EveryLibrary is the first and only national organization dedicated to building voter support for libraries when they are on the ballot. We do this in three ways: by training library staff, trustees, and volunteers to plan and run effective Information Only campaigns; by assisting local Vote Yes committees on planning and executing Get Out the Vote work for their library’s measure; and by speaking directly to the public about the value and relevance of libraries and librarians. Our focus on activating voters on Election Day is unique in the library advocacy ecosystem. This is reflected in the training and coaching we do for campaigns.
To run a successful library ballot measure, two key groups of stakeholders need to activated: the library board and staff as an Information Only team and the local Vote YES committee. EveryLibrary works with both groups in important but different ways. The library's Information Only team is limited in what they can and cannot say on public time and with public resources. They need specific, experienced guidance for their outreach efforts. EveryLibrary provides specialized Information Only training and coaching to staff, trustees, and volunteers that helps them be effective communicators.
Our Information Only Training Philosophy
We base our Information Only campaign training on data about voter behavior that demonstrates two equally important facts for Election Day: that the perception of the library as a “transformational institution” in the community matters to voters; and, simultaneously, that the perception of librarians as “change-agents” for the community also matters to voters. Our training and coaching for Information Only campaigns is designed to update the perception of the library as a relevant and active institution in the community while we coach staff on opportunities to be more visible themselves as active partners for community-based outcomes.
Our Information Only trainings also address an unfortunate and long-standing misperception that those who work in publicly funded libraries cannot speak about a ballot measure on public time or with public money. EveryLibrary takes a position that the library staff and trustees have a responsibility to tell the public about what a ballot measure will do if it passes, and what will happen if it does not. In many library elections, a strategic plan or building plan is the impetus to go out for a vote. We train and coach on how to best represent “The Plan” for the library to voters. Because we base our training and coaching on the strategic or building plan for that library, staff have a legitimate reason to communicate the information about that plan – on public time and with public funds – so voters can make a decision about their own library.
Because we understand that voters are activated not just by their perception of the institution but by their view of the librarians and staff, EveryLibrary roots our training and coaching on the best practices used by political campaigns to feature their candidates’ biography and vision for communities. While the library strategic or building plan speaks to the institutional relevance, the techniques we feature in our trainings encourage and empower staff to recognize their role as the personification of that institution’s work. We know that library users and non-users behave differently on Election Days – as voters – than they do the rest of the year and we train the staff, trustees, and volunteers to anticipate that.
Engaging EveryLibrary to Train and Coach
Our training team works with library leadership as early as possible in the campaign planning calendar. We begin by interviewing the director, the management team, and the library board concerning the type and timing of the ballot measure, the strategic or building plan for the library, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the library staff and citizen-leaders. We also assess the communication and outreach skills of the staff and volunteer pool, clarify the current political and civic climate in the community, and address the perception of the library in the community relative to other stakeholder groups. EveryLibrary likewise offers information about our philosophy and training approach to the library. When a decision is made to host training sessions or to engage in a longer-term coaching relationship, it is done mutually. Our training and coaching is provided free of charge to the library through the support of our donors.
Each training is customized and informed by our understanding of the library’s current strategic or facilities plan, its local political and civic situation, and the level of experience that staff, trustees, and volunteers have with outbound communications. While we evaluate and prioritize an outreach plan based on each ballot measure and library, we focus on three specific outcomes for each training:
- Improve staff, trustee, and volunteer familiarity with ballot-specific issues
- Improve staff, trustee, and volunteer competency with Information Only campaign techniques
- Improve staff, trustee, and volunteer understanding of legal and ethical issues for Information Only campaigns
Our trainings are interactive learning and discussion sessions that take between a half- and full-day, depending on need. Each session includes personal and group work that is practical and actionable, along with active learning about both the theory and practice of campaigning. Our priorities are based on how close we are to Election Day as well as the practical needs of the library staff, trustees, and volunteer leadership. EveryLibrary does not engage in day-to-day management of Information Only campaigns for libraries. Our work as trainers and coaches is intended to fill in the gaps in information and skill-sets.
Vote Yes Committees and Local "Get Out the Vote"
The local Vote YES committee is able to conduct the a full range of Get Out the Vote activities, and EveryLibrary provides consulting and capacity-building to help them succeed.
EveryLibrary works with citizen groups around the country to help them be effective supporters for their libraries on Election Day. We work as free consultants and advisors to fill-in knowledge and skills gaps to help neighbors encourage neighbors to Vote YES for their library. EveryLibrary is experienced in providing local ballot committees with both high-level and in-the-trenches perspectives on voter engagement. Our focus is to find the most effective ways to leverage volunteer committee activity for the library.
Our pro-bono work with Vote YES committees can start as early as 2-years out from a ballot measure or as close in as 2 weeks before an Election. We tailor our consulting and advising to the needs that the committee has for technical assistance, marketing and outreach, GOTV work, fundraising, and endorsements. EveryLibrary is not a day-to-day campaign management company. We often work alongside full-time local political consultants to provide a library-specific perspective on voter communication, activation, and mobilization.
EveryLibrary helps libraries:
- Assist libraries in both the pre-filing and campaign stages of an initiative.
- Provide strategic consulting services, voter segmentation advice, and assistance in developing ballot language.
- Conduct feasibility studies and assist in setting up a local committee or PAC.
- Provide free tools, data, and digital support to the ballot committee or PAC
- Develop a fundraising strategy for your local committee or PAC.
- Train volunteers in voter education and get-out-the-vote techniques.
During the campaign, EveryLibrary:
- Continues technical and capacity-building consultancy.
- Provide direct financial support to the local committee or PAC in seed-stage or sustaining levels of support.
- Provide free tools, data, and digital support to the ballot committee or PAC
- Conduct direct voter education and get-out-the-vote efforts.
EveryLibrary stands ready to help fund local ballot committee work. We fundraise nationally to provide either seed or sustaining money for GOTV and voter engagement. Not every campaign committee needs funding. But when our contribution can help you with local matching or challenge fundraising, or when our national donor pool can be put to work with ‘11th-hour’ campaign outreach, we are proud to announce our support.