Read Our 2021 Annual Report
EveryLibrary is uniquely focused on helping local libraries during political and funding crises, and state or national library organizational partners reach and activate the public about budgetary, legislative, or regulatory issues. In 2021, we were working hard to help support the funding future of school libraries and public libraries across the country.
Funding libraries is always a political decision. How we choose to tax ourselves and how our collective values are expressed in the town, state or federal budget is fundamentally what every fight for libraries is about. We see a clear correlation between our campaign activities and more jobs in public libraries and school libraries. Whether it was a campaign to save one school librarian's job, a public library election night, or a statewide effort to affect positive policy changes, our campaigns make a difference for the future of the sector.
In 2021, the EveryLibrary network of library activists now includes well over 220,000 individuals who had taken an active role in at least one pro library campaign. Through an ongoing partnership with Follett Learning, EveryLibrary continues to support school library budgets and school librarians through our SaveSchoolLibrarians.org digital action site and through advocacy partnerships with state school library associations and organizations. And as 2021 progressed, new censorship challenges have emerged for public and school libraries. For politicians looking to score points with their radicalized base, or performative anti-access crusaders hoping to advance their agendas, it is easier to challenge books and threaten library funding than it is to attack people. And yet, when books about the LGBTQ+ or BIPOC experience are challenged or removed, it is an attack on people; an attack that erases their stories and silences their voices.
LIBRARY BALLOT MEASURES
In 2021, EveryLibrary supported nine public library campaigns to establish, renew, or expand funding for operations, collections, programs, services, and staffing, or to issue a bond for construction or remodeling of library facilities, and one statewide education funding coalition campaign to benefit among its provisions school library program budgets.
Our library election night wins in 2021 included a renewal of the basic operational levy for the New Orleans Public Library which had been in place since 1986, a new operating levy for the Central Arkansas Library System in Little Rock, a first-ever local option levy for the Portage County (Ohio) Public Library, a renewal of the local option levy in St. Clairsville, OH., a bond in McCall, ID. to renovate and expand their library, a bond in Southington, CT., to build a new library, and a bond in Carthage, IL. as a local matching fund to a state construction grant. We were sorry for the loss in Pearl River, NY., where voters rejected a construction bond question.
DIRECT POLITICAL ACTIONS
In 2021, EveryLibrary was able to support dozens of public libraries that were trying to face down a political problem or who were attempting to embrace a political opportunity. Each and every community situation is different, so EveryLibrary begins its work by listening to the local stakeholders, assessing if their involvement will serve the sector’s best interests, and only then moving to build political power for the library.
Highlights include collaborative campaigns campaign to support the Save Niles-Maine Library Coalition where EveryLibrary worked alongside SEIU and the Coalition to expose the true impact of the library board's behavior to local elected officials, business and education interests and neighbors across the district. This was an unusual campaign because it focused on the behavior and intent of the library board itself. However, EveryLibrary believes that you may have to oppose a board when they have broken faith with the mission, vision, and values of libraries.
Other direct actions for public libraries include Ellsworth, ME. where the City Council cut the library budget. EveryLibrary helped create and field a strategy to activate the public for their library. In West Haven, CT., EveryLibrary continued a campaign against a branch closure and further cuts proposed by the Mayor and City Council by bringing out hundreds of supporters through a digital campaign. The Parish Council in Lafayette Parish, LA., forced the resignation of the library director and stacked the board with its allies in order to defund the library from within. EveryLibrary continues to support outreach alongside local stakeholders through digital campaigns to fight back.
2021 was a dynamic year in state government and Congress. EveryLibrary was the only national library organization to support a vaccine plan that would include librarians in the Phase 1B or 1C definition. They were disappointed when libraries were dropped from the Economic Justice Act as it moved to become the Infrastructure Plan under the Biden administration. Their petition to support Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act was the first to connect libraries with this important platform protection and their continued support for the Don't Block LGBTQ Act and opposition to the LAED Act, which would erode privacy protections, was unique among national library organizations.
SCHOOL LIBRARIAN-FOCUSED CAMPAIGNS
In early 2021, before federal ESSER stabilization funds were authorized under the American Rescue Plan, EveryLibrary fought against dozens of proposed cuts to school librarian positions from coast-to-coast. These included districts in the bellwether state of New Jersey where local administrators in The Chathams and Glen Ridge attempted to use the pandemic as cover for eliminating school librarians. The highlight of our 2021 advocacy campaign was a reversal by the administration of the District of Columbia Public Schools to allow principals to ‘excess’ school librarians and a new policy by the City Council to instead fund a school librarian in every school. For two years, EveryLibrary had campaigned alongside the Washington Teachers Union and school library stakeholders to reverse cuts and restore school librarians. Publishers Weekly designated this campaign as a Top 10 Library News Story for 2021. This campaign victory should inspire others to act sets the stage for new academic success for DCPS students.
EveryLibrary helped several state library associations in the lead-up to local 2021 elections by hosting candidate surveys to engage school board candidates and legislative candidates directly during the campaign season. Both the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association (PSLA) and the New Jersey Association of School Librarians (NJASL) designed and fielded non-partisan candidate surveys with EveryLibrary’s help and assistance. The goal was to learn about candidates’ awareness and interest in school library issues and policies as a component of their overall advocacy strategy. We also supported the Michigan Association for Media in Education effort to create a $800,000 grant program for collaboration between public libraries and certified school librarians in the budget, NJASL with their Information Literacy Standards Bill that advanced in the state Senate, and for PSLA, where over 30 new co-sponsors were added to their ratio bill.
JOIN US AS WE SUPPORT LIBRARIES
EveryLibrary is a national political action committee for libraries. Organized in 2012 as a 501(c)4, we provide pro bono advising and consulting to libraries about their funding requests, either when it appears on a ballot or through a municipal funding partner. Our school library-focused digital activism platform SaveSchoolLibrarians.org works to support school librarian positions and budgets for school library programs. Our national activist network in 2021 included over 364,000 Americans in our mailing list and across social media. EveryLibrary’s mission is to “build voter support for libraries” at all levels of government, and it works to fulfill that mission as a completely donor-supported organization.
We can only continue this fight for libraries in 2022 with your support. Please donate today and help us connect with more Americans who care about the future of libraries.
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