Local Ballot Measures and Issues

EveryLibrary has identified hundreds of thousands of Americans just like you who are activated to support their local libraries libraries.

EveryLibrary has identified hundreds of thousands of Americans just like you who are activated to support libraries. Every day we identify, cultivate, and empower new people who care and are willing to take action to support libraries and librarians using our Libraries2024 initiative. We also recognize that public libraries are uniquely positioned within the American civic and social landscape to create pathways for voters like you to deepen your participation in democracy. You can register to vote, learn about important political issues, and access candidate guides at your local library. 

At the local level, you have the power to create lasting change by influencing local ballot measures and issues. For example, many public library trustees are elected by voters, and then they decide how libraries are run by creating policies and standards to govern the library director and library board members. Similarly, voters elect school board members who, in turn, create school budgets and establish school library materials policies to regulate district-wide collections. In each election cycle, tens of millions of dollars are at stake for public libraries. From bonding for new or remodeled building projects to changing millages, levies, or taxes that impact staffing, collections, programs, and services, you have the ability to help your library thrive within your community. These local issues foundationally impact your community because they directly affect your household. Many ballot measures impact how your library is funded and create policies that increase censorship of books and materials. It is important to vote for local issues to ensure that your voice is represented within your community. 

Similarly, city councils and local government officials are essential in establishing laws that govern your community. Voting for these officials can help to protect libraries at all levels. In addition to these civic engagement efforts, grassroots organizing at the local level is essential to protecting the First Amendment. To organize in your community, sign up for Fight for the First. This platform will allow you to connect with other library supporters in your area to ensure that you can protect your community against book bans and censorship efforts. While book banning movements are a symptom of broader efforts to devalue the voices of minorities and take away rights, change to prevent this starts at the local level.

In the previous election cycle, EveryLibrary helped libraries across the country in obtaining support.

  • The Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library passed a 10-year levy renewal and increase, with 56% voting yes.

  • The Ida Rupp Memorial Library passed its core operational levy renewal in the face of local opposition, with 63% voting yes.

  • In Ashland, OH, a local opposition campaign sent out direct mail against the library levy. Despite this opposition, fully 65% of voters endorsed the renewal.

  • Voters across Colorado rejected Prop HH, an initiative that would have rolled back property taxes and enacted TABOR provisions, which would have harmed library budgets.

  • In Idaho, the Hansen Community Library passed its first budget increase since 1986 with a 136 to 52 vote.

  • Kent District Library in Michigan voluntarily rolled back its levy, with 77% of voters approving this good management choice.

  • Phoenix, AZ, and Corvallis, OR, approved quality-of-life bond packages to build and support libraries alongside other departments.

  • Pella, IA, defeated a measure to eliminate the library board proposed by a local group of book banners.

  • The Patmos Library in Michigan passed a three-year stop-gap levy to continue operations after two defeats last year.

These successes demonstrate the importance of supporting local library ballot initiatives to protect your library from increasing issues such as budget cuts and book bans. 

Across the country, library renewals continue to pass at a very high rate. Troublingly, however, few libraries were on the ballot this year asking for new funding or advancing new projects. This continues a trend we have seen develop since 2017. Libraries are taxpayer-funded institutions. In fact, over 90% of funding for libraries comes from local taxpayers like you. In those states where levies, referenda, bonds, and annual budgets go before the voters, libraries need to plan to ask them for the funding they need to properly serve our communities. Preliminary data relating to library and school board candidates who oppose censorship show an overwhelming success rate at the local level. As we look ahead to 2024, voters should understand that with the right kind of work and support, even communities facing strident book bans and censorship fights can succeed on Election Day.


2023 Candidate Surveys

Louisiana 2023 Candidate Survey conducted by the St. Tammany Library Alliance and Lafayette Citizens Against Censorship.