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Stark Reflections on Writing and Publishing

Feb 16, 2024

Mark interviews John Chrastka, the executive director of EveryLibrary, the first nationwide political action committee for libraries, and the EveryLibrary Institute, a nonprofit research and training organization focused on the future of library funding. 

Prior to the interview, Mark shares a personal update, reads comments from recent episodes, and says a word about this episode's sponsor.

This episode is sponsored by An Author's Guide to Working with Libraries and Bookstores.

You can get the book online, order it through your local bookstore, or ask for it as your local library.

Universal Book Link

Smashwords Link (Coupon Discount for Feb/March 2024)

In the interview, Mark and John talk about:

  • John starting off his career in publishing as a bookseller in a small neighborhood Chicago community bookstore, and how that led to becoming a publishing sales rep
  • Migrating over to the Ed-Tech realm as the internet came around
  • Moving on over to The American Library Association from there
  • What EveryLibrary is: a 501(c)(4) organization that is a political action committee for libraries
  • How it's more of a network than a membership that is about 330,000 people strong
  • Telling stories about how libraries are solutions to problems for people and librarians as enactors of those solutions
  • In about 37 states, public libraries actually have to go to election days to get their funding secured
  • The four different ways that voters stratify:
    • Believers - People who love the library and have a relationship with their library (25%)
    • Questioners
    • Suspicious Voters
    • Never Gonna Vote for you Never (22 to 25%)
  • The answer for people who question the value of a local library because they "don't do books"
  • How the library as a source for reading grew from 19% to 24% during the pandemic and the way that percentage is continue to hold in 2024
  • The way that the isolating of society is not just a library issue but a public health issue
  • The popularity of book banning in the United States in recent years and the fact that it's easier to censor a book than it is to attack a person or a population
  • How this censorship and book banning isn't merely a matter of freedom of speech issue, but a matter of human rights
  • The pernicious nature of using the term "obscenity" and "obscene" to criminalize particular pupulations and to help skirt around First Amendment rights
  • How libraries are an affordable way to put tax dollars to good use in the way they provide so much to their local communities
  • The multiple pathways they have to help people move from "aware" to "active"
  • And more . . .

After the interview Mark reflects on how books are being banned and censored as an underhanded way to strike at specific demographics and populations, and the value in focusing on the "Suspicious Voters" as a brilliant strategy.

Links of Interest:


John Chrastka is the executive director of EveryLibrary, the first nationwide political action committee for libraries, and the EveryLibrary Institute, a nonprofit research and training organization focused on the future of library funding. Since 2012, EveryLibrary has helped 133 library communities with ballot measures for funding, operations and buildings, winning over 80% and securing over $2.8 billion in funding on Election Days. Through its digital platforms, EveryLibrary provides advocacy support to state library associations for legislative issues and direct actions in support of school library program budgets. The EveryLibrary Institute supports the library funding ecosystem through its research, training, publishing, and programmatic agendas.

Mr. Chrastka is the co-author of Winning Elections and Influencing Politicians for Library Funding and Before the Ballot: Building Political Support for Library Funding with Patrick “PC” Sweeney (ALA / Neal Schuman). He has contributed chapters to Planning our future libraries: Blueprints for 2025 (2014), and Re-envisioning the MLS: Perspectives on the Future of Library and Information Science Education (2018). In 2015, he delivered the McKusker Memorial Lecture, “The Accidental Candidate: Updating Voter Nostalgia about Librarians and Libraries on the Campaign Trail” for Dominican University and has written for numerous trade publications and journals, including Library Journal and Library Quarterly. In 2018 he delivered the keynote “Advocacy and Activism” for CILIP, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, in Brighton, England, and in 2020 he was invited by EKZ Group in Hamburg, Germany to present a colloquy on advocacy for their members and the profession. He is a frequent keynoter and speaker at state and national library conferences in the United States and abroad, is a sought-after trainer for state libraries, and is a regular guest lecturer for MLS / MLIS programs where he speaks on the topic of "political literacy".

Prior to his work on EveryLibrary, Mr. Chrastka was a partner in AssociaDirect, a Chicago-based consultancy focused on supporting associations in membership recruitment, conference, and governance activities. He was Director for Membership Development at the American Library Association (ALA), was a principal in the education technology start-up ClassMap, and was the founder of the virtual publishers’ sales rep group ReviewCopy, which focused on textbook adoption in the higher education market. In 2014 he was named a Mover & Shaker by Library Journal for his work with EveryLibrary. He was recognized by the Chicago Tribune in 2022 as a Chicagoan of the Year and by Publishers Weekly in 2023 as a Notable for his work opposing book bans and censorship.



The introductory, end, and bumper music for this podcast (“Laser Groove”) was composed and produced by Kevin MacLeod of and is Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0