The Campaign Is On to Form the Nation’s First Library PAC

September 4, 2012

The tweet announcing the formation of the campaign came a day earlier than its founder and executive director John Chrastka had intended, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. Within four hours of Kate Tkacik’s post to Tumblr, donors had contributed $400 toward EveryLibrary’s goal of raising $50,000 by November 7 with the interests of helping public, school, and academic libraries get ballot initiatives passed in 2013 and beyond.

Chrastka, known to many librarians as the former director of membership development for the American Library Association, explains on the EveryLibrary website that the initial funding for the startup is needed in order to register it with the IRS and the state of Illinois as the country’s first-ever 501(c)4 “that is chartered to work across the nation in support of library ballot initiatives.” EveryLibrary is not affiliated in any way with ALA.

“EveryLibrary is a tactical organization,” Chrastka told American Libraries, “that looks at one day—Election Day—and how to use the current PAC framework to leverage donations nationally to support local libraries on that ballot. It isn’t about public outreach, it is about voter education.” He emphasized that EveryLibrary activities will not supplant the year-round advocacy efforts of programs such as ALA’s I Love Libraries or OCLC’s Geek the Library. Nor will EveryLibrary be competing with ALA, the Urban Libraries Council (ULC), or any other 501(c)3 library organization for outside funding, since a 501(c)3 cannot accept donations to conduct election campaigns. EveryLibrary as a 501(c)4 won’t be eligible for the grant funding that libraries and library nonprofits depend on.

“The need for voter education and getting out the vote for that local millage, levy, bond, or referendum is most glaring when we lose at the ballot box by 3% or 5%,” Chrastka went on to say. “When the number of voters we need to touch, to educate, to activate are in the dozens or hundreds, a little bit of PAC money and some solid campaign consultancy can make all the difference.”

Chrastka noted that the library profession “needs to demonstrate it sees that the time has come for this type of operation.” ALA Treasurer James Neal agrees. “In most public presentations I have given over the past three years or so, I have encouraged the creation of a library PAC to advocate and fight the political battle for libraries at the local level,” he emailed the ALA Council discussion list. “This is an outstanding and strategic development. I am ready to write my check.”


Maureen Sullivan

The Year Ahead

Strategic action will guide ALA forward


The March of Time

Technologies change, but innovation rolls along