Annual Report: National Partnerships to Support Libraries
Throughout 2019 we were able to join a multitude of coalitions and partnerships to advance the role of libraries in the United States.
Voter Registration and Libraries
In 2019 we renewed our commitments to connect libraries across the country with two key voter registration initiatives. In April, EveryLibrary was welcomed as a national steering committee member for the National Voter Registration Day coalition. Alongside other leaders from Vote.org, Rock the Vote, AARP, the NAACP, and the League of Women Voters, EveryLibrary is focused on ensuring that libraries are at the forefront of non-partisan voter registration efforts across the country. In July we celebrated our third year as the library partnership coordinators for National Disability Voter Registration Week, sponsored by the American Association for People with Disabilities (AAPD). Over 270 libraries in communities and on campuses across the country are now running dedicated voter registration campaigns in coordination with local disability rights and independent living organizations.
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Entrepreneurship and Rural Libraries
EveryLibrary was the national library partnership coordinator for National Entrepreneurship Week 2019. This is the third year of our coordinator role in this Congressionally-chartered celebration and showcase of the American entrepreneurial spirit. With sponsorship support from Gale, a Cengage Company, EveryLibrary helped create new connections for libraries and librarians with local, state, and regional networks that support entrepreneurs, start-ups, and small businesses. We know from working with libraries across diverse communities that the library is at the heart of the economic life of their communities. From the first idea that someone has for a business, a product, a service or a solution - and all the way to bring it to market - libraries and librarians are with those entrepreneurs every step of the way.
Rural Rise Summit
Our particular focus beyond National Entrepreneurship Week is on the role of libraries supporting entrepreneurship and innovation in rural America. A key component of this focus was our organizational sponsorship of the Rural Rise Summit in Pine Bluff, Arkansas this September. Public libraries are embedded in the fabric of every town, city, and county in this country. Fully 42% of all public libraries serve communities that are defined as “rural”. Over 26% serve towns of under 10,000 people. In many of these places, the public library is one of the only – if not the only – remaining institutional anchors. While we believe in the workforce mission of libraries, this program proposal looks to grow small businesses and create supports for entrepreneurs who have a scalable business in mind or in place. The Rural Rise Summit brought together policymakers and stakeholders from across the country. In addition to convening a session on libraries and e-ship services, EveryLibrary provided registration scholarships to four librarians serving rural communities and the state library of Arkansas.
Smart Cities Think Tank
In August, EveryLibrary was invited to join the national Smart Cities Think Tank initiative convened and sponsored by Dentons, LLP. This Smart Cities initiative brings together thought-leaders from government, academia, industry and non-governmental organizations to craft innovative legal, economic, security and policy solutions to help cities and communities leverage existing and emerging technological developments for the betterment of the lives of their citizens. At EveryLibrary, we believe that smart cities need a thriving and equitable knowledge infrastructure, and libraries are poised to provide it. Our involvement with the Think Tank enables us to work with 150 key industry leaders and policymakers from the public and private sectors on the role and impact of libraries on critical legal and policy issues facing cities and communities as they incorporate new technologies into their physical, digital and social infrastructure.
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National Digital Inclusion Alliance
We were excited to join the National Digital Inclusion Alliance in 2019 and to begin our outreach efforts to promote Digital Inclusion Week to more libraries across the country. Digital Inclusion Week is coordinated by several incredible library leaders and we are honored to be added to the working group. The National Digital Inclusion Alliance is a coalition of non-profits, municipal governments, public libraries, and regional library councils, college/university programs, state agencies, school districts, and housing authorities focused on issues of equity and access for home broadband access, public broadband access, and personal devices. We expect our involvement in the Alliance and Digital Inclusion Week to grow in 2020.
Controlled Digital Lending Coalition
EveryLibrary has taken the principled step of aligning our organization with the national Controlled Digital Lending (CDL) movement this year, including visits to Capitol Hill and writing about the concepts behind CDL for a general audience. We know that public libraries were founded in the United States on the belief that knowledge should be free and available to all. We believe that CDL can serve as a powerful tool for bridging the gap between print and electronic resources for readers and researchers and help to unlock the full potential of otherwise marooned assets in library collections.