Annual Report: Libraries 2020 Launch
The EveryLibrary Institute and EveryLibrary launched the Libraries 2020 Campaign, a first of its kind nationwide voter engagement campaign for libraries, in December. Using modern, advanced voter engagement strategies, the Libraries 2020 campaign will build political power, lasting public engagement, and true voter support for library funding across the country. The Libraries 2020 campaign brings the skills, competencies, and successes of both the EveryLibrary Institute, a non-profit library think tank focused on the future of library funding, and EveryLibrary, the only national political action committee for libraries.
Across the country, we are seeing a significant decline in political support for libraries by local, state, and federal elected officials, regardless of party. Over the years, cuts have come from both progressive and conservative leadership. Libertarian thought-leaders are already aligned against the core concept of using taxes to fund the public good. It is a significant problem for the library industry is that we are losing support among both conservative and progressive voters. Those of us who have participated in legislative days at the state level often hear from politicians on both sides of the partisan divide say that libraries are a “nice to have” and not a “need to have” and therefore are subject to cuts in times of budget shortages.
Download the entire 2019 Annual Report today!
Through campaign public opinion polling and through the data in the “From Awareness to Funding” studies (OCLC 2008 and 2018) we know that both political sides will support libraries if given the opportunity and, most critically, if they are spoken to in the political language that they understand. That means that if we speak to conservatives using conservative language about libraries, then they will support libraries. If we speak a progressive language to progressive voters, they too will support libraries. For example, if we speak to conservative voters about connecting marginalized communities to government services, then they are unlikely to support libraries. But if we talk to those same voters about libraries giving people the ability to pick themselves up and put themselves back to work, then they are highly likely to support libraries.
In both cases, we are not changing the work, activities, or services provided by libraries to the community. We are changing voters’ perception of libraries and messaging to them based on their deeply held beliefs and how library services intersect with those beliefs. While libraries are well-loved and highly used across the county, their funding is often at-risk during election cycles. There are significant challenges to reaching people who care about libraries in the current political climate and social media environment. Libraries 2020 will be the first national library voter engagement campaign to conduct robust public polling and use professional focus groups to understand, shape, and track sentiments. A national voter engagement campaign of this size and scope has never been attempted for libraries in the United States. Our goal is to leverage all our experiences across the EveryLibrary Institute and EveryLibrary to understand voter sentiments and the messaging that builds public support for libraries in 2020.
Donate today to help us support libraries in 2020.
School libraries and school librarianship will be a core focus of the Libraries 2020 campaign. We want to see real change happen with a better future of school library funding and the role of certified school librarians. This can only be accomplished by directly engaging with school boards, school board candidates, superintendents, and principals about the role and impact of effective library programs and by identifying, cultivating, and empowering more Americans to demand school librarians in their schools. The Libraries 2020 campaign will build on EveryLibrary’s successes with the SaveSchoolLibrarians.org advocacy initiatives and employ similar digital and real-world engagements with parents, school board members, and stakeholders for real and lasting change.
The EveryLibrary Institute will harness the power of voter and public perception research and the capacities within the philanthropic giving community to help sustain a robust, smart, and targeted campaign. Together, the EveryLibrary Institute and EveryLibrary will utilize their networks across the library community, within the political field, and beyond the library sector in order to position the Libraries 2020 campaign to be successful.
As 2020 opens, we are looking for funding partners and networking partners to help us create the voter-facing and elected official-facing research, polling, and messaging needed to support public engagement about library funding and the role of librarians in communities and schools across the United States. You can support this work as a donor and a connector. Please visit Libraries2020.org to be a part of this important campaign.