February 28, 2013

Interview with John Chrastka, Executive Director of the Every Library PAC

John Chrastka is the former membership director at the American Library Association, and has left that position recently to start a political action committee for library advocacy purposes, called Every Library. This organization is about three months old at this point. I had heard of it and realized that I didn’t know anything about it, so I contacted John and asked him some questions. He agreed to be interviewed for this blog. I think our interview goes into a good degree of depth at explaining what Every Library is doing and how you can be involved.

John, thanks for agreeing to be interviewed. I want to start simply by asking you to explain what Every Library is and how it got started.

Rory, I appreciate the chance to connect with your readers about EveryLibrary and our work helping local ballot committees talk to voters about libraries. EveryLibrary grew out of a gap in national library advocacy work. The existing associations and organizations that advocate for and support libraries, like ALA, OCLC, the Gates Foundation, and most state library associations, are all 501c3 organizations. They do great advocacy to the public and decision-makers through projects like Geek the Library, the @yourlibrary campaign, and I Love Libraries. They focus their efforts in bringing advocacy messages about the value, impact, and importance of libraries in our communities and campuses – and in the lives of our users – out to new audiences. Their work in D.C. and state capitals to pass legislation affects issues of access and funding. But none of these advocacy groups or campaigns can say “Vote Yes” to the public, directly, on either ballot measures or candidates. As a 501c3 they are not able to use charitably donated monies to do direct voter outreach to endorse a candidate or ballot measure. EveryLibrary exists to fill in that gap, at least when it comes to local ballots. We are set up as a 501c4 social welfare organization. We are intentionally politically active and are technically the first Super PAC for libraries. And as such, we can do advocacy and talk directly to voters and ask them to Vote Yes for a library ballot measure.

That is really intriguing. So what exactly are Every Library’s activities in terms of talking directly to voters?

EveryLibrary is all about building capacity for library political action at the local level. Somewhere near 97% of all public library funding is appropriated locally. We are set up to help local ballot committees and PACs do voter education, outreach, and get out the vote work. We do that in two ways: providing direct funding to the local committee to do an effective “Vote Yes” campaign, and consulting services to help ensure that the messaging is solid, the voter data is useful, and the volunteers are well trained. You won’t see generic commercials from EveryLibrary. If you live in a district with an EveryLibrary backed ballot measure you will see the local committee’s message about their own library and proposition. We’re transparently behind the scenes.

Where does the funding come from to do this work?

To date, we have received 100% of our funding from individual donors. As a c4, we are not eligible for grants or foundation money. Like other politically active organizations we are looking to both small and large individual donors who believe in our mission. We are reaching out the corporate community both inside and outside the library world. And we are approaching unions and other issue-PACs for resources. We are a lean organization and have very little overhead. Every dollar goes to work helping to win on Election Day.

I think many librarians and other library advocates may not be aware of the importance of donating money for this purpose. What are you doing to raise funds from the public? Are you able to do much with the funding that presently is coming in? What do you feel you need to raise to accomplish your goals in addition to what is coming in now? You’re brand new, so I would imagine some potential donors might want to see a track record that there is no way of showing yet. Is that the case?

I am happy to say that we have our first success already! We backed “Yes for Spokane Libraries” on a Feb 12th, 2013 ballot measure. The Spokane Public Library had a $1.6 million 4-year dedicated levy out to the voters. EveryLibrary provided about 25% of the funding to the “Yes…” committee do voter education and get out the vote. The library ran a great informational campaign but the chance to back an active Vote Yes campaign – with phone banking, yard signs, and a little door-to-door canvassing – was wonderful. They won with 66% of the vote. Having EveryLibrary there in such a substantial way was important for them and for us. All that funding came from individual donors.

We have a funding plan in place that will provide us with the resources we need to support several dozen campaigns in the 2014 election cycle while laying the foundation for to support any campaign we’d want in 2015 and beyond. Our fundraising plan is to continue to ask for donations from librarians and library supporters but to broaden the ask to the general public. Whether it is direct mail or telephone solicitations, both cost money to do. We know that we need to build capacity for campaigns so we’re going to be out there doing that kind of fundraising in the fall. But until that time we’re working on telling our story about supporting libraries at the ballot box to some key larger donors who can support our early work.

You referred to Every Library as a “Super Pack,” and mentioned local PACs working on ballot measures, saying that Every Library assists them. What is a Super Pack, technically speaking? And also, regarding the behind-the-scenes work that Every Library does to help local efforts, can you talk about the expertise that your group offers to the local ballot organizers or PACs, what specifically you are doing for them?

