National Library Week is Almost Here

Lib Politics RodeoThis post on National Library Week was written by EveryLibrary board member Brian D. Hart.

The American Library Association’s National Library Week occurs April 12-18, 2015. This year’s theme is “Unlimited possibilities @ your library”.  Having benefited, both personally and professionally, from countless exchanges of information and ideas that have occurred in libraries, I could not be happier with this year’s theme and look forward to not only recognizing National Library Week, but also raising awareness in the coming weeks.

However, as we prepare to celebrate this annual observance, those of us who serve and/or advocate for libraries should also be encouraged to explore the unlimited possibilities that exist outside of the library.

Where, when and with whom have we not spoken about the benefits of libraries or the willingness and expertise of our libraries’ staff?  How might we go about broadening or helping the library broaden its customer base?

These are possibilities that we must also concern ourselves with as we seek to both continue to serve our customers and share the many possible ways in which this service can and has impacted individual lives and entire communities.

For inspiration on how your library and librarians can explore possibilities outside of the physical space, consider these exemplary examples of advocacy and calls for outreach:

A guide for Library Card Sign Up Month (also just around the corner in September) written by our Executive Director John Chrastka. What better way to share your library with the community than to go door to door for library card sign ups? You don’t have to wait until September to do this. This guide can help you plan.

Melody Sky Eisler is the new director of Port Townsend Public Library (WA) and she is looking forward to reaching out to the community outside of the library walls.

“We should get out and meet people where they are and connect with them, with programs like pop-up libraries or running a booth at the farmers market”

This week’s Lib Elections News

Big news in Louisiana this week. Word is getting out about the May ballot measure for the New Orleans Public Library for a new 2.5 mill tax expected to raise $8.25 million annually in addition to the 3.14 mill that the library already collects. This is the first new tax since Hurricane Katrina. Great news coverage including coverage of an event and interview with the library director. The Baton Rouge Metro Council members talked recently about reducing the library millage to fund a new mental health center after voting down a tax proposal. Improving the mental health facilities is important, but not at the cost of defunding the library.  Makes us think back to Lafrourche when we first put our Rapid Response idea to test. Speaking of LaFourche, there will be two library taxes coming up for renewal at the end of 2016. Last week, the Library Board proposed placing these measures on the May ballot, but that was voted against by Parish Council members. While not ideal, hopefully this is only a delay for them.

Colfax Public Library (WI) has a measure on their April 7 ballot to see how residents want to proceed with remodeling or relocating the current library. Built in 1915, the library is not ADA compliant and does not provide spaces for technology and programs that patrons expect. Voters will be able to choose from 4 options “construct a new stand-alone library; construct a multifunctional building for the library, village administration and Colfax Police Department; expand the library to the basement of Village Hall; or leave everything as is.” The vote is advisory only.

We were able to add three more elections to our tracking of the May 5 election date. Officials in Adrian city (MI) want to form an independent taxing district for the public library to be funded by property taxes at 2.5 mill each year for 10 years. Currently there is a city library funded by a 1 mill per year tax that would be replaced by the new tax. The city has had  a budget shortfall for last 3 years and has had trouble keeping funding levels up for the library. The Baraga County (MI) Board of Commissioners approved a 0.5 mill levy to support the L’Anise Area School Public Library. Currently this library is open to the public, but paid for by the school district. This is expected to raise $121,000 annually.  This will allow the school district to dedicate the $80,000 per year it spends on the library back to the schools and give the library authority to collect taxes independently. The Lane Libraries System (OH) will be seeking a renewal of its 0.75 mill levy for 10 years. Previously approved for 5 years, this levy covers about 35 percent of the operating expenses for the library making its approval necessary to maintain current hours and services.

Our Information Only training often involves talking through how staff at publicly funded institutions may participate in political activity. Get out the vote and Vote Yes work is always under the purview of a separately organized local ballot committee. However, each state provides varying levels of allowance for staff doing political activity. The Nation Conference of State Legislators provides this helpful resource of statutes from each state.  Know what the law says and don’t be afraid.

Other Happenings

Yesterday we announced the addition of Brian D. Hart to the EveryLibrary Board. He authored the National Library Week story in this rodeo confirming he is ready to contribute. We’re looking forward to working with Brian on the board and  on our broader advocacy effort Vote Libraries.

Don’t forget our April webinars on Political and Community Advocacy. We’re starting on April 2 with Political Advocacy and Campaign Basics. This basics webinar is perfect if you are thinking about a library ballot measure and wondering what it will take. Each webinar is only $25 and we have heard that some people have signed up for the entire series. Thank you for your support!

That is all for this week. Join us next week for another round up. Happy trails!

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