Lib Politics Rodeo May 13, 2014

We just went through the early May election cycle and are happy to see that there were a lot of wins for libraries out there last week. In the Ouachita Parish Library (LA) May 3 election, a 10 year renewal of a 7.64 mill tax that funds 93% of the library budget passed 3,651-627.

Welcome to the Lib Politics Rodeo. Every Tuesday we will round up the previous week’s news on library politics and highlight some of the things that we are following or reading. Here’s what we have in our lassos this week…

Were moving the Rodeo down one day in the week in another attempt to stay current. Now for the special 3 week update...

May election roundup:

We just went through the early May election cycle and are happy to see that there were a lot of wins for libraries out there last week.

In the Ouachita Parish Library (LA) May 3 election, a 10 year renewal of a 7.64 mill tax that funds 93% of the library budget passed 3,651-627. In the Hopkinton Public Library (MI) May 5 election voters approved an 11.8 million dollar bond to expand the library. There is another election on May 19 for a debt exclusion override that also needs to be passed for the project to move forward. In the Elyria Library (OH) May 6 election a 1.9 mill tax levy passed by 60 % or 4,727 to 3,108. In the Kalamazoo Library (MI) May 6 election a renewal of 1.18-mill for 20 years passed by a 3-1 margin.

However, in Birmingham (MI), voters came out against a 21.5 million dollar bond to renovate and expand the Bladwin Library. 76% voted no. There was a vocal opposition to this bond.

Big big news:

The Coalition to Save Our Libraries started by EveryLibrary and Urban Librarians Unite continues its advocacy for a higher level of funding for the Miami-Dade Libraries (FL). On April 23, they addressed city commissioners at a finance hearing asking to increase the funding from the projected next year's budget of $30 million to $64 million. Deep cuts would result if the funding is not increased and the coalition brought over a dozen speakers to emphasize the value of libraries and the importance of not keeping the funding below what is needed.

It’s a textbook example of grassroots community groups advocating on behalf of critical—and beleaguered—public institutions. There are similar examples of “friends of” groups trying to preserve and enhance government institutions, either through fundraising or advocacy, across America’s big cities.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                --from NPQ

There was also a post from EveryLibrary campaign advisor Melissa Gardner on the Illinois Libraries Matter blog about effective door-to-door campaigning for libraries. Melissa takes you through 5 steps of planning and executing a door-to-door campaign. A tactic that we strongly recommend for all of the local ballot committees we work with.


We learned of 4 new fall elections this week.

In Castle Rock (WA) voters will be asked to approve an annual renewal of the library levy. This will raise $58,820 for the library in 2015. If the August 5 ballot measure fails, the library will go out again for the renewal on the November ballot. Also, in May 2015 there will be a ballot measure for a library district in Castle Rock to eliminate having to vote yearly for funding. The White Lake Township Library (MI) is asking voters on the August 5 ballot for a 8 year millage renewal. This is not an increase of the current 0.4528 mill that provides about $437,000 for the library each year.

In Kanawha (WV) the school board voted to put the library levy on the November 4 ballot. In the March 31st rodeo we reported that a joint levy with the school board in Kanawha failed last year and because of the current funding relationship with the school board the library had to ask the school board to get this measure on the ballot. Also in November the Gail Borden Library district in Elgin (IL) will ask voters to expand the district by annexing about 870 additional households from areas in Elgin along the current district border.  The 870 households to be annexed will be given library cards on November 4th that will expire on November 5th if the measure does not pass.

We learned of a strong and organized opposition against the library tax in Monroeville (PA).  We donated $1,000 to the Yes to Libraries, Yes to Monroeville committee for media outreach to help reset the conversation on libraries in their community. This was not in our 2014 budget, but we felt it was important enough to do. Can you help cover us by donating at today? If we - the library community - don't answer this, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

That’s all for today. Join us next week for another round up. Happy trails!