Amid a continuing surge in book bans and an organized right-wing political attack on libraries, the library community certainly needed its allies in 2023. And once again, John Chrastka, founder and executive director of EveryLibrary, the nation’s only political action committee dedicated to supporting libraries, stepped up.

Since its founding in 2012, the nonprofit, nonpartisan EveryLibrary has offered pro bono support and counsel to local library funding campaigns, helping libraries win some $2.8 billion in stable tax revenue (and counting) at ballot boxes in communities across the nation, as well as advocating on a range of key issues, including the importance of school librarians. But in the teeth of unprecedented efforts in some states to criminalize library work and defund libraries over allegedly obscene books, Chrastka’s political savvy and EveryLibrary’s organizational and campaign skills have never been needed more. Through its Fight for the First initiative, which launched in April, EveryLibrary has been a true difference maker, supporting some 80 local campaigns in defense of libraries and the freedom to read in 2023.

“It’s an honor to be able to show up and work with all the wonderful volunteers and the great librarians around the country, and to be at the nexus of a team that’s sharp, strategic thoughtful, and engaged,” Chrastka says, shouting out cofounders Patrick Sweeney and Erica Findley. And he is quick to credit the many donors and “heroic” local campaigners who are tirelessly rallying to support local libraries—such as those in Pella, Iowa, who organized to defeat a November referendum that would have ceded control of their library to local politicians on the city council; and in Jamestown, Mich., where voters rallied to pass a funding measure for the Patmos Library after book banners had targeteed and defeated two previous efforts; and in Columbia County, Wash., where library supporters successfully sued to a block a book banner’s bid to threaten the local Dayton Library’s funding.

“Did I ever think we’d be where we are in terms of censorship in 2023? I don’t believe we should be here, and it’s unfortunate,” Chrastka says. “But this is where we are now. And we have no choice but to engage.”

For publishers looking to support libraries and get more involved in defending the freedom to read, EveryLibrary has proven to be an indispensable ally. Educational publisher Roger Rosen, chairman of Rosen Publishing, calls Chrastka “one of the most effective advocates for libraries” in the country. “I support EveryLibrary because in places where library funding has been threatened, in states where legislation threatens readers’ freedoms, he has worked strategically with local leadership to help win the battles book lovers are fighting,” Rosen says. “And over these many years, John has gained my appreciation, admiration, and unwavering support.”

Return to the main feature.