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Civic learning at the library

Posted on September 4, 2019 at 6:00 am

By Dana Mannino

I hear a phrase uttered at the Thanksgiving dinner table at least once each year: “Kids these day, they have no idea how the government works!”

But that’s not the only place I’ve heard it. Last spring, our librarians asked people what kind of a community they wanted to live in. One thing I heard often was “I want a community where I can be part of the decision making process. Right now, I’m not.”

There could be lots of reasons people might feel this way. Our government is pretty complex. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed. To participate, people have to know how within that complexity.

Enter the library. . . Supporting an informed electorate is one of the reasons libraries exist. At the library, your income level doesn’t factor into your access to authoritative information—information you might use to vote! This fall, we have some programs for learning about the democratic process and how to participate in it. Here’s a rundown!


Learn about how our federal, state and local governments work in a poster display at Spokane Valley Library. Each poster describes a branch of government and the decisions that branch makes. The posters list practical examples of how each branch may impact you and share how you can be part of the decision-making process. The library will have blank post cards and writing materials so that you can contact your elected officials and tell them what’s on your mind.

Spotlight: Our Elected Representatives & Government Agencies

Spotlight: Our Elected Representatives & Government Agencies
Poster Display
September 1–30, 2019


When librarians interviewed Spokane Valley residents, we heard concerns about the community’s rapid growth. To address this, we are partnering with the City of Spokane Valley, the Washington State Department of Commerce, and The Planning Association of Washington to bring the “Short Course on Urban Planning” to Spokane Valley Library. In this 3-hour workshop, a panel of experts will discuss how local planning decisions are made and how average citizens can be part of that process.

Short Course on Local Planning
Wednesday, October 2, 6–9pm


The library loves to collaborate with local artists. This fall we share an exhibit of paintings of all 45 presidents, painted by Valley native and artist John Thamm. Previously, John painted a series of portraits of veterans. His complete set of portraits of U.S. presidents will be on display throughout our libraries in the District (except North Spokane), October 16–November 16. So you can see a few paintings at each location—maybe you can visit them all!

The Presidential Collection: Art Displays

ALL LIBRARIES (except North Spokane)
Oct 16–Nov 16, during open hours


Every day is voter registration day at the library. We have registration forms on hand, and staff are happy to answer questions about filling them out. However, it’s good to take a specific day to celebrate the privilege of voting.

On Tuesday, September 24, which is National Voter Registration Day, North Spokane, Medical Lake, and Spokane Valley Libraries host volunteers who are enthusiastic about voting and will assist with voter registration. If you like to volunteer, you’re invited to come to a training session at each of these libraries. You’ll find more information about volunteering on our Volunteer web page.

At our other eight libraries, you’ll find a table with voter registration information and forms that you can fill out (just no volunteers). If you have any questions, you can ask library staff for help with the registration form.

We will also be in downtown Spokane at The STA Plaza, where you can register to vote and sign up for a Spokane County Library District card while you make your commute.

National Voter Registration Day
Tuesday, September 24, during open hours

Tuesday, September 24, 11:30am–1:30pm

Dana Mannino

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