The term Super PAC refers to the way we’re organized. As a 501c4 we are a Social Welfare Organization and our charter makes it clear that we do not work on candidates for office at any level of government. Other “regular” PACs do candidates. Super PACs can raise funds from individuals, corporations, unions, and other PACs to support their particular issues – and expend funds to advocate for their issues. Our issue is libraries and our mode of advocacy as a Super PAC for libraries is to work supporting local ballot measures. For example, when a library puts a Bond Issue on the ballot to build the first new library since Carnegie died there are millions of dollars at stake and the potential to have generational impact on that community. If they win, it is a game changer for services, programs, collections, and librarian jobs. If they lose, it could be a huge setback for the community. We work in support of a local PAC or ballot committee to provide seed money to help them campaign as well as technical assistance to run that campaign well, if needed. We can help by looking at the voter data and doing voter segmentation. It is critical to the success of campaigns to “touch” high-turnout voters with your message. We can help by doing pre-polling about voter attitudes about the library and the ballot measure. Knowing where you are going with messaging in your community is important. We also can help with the messaging, design, and outreach techniques from planning through execution. There are a lot of resources we’re ready to bring besides funding.

Right now, we’re helping the “Citizens for a New Shorewood-Troy Library” committee with voter segmentation and developing their precinct ‘walk lists’, working with them on messaging, and training their volunteers on how to do door-to-door canvasing. We’re not involved as part of their committee – they run their campaign and make all the decisions on how to expend their funding. But we help build capacity within their committee as consultants.

Well, I would just like to say that I think what you are doing sounds really great. I am wondering what people can do if they want to support Every Library and show their support. Also, I’m wondering what kind of partnerships you have or are planning to start with other organizations.

We built the organization with small donations – $10 or $100 goes a long way when we’re talking about library ballot measures and voter outreach. When something fails at the polls it doesn’t usually fail by huge numbers. In a district with a service population of 10,000 people, perhaps 6,000 are registered voters and maybe 1,800 will come out for a library election. If they lose by 3% or 4% (which is not atypical), that’s 55 or 60 votes. We think that we can do a lot to educate and influence 61 voters with not too much money. If you agree that this idea matters because every one of those ballot measures matter to the future of that library, you can donate at www.rally.org/everylibrary. We’ll put it right to work.

Throughout the spring we’re going to be announcing several partnerships and key funders that will help extend and expand our work. Stay tuned.

That sounds great, John. This was very informative. I want to encourage readers to donate – it seems like a very effective use of funds. Thanks for doing the interview.

Rory, I truly appreciate the chance to talk about EveryLibrary and to be featured on Library Juice press. It was an engaging interview. Thanks so much.

February 27, 2013

Litwin Books Award for Ongoing Doctoral Dissertation Research in the Philosophy of Information

Award for Ongoing Doctoral Dissertation Research in the Philosophy of Information


1. Nature of the Award

1.1 The award shall consist of $1,000, given annually to a graduate student who is working on a dissertation on the philosophy of information (broadly construed).

2. Purpose of the Award

2.1 The purpose of this award is to encourage and support scholarship in the philosophy of information.

3. Eligibility

3.1 The scholarship recipient must meet the following qualifications:
(a) Be an active doctoral student whose primary area of research is directly philosophical, whether the institutional setting is philosophy, information science, media studies, or another discipline; that is to say, the mode of dissertation research must be philosophical as opposed to empirical or literary study;
(b) Have completed all course work; and
(c) Have had a dissertation proposal accepted by the institution.

3.2 Recipients may receive the award not more than once.

4. Administration

4.1 The Litwin Books Award for Ongoing Doctoral Dissertation Research in the Philosophy of Information is sponsored and administered by Litwin Books, LLC, an independent scholarly publisher.

5. Nominations

5.1 Nominations should be submitted via email by June 1, to award@litwinbooks.com.

5.2 The submission package should include the following:
(a) The accepted dissertation proposal;
(b) A description of the work done to date;
(c) A letter of recommendation from a dissertation committee member;
(d) An up-to-date curriculum vitae with current contact information.

6. Selection of the Awardee

6.1 Submissions will be judged on merit with emphasis on the following:
(a) Clarity of thought;
(b) Originality;
(c) Relevance to our time;
(d) Evidence of good progress toward completion.

