|Weekly News Digest
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EveryLibrary's Midterms Takeaways for Libraries
EveryLibrary’s executive director, John Chrastka, shares “EveryLibrary’s 10 Takeaways for Libraries from the 2018 Midterms.” They include the following:
- While library districts and municipalities regularly put dedicated library bonds on the ballot, many states and some cities and counties will put ‘general obligation’, or GOBonds, on the ballot for infrastructure. On the Midterms, places as different as Mesa, AZ, Orem, UT, South Burlington, VT, Nueces County, TX, and Campbell, CA put multi-purpose bonds that included library projects along with police, roads, museums, or even sewers on their ballots. But many other cities, counties, and states took the political risk of putting up a ‘General Obligation Bond Election’ without including libraries. While we don’t expect libraries to be in … all of them, but if transit, streets and sanitation, parks and recreation, museums, and economic or community development are on the project list and libraries are not, we have a problem.
- We all know that a district’s education priorities are set by their [school] boards. … But we cannot honestly comment on how a single one of those newly elected (or re-elected) local school board members think about how school library programs and school librarians fit into the educational priorities and district budgets. It’s because we did not ask them before the election. Most library advocacy trainings tend to focus on ways to chat with them after they are elected. Here at EveryLibrary, we would like to inject school library programs and the idea of certified school librarians into the next campaign cycle.
- Unlike in 2016 when national anti-tax and anti-government groups like the Americans for Prosperity came out directly against libraries on the ballot, the 2018 Midterms and Primaries saw more locally-originated opposition. But what we saw from the local anti-tax and anti-government people follows the same “M.O.” every election cycle: 1) they say that they love the library and that their opposition isn’t about “the library”, it’s about “bad taxes”; 2) they build a fiscal strawman about the budget or building project, facts be damned; 3) they then question the integrity of ‘this board’ or of ‘certain librarians’ as [managers and] public servants; and, 4) they back-channel to their supporters about the ‘kind of people’ who use the library.
- What we know from working on nearly 100 library Election Days is that there is often a disconnect between how librarians describe library services and how local communities listen politically, socially, and civically. … Voters across the country want to hear from their library leaders about the mission and vision you have for putting smart tax money to work in language that they understand even if that language is conservative in nature. Values like children growing up successful in livable, thriving, and prosperous communities are a universal value. We want to help library leaders identify, cultivate, and empower potential supporters who share those values.
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