Election Day 2015 – First Look
Library elections are 'evergreen' campaigns. They can happen any time of the year, and do. From primaries and special elections to state and municipal off-cycle elections to general elections, libraries on the ballot.
Yesterday, November 3rd, we saw at least 43 libraries in 12 states go before the voters to renew basic tax funding or ask to expand revenue for facilities, staffing, programs, collections, and other services. EveryLibrary provided direct support to six of these library communities with pro-bono training and coaching for the staff and boards, and free advising and consulting the local Vote YES committees. We are proud of the work we did with each campaign and can report that 3 have won their measures and 3 have lost.
The Cedar Rapids (IA) Public Library lost their $1.6 million levy lift 46% to 54%. We provided extensive tactical support to the staff and board on planning and executing the Informational communications campaign. We supported the Our Library Our Community Committee as they did extensive door-to-door Get out The Vote work across the community targeting frequent voters, and contributed to their media outreach efforts to the media and through social networks, including a last minute push by Vote No forces in town. This followed our logistical and tactical support in late summer to field a successful petition drive that placed the measure on the ballot. and their GOTV work.
The Meridian (ID) Library District lost a $12 million building bond for two new libraries in the fastest growing city in the state. A super majority of 66.7% was needed to pass and the measure received 59% yes. We trained their staff on doing effective Info-Only outreach while providing editorial advice on their communications campaign. The YES for Meridian Library committee did extensive door-to-door and social media work to talk to voters, especially at the end of the campaign when they faced significant negative mailings from a yet to be identified anti-tax group. EveryLibrary provided an early donation to help kick off their GOTV efforts and a late donation to respond to the Vote No messages in the community.
The Millbrook Free Library in New York won a "414" measure for $130,000 in new, stable annual tax support with 71% of the vote. This is a supplemental levy would fix a structural deficit for the library. We did extensive Plan A / Plan B communications training with their staff and board, and we provided an early "challenge donation" to the Say YES to Millbrook Library committee to support their GOTV efforts and bring in new, small donors as partners in the success of the library, long term. Our support included consulting on GOTV messaging and tactics.
The Eugene (OR) Public Library won a special 5-year, $2.7 million levy to provide funding for staff, collections, programs, and services at $3 per household with almost 53% of the vote. We did in-person training and Plan A / Plan B messaging support for their able staff while providing the Vote Yes for Libraries committee with an early “challenge donation" to help with their fundraising efforts, along with consulting on social media and direct voter engagement techniques around town.
The Washington County Cooperative Library System in Oregon won an $8 million levy renewal with a 65% Yes vote (it is about 33% of their funding at a .22 mill rate). We supported their staff early in the Information Only communications process and they engaged throughout the campaign with a wide range of community stakeholder, organizations, and agencies across a diverse geographic service area, and we were happy to endorse the People for Libraries committee in their campaign.
When we announced our Fall 2015 campaigns, we mentioned that several were confidential until Election Day. One that we can now talk about was Portage County Library District in Ohio. PCLD was on the ballot for the 8th time in 10 years, attempting to start a new dedicated mill levy in the county for library services. Currently, the system relies exclusively on state aid to run the entire library system. Unfortunately, the measure lost with 46% yes to 54% no. This referendum was for $2.6 million new mill levy that would essentially double the operating revenue for the library and promising a dramatic increase in services, collections, and staffing for residents and users. We provided training, coaching and encouragement to their staff for this 8th run at new revenue, helping them to frame the community discussion around Plan A and Plan B, along with advice on the tactics to reach across the county with their message about possible new outcomes if the measure passed. We also provided the Citizens for the Library committee with seed money for their GOTV efforts along with extensive training and support for a new approach to social media engagement.
Other Library Elections Around the Country
The preliminary results for libraries around the country last night was pretty strong. Unofficial results for all 43 libraries we've been tracking look like 7 losses and 36 wins. Year to date, that brings 2015's approximate total to 80 wins and 20 losses. There are a few more Election Days yet to come through the end of the year, including one more we're backing. We're sharing the list, below, with the caveat that none of the results are official or certified.
November 3, 2015 Unofficial Library Elections Results
as of 11/4/15 10:00am est
*If you know of other library elections on the November 3rd ballot, please email us the results (with a link, please) and we'll add it to the list.
We can only do our work through the support of our donors. With these 3 wins added to our earlier campaign wins in 2015 like New Orleans and River East Il, our donors have helped secure millions of dollars in stable tax money for libraries. We'll have our new ROI calculation to you after our final 2015 campaign wraps up later this month. But to date, for every donor dollar we've put to work on library YES campaigns, we've returned $1,300 to libraries on an annual tax revenue basis. You can be a part of this success at the ballot box - and ensure the financial stability of libraries - by donating today.