7. Notification

7.1 The winner and any honorable mentions will be notified via letter by July 1.

February 22, 2013

Interview with Emily Drabinski

I have just interviewed Emily Drabinski, instructor for the upcoming Library Juice Academy course, Working Faster, Working Smarter: Productivity Strategies for Librarians. Emily is also co-editor of Critical Library Instruction: Theories & Methods (Library Juice Press, 2010), and edits a book series from Litwin Books/Library Juice Press. Our interview gives a clear description of what her course is about and gets into some of her other interests. Always good talking to Emily.

February 21, 2013

Interview with Aliqae Geraci

I have just done an interview with Aliqae Geraci, instructor for the upcoming Library Juice Academy course, Team-Based Work Structures and Productivity. The interview gives the background to the workshop and the instructor, and gets a bit into her other interests.

As a personal note, judging from my previous experience in libraries and what I learned from interviewing Aliqae, I think a lot of library organizations could benefit from sending a librarian or two to this workshop.

Webinar Series: What’s New with Gary Price

Library Juice Academy Webinar Series:
What’s New with Gary Price

In these fast-paced sessions Gary Price shares a handful of the latest and most useful web resources, tools, and search techniques he’s been posting and sharing on LJ’s infoDOCKET.

Plus, each session focuses on a special topic loaded with resources and discussion.

Topics include online privacy and security, current awareness tools, real time information sources, ethical issues for the 21st Century librarian, personal information archiving, and online productivity tools.

The goal of each webinar is to:

  • Teach you about several resources and tools you were unaware of when the program started;
  • Give you resources and techniques to share with your colleagues;
  • Provide ideas for tools and topics to share your users;
  • Make you a more well-rounded info professional.

Of course, Gary will welcome questions and comments as each session progresses.

Webinars are $25 per session for a single seat, or purchase a pack of ten seats for $150 (good for simultaneous viewings by multiple people at an institution or by a single person over multiple future sessions, i.e. a subscription).

Gary Price is a librarian, author, and an online information analyst based in suburban Washington, DC. He is the co-founder and co-editor of infoDOCKET and FullTextReports.com, and a contributing editor at Search Engine Land. Price is a frequent speaker at professional and trade conferences, a contributor to Searcher and Information Today, and co-author (with Chris Sherman) of The Invisible Web, published by CyberAge Books.

February 17, 2013

Interview with Rebecca Blakiston

I have just done an interview with Rebecca Blakiston, instructor for the upcoming Library Juice Academy course, Do-It-Yourself Usability Testing. This will be Rebecca’s second time teaching this course for us. In the interview she tells us about her background and qualifications for teaching the course, the content of the course, and some of her other interests.

February 15, 2013

Two Statements in Support of Dale Askey and McMaster University

Dale Askey, a librarian at McMaster University in Canada, is the one who has been sued by Mellen Press for giving them a bad review. Here are two statements supporting him, one from the Association of Research Libraries and the Canadian Association of Research Libraries, and the other from the British Columbia Library Association…

ARL-CARL Joint Statement in Support of Dale Askey and McMaster University

View a PDF of the ARL-CARL statement

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) share a commitment to freedom of opinion and expression of ideas and are strongly opposed to any effort to intimidate individuals in order to suppress information or censor ideas. We further share the belief that a librarian must be able to offer his or her assessment of a publisher’s products or practices free from such intimidation.

Consequently, we are highly supportive of Dale Askey and of McMaster University as they confront the lawsuit brought against them by Edwin Mellen Press. We strongly disapprove of the aggressive use of the Canadian court system to threaten Mr. Askey with millions of dollars in liability over the contents of a blog post. We urge Edwin Mellen Press to withdraw this suit and use more constructive means to address its reputation.

“No academic librarian, research library, or university should face a multi-million dollar lawsuit because of a candid discussion of the publications or practices of an academic publisher,” said Brent Roe, Executive Director of CARL. “The exaggerated action of Edwin Mellen Press could only impose a chill on academic and research librarians’ expression of frank professional judgments.”

“Unfortunately, this is just the latest publisher that has chosen to pursue costly and wasteful litigation against universities and librarians,” said Elliott Shore, Executive Director of ARL. “These hostile tactics highlight the need for people who share the core values of research libraries to embrace models of publishing that foster—rather than hinder—research, teaching, and learning.”

Together, ARL and CARL represent 136 research libraries in the United States and Canada.

