science-based reading instruction. I am trying to support this shift as well as support caregivers and teachers in helping the growing number of kids who are struggling to read (gee, I wonder why… )

I hear from pretty much every infant caregiver that the library is the only place they can find enriching activities for their child free of cost. Families struggle to access high quality programs and activities outside the library due to cost barriers and long waitlists.

Access to developmentally- and age-appropriate environments for youth of all ages is becoming more and more important. Also, I notice that customers are in need of free places, programs, and resources. Of course, with increased demand comes an increased need for staff and outreach. I think public libraries specifically need to be more and more responsive to community needs and to meet them where they are (while also finding ways to get them to visit the library for culturally relevant and responsive experiences).

lack of funding and lack of taxpayer support

The roll-out of Universal PreK in Colorado and how it will effect childcare workers.

Rise in book challenges Community members joining library boards who have political intentions




more books being challenged

Increasing Child Care Costs and less availability of childcare. SEL needs for children post pandemic.

We do a great job with babies through pre school and then lose kids through adolescence and we don’t get them back until they have their own kids and they bring them to storytime…

Families experiencing homelessness and school readiness gap.

Challenges to books for children and teens – of course

Decreasing attendance at daytime programs (3-5yo & caregivers) due to advent of Transitional kindergarten/universal PreK (UPK) programs in CA.

In Texas, the book challenges and we’ve been told that the County doesn’t need a library, if we have any push from the community members.

Homeschooling Autistic and other diagnoses.

An increasing desire for more than just story time and other traditional library programs (puppet shows, etc.) for young children — STEAM programming, sensory play, etc.

The library being a sort of gap filler in education and providing safe spaces for all.

We have a stronger need for ELL services. I want to expand the Spanish collection so everyone finds a book.

Moves to ban books.

Teachers are doing more to encourage reading.

Large Spanish speaking population that we need to serve better. Overcome the barriers that keep them from visiting us, and us from visiting them.

Anti-LGBTQ groups are trying to get their opinions heard–we just had Moms for Liberty try and have a storytime in our meeting room and others in our system.

Our community is trying to heal from a very public and painful political and cultural divide. There is are also many conversations about the growing community of those experiencing houselessness.

The current 1st, 2nd, 3rd graders are really struggling with reading. They are far behind where their peers were before Covid. Resources to help caregivers for these age groups are needed.

New arrivals and learning what the library has to offer, as well as moving away and we lose the consistent interaction. Lots of change

still children who are not comfortable in social settings post lock-down

We need more interaction and training for parents and caregivers. In a small town, it can be isolating.

Regulation of what materials libraries can have for children

Book bans and censorship attempts

Our community has typically had a long term retirees that live here. This is changing as I am having more families joining us for storytimes.

Negative feelings towards certain books and/or programs.

Higher levels of immigration

We need more space both indoor and outdoors. We also need more staff to participate in outreach to our community. We have many requests from preschools and daycares to come visit them in their space.

It seems like the community my library is in is aging more and more and is unaffordable for young families. I’m afraid that soon there will be not many families that my particular library serves.

Less usage

Virtual living and less in person interaction

I think that we are slowly adding more non-English speaking families to our community. I moved here from a small town with a large Latino population, so I’ve been surprised at how little Spanish inclusion there is in my new town.

I have seen an uptick in the book challenges in the school district we are in. We are also serving an increasingly growing population where two new elementary schools are slated to open next school year (2024-2025). Our community is growing and we are having a difficult time keeping up with programming to meet that need.

Do you have any other comments/suggestions/feedback for CLEL?

Responses to this question are below. Responses such as “No” or “None” are omitted.

You all do so much, how can we support CLEL!??!

Need more continuing help with Science of Reading- how to understand it, how to collaborate and support educators!

Thanks for all the great info and hard work! I always recommend CLEL to new YS staff.

Continue doing great work!!

I would love for the conference to go back to being in person one day!

I am glad that CLEL is a strong organization and advocate for early literacy.

I do use website often and have a huge respect for CLEL being a FREE membership and yet so much to offer each of us.

Thank you, leadership, for all of your hard work!!!


CLEL should think about attending the World Forum of Early Childhood Affairs.

Thank you for all your hard work and all the offerings you provide, from trainings to information that can be accessed on your website, to the conference.

Please lobby for more funding to UPK. all day.

I love CLEL and am so happy to be a part of it!

Just the fact that you sent out this survey shows you are not resting on your laurels and want to go further and want to improve. This is fantastic! I’m happy to be a part of it, even in my small way. Again, thank you very much, & keep up the good work!

Keep up the good work. Remember those of us who attended virtually and want to continue to attend events.

Your annual conferences are great and so informative! I look forward to them every year.

Thanks for asking, I feel that hearing from you via a newsletter would be helpful. Not via email.

Thank you for being here!

i loved my first conference. Looking forward to the next.

I appreciate the resources that CLEL provides and, as a still relatively new Colorado resident, look forward to continuing to connect with CLEL.