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How To Use The Library To Vote

Libraries are ever-changing and have become much more than dusty book warehouses. Given the depth and breadth of resources and programs at local libraries, your local library probably has a heck of a lot more than books waiting for you!

We love checking out books from the library but also appreciate all the other benefits our local library offers. This post is part of a series about how our libraries offer so much beyond books. #LibrariesAreMoreThanBooks

Libraries do a lot of things. Of course, they house and lend loads of books. They have storytimes and Lego clubs. They host book clubs and movie nights. They have stacks upon stacks of information for research. 

As our world changes, libraries continue to transform and expand their offerings to meet the needs of their respective communities. One of the common missions of among library these days, however, is to foster community building and civic engagement. Libraries are much more than a stale and underfunded version of Amazon. 

As we approach the election, don’t forget that your local library can probably help you vote. And vote you should! If you are eligible and able to vote in the United States, it is your civic responsibility to cast your ballot and make your voice heard. It’s the foundation of our democracy.

In my opinion, it’s the least we can each do to show a token of appreciation for the privilege we have of living in a country that, all things considered, has a pretty well-functioning government and civil standard of living. 

Don’t get me wrong. The United States is far from perfect. But when compared to many places in the world, what feels like a dumpster fire right now is still a relative dreamland. I believe we have had such a low voter turnout historically precisely because we have such a well-functioning government, and we take it for granted. 

This year, make your voice heard. If you’re not sure where to start, head to your local library. Last year, for National Voter Registration Day (NVRD), libraries made up 14% of NVRD’s 4,087 partner groups, according to Caroline Mak, research coordinator of Nonprofit VOTE, which organizes the event. This year, the American Library Association (ALA) became a premier partner of NVRD to encourage even more libraries to participate. 

Many libraries have voter registration forms or can at least lead you where to find them. Ask your librarians for assistance if needed. 

Our library, like thousands of libraries across the country, also serves as a polling location. Through this role, they should be familiar with the process and the organizations in your area that administer elections. 

This year, our library accepted a ballot box for county residents to drop their ballots if they choose not to vote in person. This is a new method of voting on Pennsylvania this year, so it’s been the subject of contention. But studies show that ballot boxes and mail-in voting have not historically been any more fraudulent than in-person voting for any political party. If your library hosts a ballot box, this may be another alternative for you to vote this year. 

Many libraries continue to experience funding cuts as elected officials, taxpayers, and communities overlook the vital services our libraries provide. However, libraries are not being replaced by Amazon. They provide an entirely different set of services, and their value is often underappreciated.

People may be circulating fewer books and buying books from Amazon, but libraries are so much more than books. And why are we giving our money to big corporations instead of supporting important community organizations anyway?

As we approach Election Day, don’t forget that your library might be able to help you execute on your civic duty to vote. If you have questions, stop by your library to ask for help registering to vote or finding your polling location. At the very least, they can direct you to your local elections administration organization. 

How do you use your local library other than to check out books? If you’re not sure what you’re local library can do for you, check out our growing series all about how Libraries Are More Than Books

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