A cradle of Democracy | Book Nook

  • Friday, November 3, 2017 1:01pm
  • Opinion

On Nov. 3, 1942, a shared vision of democratic ideals and equal access to information became reality when King County voters approved the formation of the King Country Rural Library District — what we know today as the King County Library System.

With Election Day coming up on Nov. 7, it is fitting to acknowledge the significance of that vote 75 years ago. It established the legal and funding structures to create and maintain a legacy that continues to this day. The King County Library System is one of the most highly regarded library systems in the nation thanks to support from King County voters throughout the years.

With every election, voters are reminded of the responsibilities of citizenship and the importance of civic engagement. Faced with making choices at the ballot box that have social, political and economic ramifications, a knowledgeable and well-informed citizenry is as important as ever.

Libraries can help. A wealth of resources is available at any of KCLS’ 49 locations, and our expert staff is available to help patrons access the information they need to keep current on candidates and ballot measures. KCLS also encourages patrons to actively participate in conversations on topics that affect communities, both locally and nationally. Programs like “Everyone’s Talking About It” bring people together to talk about issues that potentially spark disagreement. The “town hall” format offers a moderated setting that promotes respectful dialog so that audience members can learn from others’ experiences and gain perspective on differing viewpoints.

Working in partnership with King County Elections to help lower barriers and improve access for registered voters, KCLS has ballot boxes at 16 libraries throughout the county: Algona-Pacific, Auburn, Bellevue, Boulevard Park, Covington, Enumclaw, Fairwood, Fall City, Kingsgate, Shoreline, Skyway, Snoqualmie, Valley View, Vashon, White Center and Woodinville. In addition, Bellevue Library is an accessible voting center — one of only four in King County — where trained staff and specialized equipment are available to help voters with disabilities cast a private, independent ballot.

For many residents who are studying to become United States citizens, KCLS offers classes where participants can practice reading and speaking English, and take mock interview and citizenship tests. KCLS proudly hosts naturalization ceremonies throughout the year where we celebrate our newest citizens as they recite the Oath of Allegiance in culmination of their hard work and determination.

Philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, well-known for his gifts of public libraries across the United States, said, “There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the Free Public Library, this republic of letters, where neither rank, office, nor wealth receives the slightest consideration.”

In our mission to inspire the people of King County to succeed through ideas, interaction and information, KCLS is committed to keeping the cradle rocking.

Stephen A. Smith is the interim director of the King County Library System.

More in Opinion

Questions over MIHS scavenger hunt initiation | YFS Advice

Dear YFS, I am the parent of a freshman at Mercer Island… Continue reading

Place Mercerdale Park in the land conservancy | Letter

Kudos to the city of Mercer Island and the Mercer Island Center… Continue reading

Reform needed to stop financial parasites | Letter

Presently, most of us are on the road to debt peonage. The… Continue reading

Thank lawmakers for voting to pass RAISE | Letter

Caregiving can be an emotionally, physically and financially draining role. Across Washington… Continue reading

To my sea sisters — and all families of veterans | Editor’s Note

As my Navy recruiter waited in his car with the engine running… Continue reading

Residents support Mercer Island Council candidate Joy Langley | Letters

Joy Langley — Character, experience, diversity Joy Langley has earned my vote… Continue reading

Mercer Island Reporter retracts Langley endorsement | Editorial – Update

Update: As of 5:10 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 6, council candidate Joy… Continue reading

Acker represents diversity, tolerance and inclusion | Letters

Acker represents diversity, tolerance and inclusion Many of us know Tom Acker… Continue reading

MICA in Mercerdale Park (Part 1) | Letter

My wife and I have been following arguments for and against the… Continue reading

Planning Commission is responsible for protecting parkland | Letter

The following is an open letter to the Planning Commission regarding the… Continue reading