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Leagues, Libraries, and Informing Voters

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Public libraries have a long history of cultivating strong civic communities. There are roughly 9,000 public libraries across the country. These critical institutions offer public spaces for community members to access trusted information and engage in discourse that bridges political divides. Libraries are a powerful resource for promoting knowledge, learning, and community. 

Yet this kind of access is increasingly limited and, in some places, under attack. The American Library Association reported a record number of demands to ban books in 2023, a 65% increase compared to 2022. Many of these censorship demands targeted books and associated materials in public libraries. This aligns with a broader trend in the US of attacks on access to information and attempts to limit full participation in the democratic process, starting with education. 

Heading into the 2024 general elections, access to free, trusted, and unrestricted information will be essential to empowering an informed and engaged electorate. Elections at the federal, state, and local levels will directly affect the communities that libraries serve and the issues their users care about. Access to nonpartisan civic information that breaks down the barriers to ballot casting is critical to ensuring all Americans can engage in the democratic process. That’s where the League of Women Voters comes in.  

The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan civic organization that has worked since 1920 to empower voters and defend democracy. This work is done primarily on the ground, led by volunteer community members in 750+ local Leagues in every state and DC. These Leagues host voter registration drives, publish detailed voter guides, host civics education seminars, help communities navigate the new landscape of mis and disinformation, and get involved in virtually every part of the civic engagement process.  

Libraries and Leagues are two of the few lasting, nonpartisan civic entities with the community ties and trust to encourage civic dialogue based on issues their community cares about. They have a long history of working together to inform and empower voters. 

Man kneeling in front of a table covered in pamphlets, talking to a woman sitting behind the table

That work — and collaboration — is more important than ever. That's why the American Library Association and the League of Women Voters are partnering to support local Leagues and libraries in increasing access to nonpartisan civic information and resources. Our joint toolkit offers guidance, resources, and local case studies to supplement and expand upon the essential work on the ground. 

Guidance for Libraries  

Libraries looking to encourage civic participation can do so in many ways:  

Reach out to your local League 

This League locator offers an easy way to find contact information for your local League. With shifting laws and confusing processes around voter registration and engagement, partnering with League of Women Voters will ensure you have the expertise and capacity to execute strategic civic programming.  

Utilize, LWV’s one-stop shop for all the tools and information a voter needs to make their voice heard

 This includes a voter registration tool, state-based information on upcoming election deadlines and rules, and a detailed, ZIP-code specific ballot guide that offers information on candidates and issues down to the local level on upcoming elections. Available in both English and Spanish, this site is populated by League staff and volunteers across the country and is kept up to date in real-time as shifts occur. Getting this information into the hands of library patrons to help serve their individual needs is an important task.  

Visit VOTE411

Host voter registration drives and/or civics events in partnership with Leagues. 

Leagues and libraries have been hosting creative and engaging civic events for decades, such as local candidate forums, voter registration drives, mis- and disinformation identification trainings, and Civics 101 courses. Providing in-person space for public discourse, questions, and conversation based on locally relevant issues is an essential service.  

Leagues and libraries know that knowledge is power. That’s why we’re working to ensure everyone has access to civic information. Get involved in your community by reaching out to join or partner with your local league today. 

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to empower voters and defend democracy.