EveryLibrary.org is a library political action committee founded by former ALA membership director John Chrastka that focuses on helping local libraries win local elections that have critical library funding issues on the ballot. In May, along with support from EveryLibrary.org, voters in Ronan, Montana approved a new Ronan Library District that will raise the annual budget of the Ronan City Library from $15,000 a year to over $200,000. EveryLibrary has added former Library Journal editor-in-chief Francine Fialkoff to its advisory committee and the organization is currently at work supporting ballot initiatives around two small rural libraries—one in Hot Springs, Montana; the other Chrastka can’t name just yet—that will provide funding to hire library staff.
Chrastka spent part of BEA with Fialkoff, “and her fabulous rolodex was a big help. She was very helpful talking to publishers about funding” for EveryLibrary. While the Hot Spings library funding ballot (scheduled for August 27) is very small—the library has two employees and they are about to lay off one of them—he said these local initiatives are the bread and butter of libraries. “We had great meetings at BEA,” he said noting that he met with about a dozen publishers and one of them—the publisher asked to remain anonymous—immediately wrote a check that would cover the entire costs of providing political support and training to the Hot Springs library in question. The other, unnamed library is facing a levy renewal, Chrastka said, that will provide funding for the libraries continued operation. EveryLibrary is also on the lookout for “anti-tax lobbies,” in these local elections that can disrupt library funding.
In Ronan, EveryLibrary contributed $1,000 in direct funding to the organizers while also supplying consulting and training. “We don’t need a $100,000,” Chrastka said, “we need about $1,000 for materials and signs.” EveryLibrary also provides training in “voter segmentation,” a key to influencing small off-cycle elections, Chrastka said. Voter segmentation, used with great success during the Obama presidential campaign, is a research and interviewing technique that identifies habitual voters so they can be informed to support library funding.
Chrastka said that the publisher’s check from BEA will allow EveryLibrary to provide the Hot Springs library with political consultants and support for the election. EveryLibrary also works to set up “boot camps,” or workshops that will train volunteers for “effective door to door canvasing, telemarketing and other practical stuff about political campaigns, political endorsements and coalition politics.”
Chrastka said he expects to announce two more ballot initiatives in which EveryLibrary will be involved, “very soon.”