EveryLibrary is gearing up for a big election day on November 4. The political action committee (PAC) rallies support for key library funding initiatives on local ballots and is currently working on eight ballot measures around the country.
EveryLibrary director John Chrastka said that those eight ballot initiatives represent $5 to $6 million in funding. So far this year, the PAC has supported seven library funding measures, five of which passed, amounting to roughly $15 million in funding for library districts. Chrastka said he expects EveryLibrary to be active in campaigns for about 20 different ballot initiatives in 2014 that could reap as much as $40 million for local library districts.
Among the eight ballot initiatives that will go before voters on November 4 are a $990,000 levy for the Josephine Community Library in Oregon, a $1.2 million remodeling bond for the Cranston Public Library in Rhode Island, a $550,000 levy increase for the Park Ridge Public Library in Illinois, a $440,000 levy renewal for the Northville District Library in Michigan, and a $490,000 annual operating levy renewal for the Paulding County Carnegie Library in Ohio.
Chrastka said EveryLibrary will also work on two or three special elections slated for this winter, including one in Miami-Dade County, Fla. The Coalition to Save Miami-Dade County Libraries, which EveryLibrary supports, is trying to reverse budgetary cuts imposed on the local library district in an earlier budget. The new campaign hopes to add about $8 million in funding to the county libraries. “The budget cuts in Miami were defeated by a grassroots coalition in 2013,” Chrastka said, “but there’s still a big hole in the budget. We’re working with the coalition to support this initiative.”
EveryLibrary offers a range of assistance for local political groups, Chrastka said, providing “tactical and financial” support that includes training library activists in voter data analysis, message development, social media outreach, door-to-door canvassing, and opposition engagement. Donations provide the financial support that allows the PAC to offer sophisticated political support for local funding issues.
Chrastka said that trade publishers “have been slow to adopt us as a cause,” adding, “They don’t seem to understand that these campaigns directly impact library collection budgets.” Most of EveryLibrary’s funding comes from the library community. Chrastka noted that Rosen Publishing, a library-oriented reference publisher, has donated $8,000 to the PAC over the last two years. He also said EveryLibrary has received financial support from library vendors like OverDrive, Hoopla, and Mango Languages.