When it comes to showing versatility as a local community asset, the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) is hard to beat.
A case in point is the BPL doing a full-court press in educating and acting as a resource for the coming 2021 citywide primary and general elections.
This includes the BPL partnering with Schneps Media to host debates for every contested city council race in Brooklyn as well as for the Brooklyn Borough President. These Zoom webinar debates will start next month with dates, times and login information to be announced in the coming week.
“Fostering civic and community engagement generally is an important role for all libraries and it’s one that we’re particularly focused on in Brooklyn. We’ve been doing work along these lines, certainly for the past few few years, and we were very engaged with the city, and a lot of community groups throughout Brooklyn on the census,” said BPL Executive Vice President David Woloch.
Woloch said several libraries assist in helping people register to vote and about a third of the library’s 59 branches have served as polling places on election day.
Woloch said the challenge this year – aside from the pandemic – is to get people aware that primary day has been moved from September to June 22. Additionally, there is the issue of educating voters in the community about rank-choice voting (RCV) this year he said.
“There’s been a lot of dialogue over the past few months and a lot of organizations doing great work around getting information to folks, about rank choice voting. I think our role isn’t to duplicate that work, but to make our reach and our resources available to help some of these other civic and community partners,” said Woloch.
Woloch said with 35 of the 51 city council seats open due to term limits as well as the open mayor and comptroller’s race, it is imperative that civic organizations work together to foster a greater local democracy.
“We have a presence in every neighborhood and there’s trust that Brooklynites have in us as an institution, and there are relationships that our library staff have with the communities they serve. “Our thought is we can be helpful, particularly by partnering with some of the other civic and community actors and groups to help encourage them to vote at this very important time,” he said.
The BPL is hosting a virtual event on RCV from 7-8 p.m., this Monday, April 26. For more info click: https://www.bklynlibrary.org/calendar/ranked-choice-voting-nyc-virtual-20210426
One of the BPL librarians also created a booklist on voting: https://www.bklynlibrary.org/search?booklist=368598.