Politics is an everyday subject in today’s world. We cannot watch tv or look through our social media feeds or have a conversation without politics and government coming into play. Libraries have been called a neutral place for people to learn about political agendas and voting rights and librarians are trusted to provide non-biased content to all. But is neutral where we want to be? Is neutral positioning going to serve our community best? I do not think so.
Neutral may seem to keep things quiet, but it also keeps things unsaid and people unheard. We do not need neutral space but safe spaces where anyone can openly talk about their views and, at the same time listen to other views with less judgment and more effort to understand. Neutral does nothing. Taking sides doesn’t help, but being a space for truly open conversation could make a difference. We can disagree and still work together. Libraries are the spaces for that.
It is our job to not only provide general information about voting but to make sure people understand what is really at stake when they mark their ballots. It is our place in this process to help people grasp the issues around the environment, why we are focused on Syria and North Korea, why Black Lives Matter and how to support our police departments and military. Let’s guide our community with information about the electoral college and the criteria of running for the different positions entail; what proposals are passing and not passing would do to our cities and neighborhoods, what our libraries stand for when it comes to education, civil rights, human rights and on and on.
It takes courage to do this work and more resolve to do it in a manner that is beyond giving facts and more on empowering through information.