The Election and Libraries

Back in August, I was part of an inspiring institute at New America in DC which brought together people from all over the country who care about literacy, digital media, kids, and families. In preparation for a panel discussion, the moderator asked us to think about what we would say to the presidential candidates. We never got the chance to share our thoughts during those busy two days, but I’ve been thinking about the election and libraries ever since.


Me with my ‘I voted!’ sticker!

Today I voted early. The presidential election has been crazy. Emotions are raw and a lot is at stake. I took a seat in my curtained off station and breathed a small sigh of relief.

As I filled out the ballot, I couldn’t help thinking back a couple of weeks to when a couple with a young child asked me for help at the library. They wanted to print an official envelope so they could mail in their ballot to their home state. We got the envelopes printed, I gushed over the baby (and told them about storytime), and they were on their way. Helping the couple was just one part of another busy day at the library. My coworkers and I helped people of all ages and from all walks of life research Alaskan missionaries for a class, find and check out just the right picture book to share at bedtime, set the clock on a cell phone (a lifeline for some), apply for a job online, and log on to Minecraft.

The variety of ways we help people (young, old, and in-between) access information is common practice not just at our library, but also at others across the country. I went into the polling site to vote with not just my own family in mind, but also those at the library, in my community, and across the nation. What did I want the election to mean for them?

Since I never got to share what I wanted to tell the next President of the United States back in August, I wish I could have written a narrative response on my ballot. This simple message is what I would have written if space allowed.

Dear Madame President,

Libraries are shared spaces that bring together people of all ages, from all walks of life. They are essential to families well-being and the health of our communities. Librarians provide supported access to diverse resources and innovative programs that help families grow as lifelong learners who will become business owners, educators, community leaders, and even the President of the United States. Fund libraries, support families, and inspire us to be a country that values innovation, education, equality, and compassion.





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