Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Caring Causes: EveryLibrary


While most library funding comes from local sources, the Federal government supplies critical funds for some things the local community couldn’t provide on its own. 

EveryLibrary is a 501c4 political action committee dedicated to building voter support for libraries. Since 2012, EveryLibrary has provided donor-supported pro-bono advising and consulting to 115 library campaigns helping to win over $1.8 billion in stable tax funding.

Throughout 2020, EveryLibrary has provided pro-bono training, coaching, and advising to 8 library boards and staff on their Informational Communications Campaigns. Likewise, throughout the 2020 primaries and on November 3rd EveryLibrary had supported several local Vote Yes committees with direct donations and campaign advice. All of this pro-bono work for libraries is possible because of our individual donors.  

Here’s a short list of five specific services that Federal money supports for your library.

1. Information to Keep Your Family Healthy
Keeping the family healthy is at the top of every parent’s to-do list. But when a health care question comes up, where can you go for accurate information? After all, there’s so much bad information on the Internet these days. Many times, your public library can help.

2. WiFi and Internet Access in your library and schools
If you’ve ever wondered what that “Universal Service Fee” is on your monthly phone bill, here’s the answer. It might just be enabling your local libraries and schools to afford WiFi and Internet access.

3. Library services for the disabled members of your community
Working with your state and local public library, the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS, a unit of the Library of Congress) makes reading materials and library resources accessible to the people in your community who can’t use printed books. A model of federal-state cooperation, NLS works through a nationwide network of agencies in every state and US territories. 

4. Library of Congress Cultural And Historical Digital Collections
Do you have to visit Washington DC to see the Library of Congress? No! Thanks to digital technology, your local library can showcase many of the Library’s rich cultural and historical resources — and you can visit too! 

5. Serving Military Families and Veterans
Military families and veterans have unique information needs. Public libraries have information. But how to connect the two so that current and past service members and their families get the information they need, when they need it? That’s where the Federal Institute of Museum and Library Services comes in. Their “Community Salute” initiative provides your library staff with proven practices to make sure they connect with the military and veteran communities effectively. 

So the next time you visit your public library — in person or online — think “these are my Federal tax dollars at work — benefitting my own community.” 

I had a chance to do an interview to learn more.
Why was EveryLibrary created?
We started EveryLibrary from an understanding that people around the country - from all walks of life and from across the political spectrum - love their libraries and want to support the librarians who do such vital work. EveryLibrary is a gathering spot for folks to express their support through direct actions. This includes talking to Congress and state legislators about funding for libraries and education. It means showing up on election day when their local library is on the ballot or choosing candidates who care about literacy and personal growth. We are on the way to building a national network of One Million Americans for Libraries in order to ensure that libraries have the funding they need to serve every town, neighborhood, and community. 

Besides just getting books, why are libraries so vital to communities?
Public libraries help individuals and families succeed. This happens in a variety of ways but is always focused on making more thriving places. In early childhood, for example, it means learning to read so that a child can read to learn later in school. It's helping people during COVID get the facts about their own health and community wellbeing. But libraries are also focused on making more prosperous communities. For people looking for work, it's helping with resumes and basic technology skills. For entrepreneurs and small businesses, it's about accessing and understanding data. Across all of this, there are digital, online, or in-person programs, activities, and events that make neighborhoods and towns more interesting, fun, and connected. 

Why is it important for people to recognize what libraries offer, even if they don't use all of the services available?
Public libraries are truly rooted in their own local communities and are responsive to what folks need. Libraries are one of the few community-based taxpayer-funded organizations that serve everyone and deliver high-value services across the board. There is something smart and compassionate about ensuring that everyone has access to the same basic information resources in order to succeed. If you personally believe that we should be working towards a shared future where children have the education, skills, and knowledge they need to grow, then you are already library-aligned. 

In addition to pro bono work, EveryLibrary has created the HALO fund in honor of the 364 days of the year librarians that help the community. “Help A Librarian Out” (HALO) fund gives librarians or library workers (or households who have a librarian or library worker) affected by the COVID-19 pandemic a “no strings attached” grant of $250.

You can hear more about EveryLibrary and its political efforts in the latest Publisher’s Weekly Skillset Podcast “Politics and Libraries” featuring Executive Director John Crastka.

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