The Worst Library Election Ever

We won’t normally report on what our parent organization, EveryLibrary, does… But this last weekend was too great not to share.

On Thursday morning we honestly weren’t tracking on the Lafourche library election that happened on Saturday (just 48 hours later). I don’t think they were tracking on us, either. But when an election that proposes to take money from the library in order to build a new jail is so racially charged, EveryLibrary needed to act. We took a look at our budget and committed some serious money to supporting the library community in Lafourche Parish, LA. We called this “The Worst Library Election in the Country” for a good reason: It is. When the Parish Council Chair, the person responsible for putting this funding ‘shell game’ on the ballot, talked about the library he didn’t talk about civic priorities or the role that libraries play in the community. He talked about race and class and station in life. It is ridiculous that Mr. Lindel Toups would try to pull a fast one on voters who approved the dedicated library levy years ago. But what he said – in the newspaper – is horrific:

“They’re teaching Mexicans how to speak English,” the council chairman said in reference to Biblioteca Hispana, a Hispanic-language segment of the Golden Meadow library branch. “Let that son of a bitch go back to Mexico. There’s just so many things they’re doing that I don’t agree with. … Them junkies and hippies and food stamps (recipients) and all, they use the library to look at drugs and food stamps (on the Internet). I see them do it.”

We immediately put out the call to our supporters, and asked for help to buy more ads across social media about that library. In less than 6 hours they responded and we had an effective online campaign in place. Those supporters helped EveryLibrary amp-up a message to Lafourche voters that their library was in danger of losing it’s funding in a catastrophic way. Having Neil Gaiman tweet out about it didn’t hurt either:

So… @neilhimself broke @everylibrary‘s page about Lafourche and the racism there. But check the story on http://t.co/Vvo2DTg27D
— pcsweeney (@pcsweeney) November 14, 2013

We suspect you agreed that gutting the library levy to build a jail was a bad idea. We know that you were as appalled as we are by the Council Chair’s comments. We know because you stepped up and donated, tweeted, posted, tumbled, and shared about this travesty. The messages that was put out about the library was focused on the facts in this election. The ads you helped buy talked directly to the people of Lafourche Parish:

Amount raised in 24 hours: $1,125.00
New or renewing donors: 38
Ads up in Lafourche: 8, with a combined targeted reach of 55,000 people 18+ years old

The results came in on Saturday and the anti-library measure in Lafourche was defeated with 53% voting NO. The library community in Lafourche has been through a tough campaign. EveryLibrary was happy to give our support in getting the word out to voters about their library during these last critical few hours of the campaign. Many people’s donations to our work made it possible to do smart, targeted outreach about the facts and in support of the library. It paid off and a small but serious fight against injustice was won.This is just a small example of what having an established and efficient organization in place can do to swing an election in a short amount of time. EveryLibrary California is different, we have a much larger opportunity. We can have a much more dramatic effect on California Libraries State-Wide by fighting for the decrease of the passing threshold of tax measures from 66 percent down to 55 percent. This is what we are going to be fighting for and we need your support to start our fight now when it’s early enough to make a significant change and get the word out about the importance of California Libraries. We are asking you to give today, right now, so we can start to win the fight right now before its too late. Please, give today at http://www.rally.org/everylibrarycalifornia and ask others to do the same.

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