Before the Ballot: Building Political Support for Library Funding

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American Library Association, Dec 4, 2018 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 272 pages

Let's be blunt: library funding is political. And the struggle to secure funding is ongoing; the work that librarians need to do to influence local politics doesn’t just pop up in the few months before Election Day. It should span the years before or between elections. The authors’ previous book Winning Elections and Influencing Politicians for Library Funding targeted library ballot committees and advocacy organizations. But their new book speaks directly to librarians, library staff, and boards. It is designed to help library leaders understand and navigate the political nature of their work in the years leading up to a ballot measure or political initiative. Sharing the tools and tactics developed by their organization EveryLibrary, the nation’s first and only Political Action Committee for Libraries, in this book they

  • discuss how the day-to-day work of librarians, their communications with the public, and their roles and responsibilities in the community can help increase the willingness of public and local elected officials to support funding libraries through taxes;
  • guide readers through the practical side of running a public-facing Informational Communications Campaign for their library before Election Day;
  • explain the concept of surfacing, the important groundwork of occupying a strong and positive space in the community during the years before and between ballot measures;
  • demonstrate why surfacing is one of the most crucial steps a library can take to build and maintain support;
  • share the most recent data insights into voter attitudes about libraries and librarians;
  • show how libraries can coordinate internally to build new external partners;
  • offer advice on finding, activating, and holding onto supporters; and
  • discuss the path to the ballot with practical insights about how to get onto the ballot.

This essential resource is filled with concrete steps that librarians, library staff, and boards can take to ensure that political support is there when they need it the most.



Identifying Cultivating and Empowering Supporters
Surfacing the Library
Insights into Voter Attitudes about Libraries
Radicalizing Americans about Libraries
Librarian as Candidate
Library as Cause
Creating a Fundable Plan
Messaging for Funding Support
Understanding Engagement with Supporters and Activists
Getting to Election
Transitioning to the Informational Communications Campaign
Where Problems Come From
Why Libraries Lose
Steps in the Informational Communications Campaign
Ideal 36Month Campaign from Before the Ballot to Election

Building Partnerships and Joining Coalitions
RelationshipBuilding with People Who Should Care
Defining Audiences of Potential Supporters
Everyday Campaigning

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About the author (2018)

John Chrastka is EveryLibrary's founder and is a longtime library trustee, supporter, and advocate. He is a former partner in AssociaDirect, a Chicago-based consultancy focused on supporting associations in membership recruitment, conference, and governance activities. He is a former president and member of the Board of Trustees for the Berwyn (Illinois) Public Library (2006–2015) and is a former president of the Reaching Across Illinois Libraries System (RAILS) multi-type library system. Prior to his work at AssociaDirect, he was director for membership development at the American Library Association. He is a member of the ALA as well as the Illinois Library Association and the American Political Sciences Association. He was named a 2014 Mover & Shaker by Library Journal and tweets @mrchrastka.

Patrick “PC” Sweeney is a tireless and innovative advocate for libraries and the current political director for EveryLibrary. A 2007 graduate of the San Jose School of Library and Information Sciences, he is a former administrative librarian of the Sunnyvale (California) Public Library and was executive director of EveryLibrary California, a statewide ballot committee to support library ballot propositions. He is active in the California Library Association and across library social media as a cofounder of the ALA Think Tank. His library blog is well respected, and he is a sought-after speaker and presenter. A recent project, the Story Sailboat, worked to provide library services and materials—by boat—in the San Francisco Bay area. He was named a 2015 Mover & Shaker by Library Journal and tweets at @pcsweeney.

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