King County Library System — A cradle of democracy | Guest Editorial

  • Friday, November 10, 2017 12:06pm
  • Opinion
Stephen A. Smith. Courtesy photo

Stephen A. Smith. Courtesy photo

By Stephen A. Smith

KCLS Interim Director

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 having come and gone, 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. KCLS 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 audience members can learn from others’ experiences and gain perspective on differing viewpoints.

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

KCLS forges partnerships for broader public benefit

Partnerships make it possible for KCLS to serve a broader range of people, while stretching tax dollars.

The importance of being counted | Windows and Mirrors

The 2020 Census is coming and that can greatly affect everything from government representation and federal funding.

This year’s biggest election for Democrats isn’t on the ballot

Four women are vying to become the next House speaker. The Democratic caucus will decide in July.

Proud to be themselves | Windows and Mirrors

June is Pride month and PFLAG Bellevue Eastside has been supporting the local LGBTQ+ community since 1996.

From Eastside to East Coast | Reporter’s Notebook

Reporter Kailan Manandic bids farewell to the Eastside for new adventures in Boston.

Alternative to Sammamish River Trail | Letter

The proposed King County improvements to the Sammamish River Trail should be… Continue reading

In the hands of voters | Letter

Every voter in the state of Washington should be furious with the… Continue reading

A humanitarian crisis | Letter

Hundreds killed or injured. Many raped. Bodies found in the Nile. Sudan… Continue reading

Governor’s watch: timing is everything

Inslee, possible candidates eye 2020 race

Closing the margins | Windows and Mirrors

How a program at Mercer Island High School is helping students affect social change.

Summertime opportunities to read, learn and grow

A monthly column about King County libraries.

Redirecting funds | Letter

There has been a recent influx of publicity about mental health treatment… Continue reading