Library Advocacy and Funding Conference Draws 1,000+ Leaders
Earlier this week, library leaders from around the world gathered online to learn and collaborate on effective advocacy and funding techniques beyond standard storytelling methods participating in the Library Advocacy and Funding Virtual Conference, on September 14th-September 16th. All presenters were hand-selected from some of the largest campaigns, advocacy groups, fundraising organizations, and large corporations to deliver new ideas, strategies and tactics for rebuilding support for library funding.
With a total attendance of 1,061 people from the US, Canada, UK, EU, Japan, India, and Australia, library leaders were able to network and collaborate on solutions to library funding problems. The conference included fifty-two top-quality programs and sessions from leaders in the political, philanthropic, and policy sectors focused on improving funding for libraries.
Twenty-two library industry corporate sponsors supported free access to the conference for state and provincial library leaders and scholarships for unemployed library workers. Sponsors included Bibliotheca, Follett Learning, Mango Languages, Gale, LibrayAware, and Counting Opinions.
“I was excited about the opportunity to bring experts from outside of libraries to share a deeper knowledge of political tactics with our library community,” says Patrick Sweeney, Political Director and co-founder of EveryLibrary Institute. “With over 90% of library funding coming from the will of the voters or local politicians, it’s critically important for library leaders to understand modern, effective techniques for building power and influence. I am proud of LAFCON’s role convening and leading our sector.”
One attendee said of the conference: “I have a 25-page document of notes that I intend on summarizing and presenting to various team members at my library. I highlighted many actionable steps that will show ways that we can put this information to use today.”
eMeasures Survey Preliminary Report Released
During the conference, the EveryLibrary Institute and Counting Opinions released a preliminary report of their eMeasures Survey and Count week of public library activities. 596 public libraries from US and Canada participated in the survey. The survey gathered information about COVID-related shutdowns and safe re-openings. Preliminary findings include:
- 471 of 505 respondents were open for curbside services as the pandemic progressed. 129 of 508 libraries are still closed for in-library services whether at full or reduced capacity. 10 libraries never closed to the public.
- 384 of 531 libraries were able to pivot to run an online summer reading club. 306 of 595 reported using online library-card registrations and almost all of them (302) had new users register.
- 357 reported lending technology and devices while 422 developed more virtual content and 76% overall saw increased usage since the start of the shutdowns.
Some troubling insights from the survey are that while 60% of respondents reported investing more of their budget on collections, technology or services, fully 52% of libraries saw a decrease in donations and 30% experienced an immediate budget from their local tax base. More than half of the libraries reported anticipating a budget cut in the near future.
“Great sessions, looking forward to sharing with fellow librarians,” another attendee said, reflecting on their time at the conference.
This fact is a key reason that the Library Advocacy and Funding Conference was focused on stabilizing and increasing revenue, taxes, donations for libraries. With so many uncertainties looming, it is critical for library leaders to be prepared with information and forecasting data as well as empowered with new and effective skills for political action, donor cultivation, and campaigns, and power building.
“Several policy-focused sessions talked seriously about the coming revenue crisis for states, municipalities, and education,” says John Chrastka, executive director, EveryLIbrary and the EveryLibrary Institute. “COVID-shutdowns have negatively impacted tax revenues at the time that the government and schools need more resources to serve. Smart library leaders are paying attention to their local funding but also understand that without relief for states and localities from Congress the next stimulus bill, the impacts on libraries will be so much more severe. I’m proud that LAFCON’s programs brought home how interconnected libraries are with the rest of government and education.” The full report will be released by Counting Opinions and the EveryLibrary Institute on September 24th, 2020.
In all, attendees at the Library Advocacy and Funding Conference had an opportunity to learn from over 50 pre-recorded sessions. Proceeds from the conference were dedicated to building the advocacy ecosystem for libraries in the US and abroad. Following the conference, EveryLibrary Institute is donating 25% of registration fees to state library associations (or a national library association if outside the United States) in order to help these associations weather difficult financial times.
EveryLibrary is a 501c4 political action committee dedicated to building voter support for libraries. Since 2012, EveryLibrary has provided donor-supported pro-bono advising and consulting to 63 library campaigns helping to win over $220 million in stable tax funding. Beginning in 2016, EveryLibrary has provided strategic and tactical support to school library communities on education and tax policy, along with supporting dozens of challenges to school library budgets and school librarian positions in schools and districts across the country.
ABOUT EVERYLIBRARY INSTITUTE:
The EveryLibrary Institute is a national 501c3 non-profit with a mission to support libraries and librarians in the United States and abroad. We partner with allied organizations including foundations, philanthropic organizations, associations, non-profits, and academic institutions to enhance the perception of libraries and librarianship through direct engagement with the public.