2020 Membership Survey Results

By Amy Easley, Membership Subcommittee Chair, CLEL Steering Committee

In December of 2020, the CLEL Steering Committee decided to survey our members with a few goals in mind:

  • Find out who our members are.
  • Assess how they currently engage with us.
  • Determine their future wants/needs.

127 people, 17% of our total membership, completed the survey which was sent out via the CLEL Listserv and the Colorado Youth Services Network Listserv. This is the first time this survey has been administered, so there’s no comparable data. What follows is a summary of our findings as well as our main takeaways. This survey will guide the Steering Committee and organization for the next 3 years, when the next survey will be administered. You can find the full survey results here.


Demographics & Education

Several demographic trends stood out, such as the large number of members who have been in the field for over 10 years, the fact that most members work in the public library, and CLEL’s growing membership outside of Colorado. Members commented on confusions over membership qualifications and inclusivity which we hope to address. Lastly, members noted a need for more early literacy emphasis in MLIS programs.

  • 55% have MLIS and 42% received it more than 10 years ago (only 14% in the past 5 years)
  • 59% of people said that their coursework only prepared them “somewhat”, and only 16% said “very well”
  • 75% of respondents reside in Colorado
  • 90% of respondents work in a public library
  • 53% of respondents live in the Denver Metro area with the next most common place being Pikes Peak area

“I would appreciate more focus on libraries that aren’t in the Denver area. They are doing great things, and should be celebrated, but sometimes it feels like the majority of CLEL is for them.”

Our Response:

  • Revamping the CLELCON awards to be more expansive and inclusive
  • Creating a presence at the Rocky Mountain Early Childhood Conference in hopes of engaging with non-library early literacy professionals
  • Increasing outreach to Colorado library schools
  • Examining our membership and content to be more inclusive and representative of our state

CLEL Membership and Usage

  • 18% said they weren’t sure if they’re CLEL members or not and only 8% have been a member for more than 10 years
    • Of the people surveyed who weren’t members, reasons for not being one included living out of state and not knowing that it’s free
  • The vast majority of people heard about CLEL through a colleague (49%)
  • Most people find out CLEL information from our Listserv (84%), 61% use our website, but only 20% use our Facebook and even fewer (10%) use our Twitter
  • The ways that our members engage with CLEL are varied, with the majority having attended a CLEL conference, and applied knowledge gained from CLEL. Very few have presented at CLEL or written a guest post for the CLEL blog.

Our Response:

  • Revamping our membership process to streamline it and be able to better communicate with and maintain memberships
  • Redesigning our website and including more guest blogs to help members connect and learn from each other
  • Creating Virtual Member Meetups

What We’re Doing Well

We were so happy to learn that most people are happy with CLEL overall and had a lot of kind things to say.

  • Almost 80% of the respondents who are members are either satisfied or very satisfied with their membership.
  • 88% of the respondents agree that they’d recommend CLEL to a colleague
  • Things people felt that CLEL is doing the best at include
  • Being a “go to” place for early literacy (75% somewhat or strongly agree)
  • Providing high quality professional development (89% somewhat or strongly agree)
  • Advocating for early literacy in Colorado (84% somewhat or strongly agree)

“The focus on early literacy is fantastic. CLEL is a close knit community and I have learned a lot from my colleagues.”

Where We Can Grow

We noted the concerns about diversity and inclusion within CLEL committees as well as in the library world as a whole. It is also very apparent that our members want to feel more connected with each other and that continuing education (webinars, networking) is very important. We also learned that CLEL needs to do more to support rural libraries. One of the most important takeaways is that CLEL needs to continue to help guide all libraries through the uncertainties that COVID has brought us all.

“I’d like to see CLEL embrace the early literacy FOR ALL part of its mission and acknowledge/tackle the systemic inequities (such as racism) that prevent this reality for all children.”

Some things we heard that we could improve upon include:

  • Better connecting CLEL members with each other
  • Aiding rural libraries more
  • Providing more ways to communicate needs, concerns, and ideas with the Steering Committee
  • More professional development/webinar/training opportunities in particular in the sciences of early literacy, EDISJ, and outreach services, with STEM appearing frequently in the write-in category

Some common ideas of ways CLEL can improve the member experience include:

  • Diversifying the committees and be more inclusive
  • Monthly communication
  • Opportunities for more collaboration and connection among members

There are two initiatives that respondents seemed most interested in CLEL pursuing:

  • Equity, diversity, inclusion and social justice (EDISJ) initiatives such as Project READY study groups (60% Very Interested, 32% Somewhat Interested)
  • Professional Development webinars (67% Very Interested, 30% Somewhat Interested)

Our Response:

  • Creating Project READY Study Buddy groups, beginning March 2021!
  • Creating a EDISJ Resolution that goes beyond a statement and includes actionable ways to diversify CLEL Committees
  • Increasing the number of webinars we provide, including a panel on supporting emerging readers coming April 2021!
  • Collaborating with ALSC for a Virtual Storytime Services training
  • Develop Early Literacy Mini Grants for our members

We’ve got our work cut out for us over the next few years! Some initiatives we have already begun working on, with many more slated for the future. CLEL strives to be responsive to the needs of our members. If you have further ideas or suggestions for our continued growth don’t hesitate to contact us at info@clel.org.