CHICAGO — As the saying goes, all politics is local. And 90% of funding for public libraries comes from the will of local politicians and, in turn, from local voters. So it’s urgent that librarians, library supporters, and anyone interested in running an election or campaign for a library understand the strategies, resources, and tactics necessary for positive political action. Whether election day is four months away or four years away, there are immediate steps library leaders and local library ballot committees should take to help secure a successful ballot initiative later. Written by experienced library campaigners Patrick “PC” Sweeney and John Chrastka, “Winning Elections and Influencing Politicians for Library Funding,” published by ALA Editions, is an action-driven manual for anyone running a political campaign for libraries. It dives into:
- proven successful campaigning techniques for rural, suburban, and urban settings;
- expert analysis on how political perceptions are formed, how political power works, and ways libraries can reach funding or political goals;
- starting the discussion internally;
- the right approach to setting up the committee structure, and identifying the core leadership team for the committee;
- tips on networking, cultivating good relationships with the power players in the community, and building a winning coalition;
- canvassing and direct voter contact;
- responding effectively to opposition, including voters who habitually resist taxes or library funding increases;
- the differences between paid media and earned media; and
- best practices for marketing and message development, fundraising, volunteer engagement, and other key areas.
Sweeney is the current political director for EveryLibrary. He is a former administrative librarian of the Sunnyvale (California) Public Library and was executive director of EveryLibrary California, a statewide ballot committee to support library ballot propositions. He is active in the California Library Association and across library social media as a cofounder of the ALA Think Tank. A sought-after speaker and presenter, he was named a 2015 Mover & Shaker by Library Journal. Chrastka is EveryLibrary’s founder. He is a former partner in AssociaDirect, a Chicago-based consultancy focused on supporting associations in membership recruitment, conference, and governance activities. He is a former president and member of the Board of Trustees for the Berwyn (Illinois) Public Library (2006–2015) and is a former president of the Reaching Across Illinois Libraries System (RAILS) multi-type library system. Prior to his work at AssociaDirect, he was director for membership development at the American Library Association. He was named a 2014 Mover & Shaker by Library Journal.
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