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More than 90% of library funding is determined at the local level, either by the will of elected officials or by voters themselves. There is a tremendous amount of speculation and hearsay about the internal and external factors that potentially influence the outcome for a library on Election Day - even before the campaign starts. In this important and groundbreaking study for the EveryLibrary Institute, the authors analyze over 700 library elections between 2014 and 2018 across 50 variables taken from the IMLS Public Library Survey for each library and the American Community Survey (ACS) for each locality to try and dispel the conventional wisdom for library leaders.
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"This study aims to demonstrate what library-level activities and/or community-level characteristics can be correlated to a library ballot question's success or failure. Our approach focused on both intrinsic and extrinsic factors to understand two things:
- Is there a set of conditions that will largely predetermine the results on Election Day?
- Are there any specific management-choices that can be made in the lead-up to a campaign to create those conditions?
We chose to focus on intrinsic library-level activities like programs, collections, hours, technology, and staffing levels because—to a large extent—these factors are controlled by the library leadership team. We also looked at community-level demographics and characteristics like wealth, education, and tax rates to learn if there were any determinants of the outcome that were simply beyond the control of library leadership."
In the ten years since the Great Recession, more than 1,400 ballot measure questions about public library funding or building projects have been placed before the voters on local Election Days. As COVID-related budgetary pressures cause more libraries to look to the ballot for financial relief or stability, it is mission-critical for library leaders to understand the factors that truly matter and the effort it takes to win an election for their library. Register now to download this free report.