Community Impact: Tactics & Recognition

Patrick “PC” Sweeney, Branch Manager, San Mateo County Library

SuperPAC Hacks and Voter (Public) Advocacy for Libraries

@everylibrary @pcsweeney

What is EveryLibrary? A superPAC — political consulting for libraries; local ballot measures; teach people how to run a campaign. Campaign around voters, not general voters.

How is EveryLibrary different from ALA and Urban Librarians Unite? They can only work in public advocacy and lobbying — 501c3. EveryLibrary is a 501c4 — can advocate in elections.


  • Santa Clara, CA campaign
  • Franklin Co.
  • $15 million total dollars voted for libraries through EveryLibrary’s work
  • $1,475 raised for every dollar spent

From Pew Research (but no specific citation):

  • 37% of Americans will for sure vote for libraries
  • 37% of Americans will probably vote for libraries
  • 26% of Americans won’t vote for libraries at all

What Doesn’t Matter

  • Party Affiliation doesn’t matter for libraries — right/left will vote for libraries
  • library card stats don’t matter
  • library use doesn’t matter (from Pew & Gates foundation research)

What does matter

  • People’s relationships with librarian
  • Idea of the librarian — everyone who works at the library
  • Librarian IS the candidate (when you run for political office, you’re sent to candidate school)
  • Your library IS the campaign — but libraries can’t say vote yes/no in the library
  • Platinum rule — The platinum rule: people don’t help you because they like you, they help you because they perceive that YOU like THEM
  • Tell the Stories that Matter (Joe the Plumber); people care very little for numbers and statistics; they care about how people were helped. Talk to the public and politicians — talk about impact stories of libraries
  • Develop your message (and control it) [how many can state your mission statement?] Continually communicate to public
  • Build a coalition of supporters (friends groups; chamber of commerce; business groups; people who care about library day-to-day)
  • Keep people engaged online — social media — put message out as often as possible
  • $25 ad – you can reach 8,000-10,000 people….
  • Give me an email list long enough and a program from which to send it and I can move the world. –Archimedes (email lists — and how important and powerful they are); no more than 2 communications a week; tell stories. MailChimp
  • Get out of the library
  • Door-to-Door Library Card Campaign
  • House Parties — dinner, tea, wine & cheese event, and have candidate in house to talk.
  • Letter writing and earned media (editorial calendar)
  • Advertising and Paid Media (Jonesboro Library billboards)
  • Community meeting attendance (city council; chamber of commerce; Kiwanis; Rotary); civic duty participation — building relationships with decision-making
  • Networking opportunities (Network after work)

Michele Farrell, Senior Library Program Officer, Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)
Kimber Fender, CEO, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County
Candace Main Rush, Library Media Specialist, Park View High School Library Media Center

National Medal for Museum and Library Service – extraordinary education, civic, and economic contributions to community by libraries and museums — 5 of each recognition.

Can your library be a winner? $5,000 award; Washington DC ceremony; National exposure and recognition in media and on Capitol Hill

StoryCorps visit: 40-minute interviews with 18 pairs of community members; winners receive audio files, digital photos for exhibits, media outreac; edited interview posted on IMLS website

Additional benefit: can leverage national medal — more grants, funding, building project approval, more recognition; on-demand speaker.

Application process

  • nonprofit museums and libraries in US and territories are eligible
  • Anyone can nominate
  • Members of Congress can nominate
  • Deadline is Oct 15, 2014
  • Info on [soon]

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