Annual Report: State Legislative Advocacy and Funding for Libraries

EveryLibrary always works to help the legitimate library stakeholder amplify its own agenda and voice.

EveryLibrary always works to help the legitimate library stakeholder amplify its own agenda and voice.

EveryLibrary is not an agenda-setting organization. At the local level, the agenda is always the library board and staff’s plan for the library. At the federal level it is how IMLS, through consultations with the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies, frames the funding formula for LSTA. And at the state level it is through the collaborations between the state library association and the state libraries on the policy and funding agenda. In 2019, we provided pro-bono tactical and strategic supports to several of our partner-organizations to advance their legislative and funding agendas. 

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New Jersey Library Association (NJLA) 
Funding for the library per capita state aid program was drastically cut under Governor Christie’s first budget in FY10. This decline in per capita state aid has taken a toll on local library services. EveryLibrary supported NJLA’s statewide outreach to the public about am increase to the Library Per Capita State Aid Program. This is an ongoing advocacy campaign into 2020 with good momentum building for a positive outcome. 

Alaska Library Association (AkLA) 
In July, Governor Dunleavy vetoed critical funding that included the Online with Libraries (OWL) program that ensures critical funding for basic internet services through libraries across the state, and especially in remote areas. We campaigned to activate the public and reach the Legislature to ask them to override the veto. The legislature failed to pass that override. It is only through the dedicated work of the State Library that at 50 of the smallest and most remote libraries still have some internet access. 

Iowa, Florida, and Pennsylvania Legislative Day Trainings and State-wide Outreach 
The EveryLibrary team worked closely with these three state library associations in 2019 to reach and activate their public in support of their Legislative Days. We are proud to be invited to partner with the Iowa Library Association (ILA), the Florida Library Association (FLA) and the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association (PSLA) on these unique and high-impact campaigns. We created legislative day trainings to help both novice and experienced member-advocates be successful. But we went beyond training and deployed our Action platform and digital advertising to reach and activate the public in advance of each Legislative Day. This statewide digital outreach meant that when members visited with their legislators the legislators had already heard from their constituents about key library issues. 

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We have the skills, tools, and experience to help state-level membership organizations extend their influence by reaching and activating the public. Our approach is a significant shift in how statewide advocacy and Legislative Days are done in our industry. We know that building political power and influence for libraries means not only showing up as a profession to lobby for our interests. It also means having the public – as constituents of their elected officials – on record and visible in support of that agenda as well. Through our Libraries 2020 campaign we plan to continue these kinds of support for state library association partners as they continue to advance their legislative, policy, and funding agendas.