Press Release from the British Columbia Library Association

The British Columbia Library Association (BCLA) is extremely concerned about the unwarranted and frivolous lawsuits that Edwin Mellen Press has filed against Associate University Librarian Dale Askey and against McMaster University.

Edwin Mellen Press alleges that that comments made by Mr. Askey on his personal blog regarding the quality of their publications were defamatory, and are seeking a total of $4.5 million dollars in damages to compensate for injury to their reputation.

As a professional librarian engaged in collection development, Mr. Askey is both qualified and obliged to make decisions about published materials. Central to this issue is Mr. Askey’s academic freedom which should ensure that he, as well as fellow academic librarians, has the ability to freely speak, write, review and evaluate as professionals without fear of reprisal, litigation, or control by vendors, employers or other external bodies.

As a citizen in a democratic society Mr. Askey is free to have and share his opinions with his community, society and country. Sharing and debating perspectives without fear of recrimination is the hallmark of a healthy democratic society peopled by engaged citizens.

Librarians and information workers uphold the rights of all community members to express a critical view about the value of a book or other information materials. This includes a librarian’s own right to do the same. Every citizen should be able to express an opinion without fear of litigation should they offend an author or publisher. By filing lawsuits against Mr. Askey and McMaster University Edwin Mellen Press is attempting to create a climate of fear among librarians, information workers, and all libraries that may critique their product.

BCLA condemns the misuse of the court process to intimidate libraries, librarians and information workers from discharging their professional obligations and from demonstrating one of the library’s core responsibilities to uphold the right of freedom of thought and expression.

BCLA urges Edwin Mellen Press to withdraw its lawsuits and instead engage in a debate, a conversation or a discussion with the library community in order to build a healthy society that reflects a myriad of opinions held by diverse community members.

June Stockdale
BCLA President

For information contact:
Annette DeFaveri
BCLA Executive Director

February 14, 2013

Interview with Katie Cunningham

I have just done an interview with Katie Cunningham, instructor for two upcoming courses with Library Juice Academy: Connecting with Spanish-Speaking Communities, and Bilingual Storytime at Your Biblioteca. Katie is a library consultant and training specialist whose work focuses on improving library services to Latino and Spanish-speaking children and families. I enjoyed interviewing her, and I think it is a good read for anyone interested in these issues in the context of their own workplace.

February 10, 2013

Library Juice Academy Classes in March and April

March 2013

Success in First Library Supervisor Position
Instructor: Tony Garrett |
Credits: 1.5 CEUs |
Cost: $175

Introduction to RDA
Instructor: Melissa Adler |
Credits: 1.5 CEUs |
Cost: $175

Do-It-Yourself Usability Testing
Instructor: Rebecca Blakiston |
Credits: 1.5 CEUs |
Cost: $175

Connecting with Spanish-Speaking Communities
Instructor: Katie Cunningham |
Credits: 1.5 CEUs |
Cost: $175

Team-Based Work Structures and Productivity
Instructor: Aliqae Geraci |
Credits: 0.75 CEUs |
Cost: $90

Working Faster, Working Smarter: Productivity Strategies for Librarians
Instructor: Emily Drabinski |
Credits: 0.75 CEUs |
Cost: $90


What Do I Do With All These Pictures?
Getting Started With Digital Image Collections

Instructor: Beth Knazook |
Credits: 1.5 CEUs |
Cost: $175

Collecting and Evaluating Electronic Transactions from Library Services
Instructor: Ray Schwartz |
Credits: 1.5 CEUs |
Cost: $175

Bilingual Storytime at Your Biblioteca
Instructor: Katie Cunningham |
Credits: 1.5 CEUs |
Cost: $175

Digital Scholarship: New Metrics, New Modes
Instructor: Marcus Banks |
Credits: 1.5 CEUs |
Cost: $175

Considering an Open Source ILS
Instructor: BWS Johnson |
Credits: 1.5 CEUs |
Cost: $175

Introduction to XML
Instructor: Robert Chavez |
Credits: 1.5 CEUs |
Cost $175

February 9, 2013

Ad for Library Juice Academy

February 3, 2013

SFPL vs. Enoch Pratt Superbowl Library Bet

This is a good superbowl bet. The Enoch Pratt Free Library of Baltimore and the San Francisco Public Library have a good bet going on the outcome of today’s game:

Pratt Library vs. San Francisco Public Library: Two Great Libraries, One Great Super Bowl Bet