During May 2006 ACRL conducted a membership survey. A marketing firm was hired to do the survey work. ACRLog obtained a copy of the initial report that summarizes the survey results, and we can share some of the data and findings. The survey was sent to 10,032 members and 3,332 completed it (a 37% return rate). The goal of the survey was to evaluate member satisfaction, and determine what the members most value about their involvement in ACRL. Since the report is somewhat long it will be reported in multiple posts.
The questions ACRL was looking for answers to included:
Are members and leaders satisfied with current programming?
How important are advocacy, library and personal issues to members?
Do leadersâ€™ perceptions differ from those of â€œrank and fileâ€ members?
Have perceptions of ACRL membership changed over the past three years?
Here are some of the demographic highlights from the survey:
The ACRL membership still lacks diversity but there is improvement. While the membership was 93% Caucasian in 1993 it is now 86% Caucasian. The next largest ethnic background is African American at 5%.
ACRL is still dominated by women members. In 2006 the association was 75% female and 25% male. That’s far less balanced than in 1989 when it was 60% female and 40% male.
We’ve been told ours is an aging profession and the numbers back that up. Of the respondents 66% are over 46. That only 15% are under 34 (and just 1% under 25) indicates we clearly need to recruit younger individuals to academic librarianship. With only 4% of respondents over 65 ACRL is not likely to see a large number of members retiring in the next year or two, but beyond that the large number over 46 will mean significant retirements over the next 20 years. Who will replace those members?
ACRL is mostly made up of library deans and directors and department/unit heads. These two job titles account for nearly 40% of all respondents. Most likely it’s a reflection of the aging nature of the profession as ACRL members tend to move into senior administrative positions as they age. Public service librarian accounts for 18%. How do we get more front-line practitioners and folks from technical services units to join ACRL?
Over the years the respondents’ type of institution has remained relatively stable. Universities lead the pack, followed by comprehensives and then four-year colleges.
Another relatively stable area is membership tenure. It doesn’t change much from year to year. It is worth noting that that 45% of ACRL members have belonged less than five years. ACRL may be attracting more nextgen librarians, but a clear strategy for retaining these relatively new members is needed. Forty respondents said they were not going to renew their ACRL membership. About half of those were retiring, but the other half cited “cost” as the reason for quitting ACRL.
In the next report – more on member satisfaction and participation.