Since the Election, EveryLibrary’s leadership team has listened as Americans have grappled with fundamental issues about our country in order to build our agenda for 2017 and beyond. We started EveryLibrary to help ensure that thousands of local libraries in diverse communities have the resources they need to help people succeed. Whether it is with public libraries going to the ballot, school librarians trying to influence state education policy, or academic librarians serving their campuses for the next generation, we have a hope for the future of America’s libraries and librarians. We believe that each and every library should be funded to best serve their local communities. We know that when librarians are empowered, communities prosper, campuses succeed, and students thrive.
Since Election Day, we have been watching closely as President-Elect Trump and Vice President-Elect Pence, Speaker Ryan, and Senator McConnell unveil their approach to governing. Their nominations to the Cabinet and to federal agencies, and their appointments to Chair key congressional Committees, are signaling a policy framework that will shrink government and cut funding for education, healthcare, jobs creation, and social programs. They have all been very clear in their policy priorities that will shrink the federal government, re-envision the federal tax code, devolve more responsibility and authority to local and state government, and especially devalue many of the social issues that libraries help solve.
We have no reason to expect this administration not to follow-through on implementing what they have said they will do. It is reasonable for us to expect that federal funding and programmatic support for education, social welfare, healthcare, citizen’s rights, and workforce development will shrink. Local and state governments will have to fill in the gaps and pick up the slack. As this policy agenda is implemented, there will be a greater need for libraries to serve diverse populations with a myriad of needs at exactly the time when there will be increased demands on the local tax base. As an organization dedicated to building voter support for libraries, EveryLibrary is concerned that anti-government and anti-tax attitudes are growing among voters. We are troubled that bias, bigotry and division could be the foundation for public policy and tax priorities. The library elections we have supported have seen first hand how groups like the Tea Party and the Koch Brothers target libraries at the ballot box. We know that we need to bring more pro-library people, smarter money, and better voter data to this fight.
It is nearly definite that there will be a significant shift away from federal programs and funding that support libraries resulting in a greater burden placed on local and state government. EveryLibrary is continuing to anticipate, identify, and understand the important work that needs to be done with and for local library communities. Our concerns for the future of libraries touches all levels of government, but our priorities for political action are focused at the local and state levels. EveryLibrary is committed to building on our success at the local level and extending our core work in six key ways:
- We will redouble our efforts to support local library communities that go the ballot to renew or extend their basic taxpayer approved funding, and cultivate opportunities for libraries that want to enhance services and facilities through municipal budgets or voter approved measures.
- We will join and support coalitions that align with the mission of libraries as institutions, that promote and extend the rights and prosperity of the people our libraries serve, and protect the rights, employment, and pensions of the people who work in all types of libraries.
- We will continue to build a unique and extensive network of Americans who believe in the power of libraries to change lives and build communities, and who are ready to become advocates and activists for libraries.
- We will support the role of library boards and commissions in governing libraries, making policy, and setting budgets that are responsive to diverse local priorities and create inclusive, prosperous, and vibrant communities.
- We will continue to broaden our focus beyond Public Library funding and speak in support of School Library programs as effective solutions for some of the biggest problems facing schools and districts around the country. We will assist to our colleagues in Academic Libraries who need institutional support from their administrations and students.
- We will be a leader and a listener in a national discussion about the role that public, academic, and school libraries have in people’s lives, and work within the profession and across civil society to find the best ways to preserve, protect, and extend everyone’s right to use libraries.
We are proud of our success in helping dozens of public library communities win new or renewed funding at the ballot box, and proud of our role as partners with library stakeholders who successfully negotiated for enhanced funding with village, town, city, and county government. Over the years, our work has grown to support state library associations in their work opposing legislation that would hamper public library services or impede good library governance. After the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), we’ve worked with state school library associations on regulations that enhance school library policy. Americans from all walks of life have joined our unique and powerful network of library activists to help affect positive changes for libraries and librarians in communities all across the country.
Libraries are a uniquely American experiment in democracy. EveryLibrary needs your help and support to do this all this work. We are only able to fulfill our mission because of our donors. There are no big-money private donors who finance our activities. There are no “dark money” think tanks that advance libraries as an agenda. EveryLibrary is built and supported by volunteers and donors who want to see a more connected and more interesting local community with a library at its center.
Please help us reach more people across the political spectrum by sharing about our work on Facebook and Twitter. If you agree in whole or in part with our approach, please donate. We cannot put this 2017 Agenda to work without your help.