2018 Election Night for Libraries
EveryLibrary tracked 79 elections for new or renewed funding, building projects, and library governance on November 6, 2018 General Election ballots from coast to coast. We were proud to support 10 of these libraries directly in their Informational Campaign Communications along with the local independent Vote Yes committees. In addition, we supported two state library associations partners in their statewide voter outreach about education funding measures that would impact school libraries.
All of our work with libraries on the ballot is pro-bono because of our donors' support.
Of the 79 library elections we tracked, 13 have no reliable information available from either local election authorities or news sources. We have omitted those from this narrative. Of the reportable 66 election, 48 (72%) passed their measures; 13 (20%) failed in their attempt, including both statewide education measures; and 4 (6%) remain 'too close to call' as of this writing. These results look significantly less positive for libraries than the 2017 elections were and are more in line with recent averages.
Notable wins include the Kansas City (MO) Public Library with an 84% Yes vote; the Ypsilanti (MI) Library District with a 70% Yes vote, and the New Mexico GOBonds for Libraries passing with a +68% vote. We are relieved to report that the Woodstock (NY) Library 'dissolution' question was defeated as well. Ohio libraries were very strong last night as well as annual budget votes in the Mid-Hudson region of New York.
On the loss side, we are troubled by the defeat of a new millage in Vineland, NJ. The library budget was unexpectedly cut by 37% earlier this year by the city. Without the new funding, the furloughs and cuts they have been managing under will become permanent. Libraries like Anythink, Stark County (OH), and Boulder City, NV., all saw their supplemental funding requests turned down by voters. At this writing, Pine River Library in Bayfield, CO. is - despite record turnout - 10 votes shy of passing.
The 2018 "From Awareness to Funding" study (OCLC, ALA) showed a significant decline in voter support for libraries over 10 years (from the 2008 sample). There is an real softness in the level of support voters have for library funding. For example, those voters who would definitely vote yes for the library as fallen from 37% of all voters to only 27% of voters nationally. The most ardent 'supper supporters' (about 6.5% of the electorate overall) still report liking the library (80%) and appreciating the librarians (78%), but their willingness to vote yes for taxes has eroded down to 64% from a high of 80% ten years ago. We know from the data that the gap between funding and likeability is widening in this country.We are concerned that the 2017 results for library elections were a progressive-influenced anomaly and we have returned to the trend line. As a mission-driven organization, EveryLibrary is working to close this gap, but our entire industry needs to change its approach to advocacy in order to accomplish this.
All results are Unofficial. Most come from a local elections office or a local newspaper. Results are only current as of 9am EST on Wednesday, November 7, 2018.
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